PuzzleWorks – The Dungeon [Review]

We didn’t avoca-do it!

Location: Saint Paul, MN

Date Played: May 31, 2022

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player for the first two players, $26 for each further ticket

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Climbing stairs (at least one player)

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

In The Dungeon, PuzzleWorks showed off their ability to put a slight twist on the mundane to make something hilarious and memorable.

Most of The Dungeon was a standard, solid take on a medieval dungeon theme. The puzzles were joyous and clever, well themed and well tested. The game began with a split start that gave all players something interesting to work on. The set was lightly cartoonish and beautifully constructed — amongst the most immersive of escape rooms in the Twin Cities area.

Had this been all there was to The Dungeon, it would have been yet another medieval-themed game with a high density of particularly fun puzzles.

But there was the twist. Why were we imprisoned? Why, because we’d been accused of stealing an enchanted avocado! The choice of an avocado was brilliant in its simple absurdity. As a California-dwelling millennial, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say that I have an emotional attachment to the fruit. And it’s most definitely not something I or most associate with medieval dungeons. PuzzleWorks took this gimmick and ran with it to great effect.

A golden hand in a cage holding an avocado.

The Dungeon is a must-play if you are in the Twin Cities. And while you’re visiting PuzzleWorks, I also recommend checking out The Hospital if you have time. Though it’s not quite as pretty as The Dungeon, it’s perhaps even funnier.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Fun, tactile puzzling
  • Great source of potassium, folate, and healthy fats

Story

We’d been accused of stealing a magical avocado, locked in a dungeon, and scheduled to be executed in an hour. If we could escape our prison and recover the avocado, we might prove our innocence and live to puzzle another day.

A dungeon with a skeleton hung from the wall, a large wooden contraption, and a blackboard with writing.

Setting

The Dungeon took place in the basement dungeon of a medieval castle. Individually carved gray stone walls were offset by rustic wooden doors and boxes. A tortured skeleton graced one wall.

A large, old wooden trunk.

Gameplay

PuzzleWorks’ The Dungeon was a standard escape room with a moderate-to-high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles and communicating. Players start the game separated across multiple spaces. Difficulty largely arose from the quantity and density of puzzles throughout.

Analysis

➕ The set was immersive and well constructed, especially within the context of the current Twin Cities escape room market. Though the dungeon initially felt rather dauntingly bleak, it was filled with details and secrets hiding in plain sight. Certain larger props were intricately constructed, with a handmade-yet-polished aesthetic.

➕ Witty humor permeated the gameplay, with many moments where we’d laugh and celebrate getting to do something cool and funny. The puzzles were consistently fun and smooth.

The Dungeon presented a thoughtful, well-paced approach to a split-team start. With a large number of puzzles available in parallel from the very beginning of the game, this approach provided smaller subteams with starting directives while still physically allowing for clear communication amongst all players. As players exited their cells, there was no pause in the puzzling action.

➕ A unique physical interaction utilized the full space and encouraged collaboration.

➕ One puzzle presented an elegant riff on a popular video game, displayed on a versatile interface.

➖ The majority of The Dungeon was just a dungeon game. With the premise of our avocado crimes presented up front, I could have used a few extra dollops of avocado sprinkled throughout the game.

➕ Once there was avocado, there really was avocado. An unexpected depth to the lore elevated this theme to something quirky and special.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with PuzzleWorks’ The Dungeon, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: PuzzleWorks provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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