PanIQ Room – Wizard Trials [Review]

Where there’s a wand there’s a way

Location: Austin, Texas

Date Played: August 28, 2022

Team Size: 2-7; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39/player for public game, $45/player for private game

Ticketing: Both Public and private options are available

Accessibility Consideration:  At least one player must use a step.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical

REA Reaction

Wizard Trials was an average puzzle game wrapped in an impressive set but marred by some peripheral design issues. Puzzle-focused enthusiasts likely won’t find enough substance here for the price, but newer players might be justifiably delighted. I’m actively considering bringing my kids back to play this.

The game offered an enticing thematic package: a convincing set, voice-acted hints and nudges, a fair amount of tech-driven “magic,” and a satisfying payoff to the story. Wands also played a persistent role in the room, an interaction that I’d been waiting to see come to Austin. This cohesive and fanciful ambiance was the main draw for the game.

The puzzles were straightforward, with the wand mechanic adding whimsy to otherwise common designs. Although the puzzles were generally approachable for a broad audience, a couple had questionable discoverability for newer players. Also, some set wear made another puzzle more enigmatic than likely intended.

The game’s most pervasive flaw centered around its imprecise use of sounds for cuing, cluing, and confirming. Bells, whistles, and wizardly advice were common throughout the experience, but it was hard to distinguish whether these things were focusing our attention, nudging us in a different direction, or just letting us know we did something right. This was more distracting than harmful.

If viewed as a starter game for newer players, Wizard Trials had a lot to offer. It would be a fine choice for local families (ages 8+) looking for an opportunity to puzzle together.

A wizard's study with a large desk surrounded by books

Who is this for?

  • Scenery snobs
  • Fantasy fans
  • Families and newbies
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • To wield a wand
  • As a family outing with tweens

Story

The wizard’s drago…er…cat needed to take its medicine, but the wizard was inexplicably averse to completing this task himself. Enter us, aspiring wizards-in-training. If we could find the pet and mix up its medicine, we might survive to become apprentices.

A wizard's laboratory with assorted diagrams, and trinkets.

Setting

We explored lushly adorned wizard’s chambers that balanced a convincing and thorough aesthetic with an effective minimalism. All the props and set pieces served a purpose and felt appropriate in this world.

The fireplace in a wizard's laboratory.

Gameplay

PanIQ Room’s Wizard Trials was a standard escape room with a moderately low degree of difficulty.

Puzzles involved making connections, searching, a dose of trial and error, and the masterful use of wands.

Analysis

βž• The ambiance gave us an excellent first impression of PanIQ Room. The walls and set pieces were fanciful and fun to interact with.

βž•/βž– The hint system involved tapping a HINT button on a touchscreen kiosk. This was a responsive way to trigger voice-acted hints, but also a glaringly modern departure from the otherwise cohesive ambiance.

βž• There was nary a traditional lock in this experience. We solved puzzles via other mystical mechanisms, a design choice befitting of the wizarding theme.

βž– Even though the puzzles used thematic props and interactions, most of them also felt unconnected to the narrative.

βž• We got to wave wands throughout the room. It was always clear when to use them, and the mechanic was both delightful and reliable.

βž– It was frequently unclear what various sound effects were trying to communicate.

βž– One puzzle had an inexplicable amount of irrelevant writing on it. In a room with otherwise tight purposes for its set pieces, this was confusing.

βž– A couple of puzzles suffered from poor discoverability, especially for players who haven’t encountered similar constructs before. One was too easy to interact with in a way that failed to uncover the important element. Another had elaborate initial behavior that obscured more important interactions with it.

βž– One puzzle had some wear that led us to interpret its behavior as glitches.

βž• The finale was narratively satisfying and endearing.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is plenty of parking right outside of PanIQ Room.
  • There are many favorite Austin restaurants nearby, as well as the iconic Peter Pan Mini-Golf.
  • If you’re familiar with the Austin market, you might notice that PanIQ Room took over the location that was previously Lockout. Even though they kept some of the themes of the Lockout rooms, they created their own experiences for those themes. This is not the same room as Lockout’s Enchanted.

Book your hour with PanIQ Room’s Wizard Trials, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: PanIQ Room provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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