North Valley Escape Room – Arizona Steampunk Railway [Review]

C’mon baby, do the Loco-motion!

Location:  Anthem, AZ

Date Played: September 14, 2022

Team Size: 1-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 1-3 players, $109 per room; 4-8 players, $29.95 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Strong motion alert – please let your gamemaster know before your game begins if you do not tolerate motion, as it can be adjusted down or even eliminated altogether. Also, there are several stairs to enter the experience.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Having played several great games at North Valley Escape Rooms, I was very excited to play their newest experience, Arizona Steampunk Railway. As we approached a railcar – which was the entrance to the game – my first thought was, how did they fit an entire train in this building? We walked up a few stairs and into the caboose. As the game clock started and the train “left the station,” the entire car started rocking back and forth, side to side, simulating forward movement.

A table and chair beside a window on a steampunk train.

The overall set for the game was over-the-top amazing, from the intricate woodwork, a stunning metallic ceiling, and large picture windows showcasing the passing countryside. But it was the true-to-life motion that really sets this game apart. They warn you ahead of time that if the motion is too strong, it can be throttled down. We played on a low speed and it was plenty for the effect. You need to play this game just to experience it. 

The puzzles were challenging, as clues were not always obvious. Several multilayered puzzles fit the theme well and were a joy to solve. While most puzzles were highly thematic, others seemed oddly out of place on a train, though still engaging and fun. Two puzzles had components that did not stay in place; we had to repeatedly replace these parts and finally just stood there and held them until an event triggered. Another puzzle, which only involved one player at a time, stopped our momentum entirely as we each took turns trying to solve it. But once we moved past this early puzzle, game flow was fast and smooth and led us to a thrilling conclusion. We finished the game with a nail-biting 45 seconds remaining!

The games we’ve played at North Valley Escape Room are immersive and fun to play and this one is no exception. If you are in Phoenix and are looking for a fast-paced puzzling journey, buy your ticket and take a ride on the Arizona Steampunk Express. 

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Railroad aficionados

Why play?

  • Cool set with amazing, immersive effects
  • Interesting theme that combines steampunk with a retro railway

Story

It was the early 1800s; we had a ticket to ride the Arizona Steampunk Express, but we learned that outlaws had been robbing trains along this route. We’d heard there were valuables on this train, and we needed to prevent bandits from blowing up the tracks and stealing treasures brought on board.

An ornate ceiling and light fixture in a steampunk train.

Setting

The set consisted of highly detailed train cars, circa 1800s, combined with mechanical steampunk accents. Realistic special effects enhanced the immersion, making it feel as if the train was barreling down the tracks at a high speed.

A car within a steampunk train. There is a table, two chairs, a piano, and a sofa.

Gameplay

North Valley’s Arizona Steampunk Railway was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling. There was a good variety of puzzle types: logic, dexterity and reasoning. This enabled players with different skills to take the lead on certain puzzles.

Analysis

➕ If I were kidnapped, blindfolded, and thrown in the middle of this escape room, but then managed to break free and remove my blindfold, first I would be very upset. Second, I would almost believe I was on a moving train heading to some unknown location in the middle of Arizona. Great, realistic set.

➕ The “steampunk” aspect added a refreshing new dimension to the typical train theme, as the design effectively blended futuristic mechanical elements with an industrial, steam-powered railroad set and story. This resulted in an elevated experience that felt both familiar and unique.

➖ A couple of puzzles felt out of place, not really making sense as part of this world. While still fun to interact with and solve, there was an opportunity to bring them into the overall story, further enhancing immersion.

➕ One early reveal was so realistic and unexpected that we all paused for a moment and just took it in. For a moment I considered an action that would have most definitely earned a strict reprimand from the gamemaster. I still really wanted to do it though.

➖ Two separate puzzles had several pieces that kept falling out on the floor, requiring someone to repeatedly put them back and hold them in place. One player got hit in the head with the pieces. This should be corrected, to avoid injury due to the falling objects as well as improve player experience.

➕ The steps leading up to the finale were exciting and tense, and the conclusion was satisfying. At our request, we were shown the alternate ending for when the objective wasn’t completed in time, and it was fun and even more amusing!

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • There are many restaurants in the area; we enjoyed a quick meal between games at Koi Sushi & Wok.

Book your hour with North Valley Escape Room’s Arizona Steampunk Railway, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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