Gnome & Raven – Tomb Ruins [Review]

Fun with Pharaohs.

Location:  Richmond, VA

Date Played:  October 12, 2022

Team Size: 1-12; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price:  Varies based on number of players, $120 for 1-4 players

Ticketing:  Private

Accessibility Consideration:  The floor is covered in sand

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

If you’ve been playing escape rooms for a while, you’ve probably encountered an Egyptian room or two. But while Gnome & Raven’s Tomb Ruins checks all the boxes – sand, sarcophagi, hieroglyphics, even Anubis makes a cameo! – this room stands out from other similar-themed rooms due to the size and uniqueness of the game space. Tomb Ruins (as well as the other games at Gnome & Raven) has a huge space within the game itself where you can host a party after you’ve escaped.

The setup: Tomb raiders had stolen a sacred raven belonging to Pharoah Nekauba and we had to return it so her curse would be broken. But the narrative quickly shifted to the background as we ran around the large game space, searching and puzzling. This expansive area allowed us to work together or split up and work independently, depending on the puzzle, and resulted in a fluid gaming experience. While the physical space was big enough for up to 12 players, we recommend 3-6 players if everyone wants to be engaged in solving the experience. We were able to complete all the puzzles with our experienced team of 3; we just had to move quickly and cover more space.

Puzzles were unique and thematic, though quite a few involved creatively written instructions that basically told us what tasks to do and how to do them. While less experienced or younger players may find this level of direction helpful, we would have preferred less instructive clues. One puzzle was a challenge simply because we couldn’t hear it clearly, but we worked together and solved it after a few tries. The integrated tech worked smoothly and added to the immersion, but it was a few large-scale, tactile puzzles that impressed us the most.

A tent at an archeological dig. A woman's clothes are laid out on the bed.

Gnome & Raven’s games were impressive, must-play experiences due to their large-scale, immersive sets, thematic puzzles and in-world party facilities. We were in Washington, D.C., and drove two hours just to play all their games! Bring your team, large or small, to Gnome & Raven and play Tomb Ruins. While you are there, check out Wizards Castle, Shipwrecked! and Magic Lamp, which was a 2022 Golden Lock winner. It will be well worth the trip.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
  • Players who don’t mind a little sand in their shoes

Why play?

  • Fun in-character intros
  • Set that goes on and on
  • In-world party space with room for plenty of friends

Story

When archaeologists uncovered the ancient Egyptian tomb of Pharaoh Nekauba, they unleashed the Pharoah’s curse! To appease her wrath, you must seek out and replace her sacred Stone Raven.

Closeup of an engraving of Anubis.

Setting

Tomb Ruins took place in an Egyptian tomb setting, with hieroglyphics on the walls, dim lighting in some spaces and a good amount of sand, creating an immersive environment. But what made this room stand out from other Egyptian rooms was the size of the overall game space; it was much larger than a typical escape room and could easily accommodate teams up to 12 players.

A large tent at an archeological dig with a long wooden table and benches.

Gameplay

Gnome & Raven’s Tomb Ruins was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ A theatrical, in-character introduction by the gamemaster had our team smiling and making jokes before we even entered the room. This extension of the magic circle was entertaining and set the stage for a fun, immersive experience. 

➕ Puzzles were straightforward and approachable. Many had hands-on props, making this a great game for both new and experienced players, as well as kids with a lot of energy to burn. There were several puzzles particularly suited for larger groups, though still solvable by smaller teams as well.

➖ We struggled with one puzzle later in the game where we couldn’t clearly hear the audio clues no matter how many times they were repeated. While we eventually solved the puzzle, re-recording the audio would make the solution easier to identify.

➕ The set was well-built, with cool props that were fun to interact with. Though expansive, the space never felt too large for the game. The attention to detail also added to the immersion; frankly, it was just a fun, well thought-out set. 

➕/➖ Thematic props conveyed information that led players from task to task as well as provided details on how to solve, which can help players stay focused on what’s important so the game moves forward at a good pace. However, we found it a bit too directed and would have preferred fewer overt clues.

➕ Gnome & Raven offers several packages that include use of the amazing in-game party space. This area was so well-integrated into the actual game space, it felt like it belonged there, even without a party. It was unexpected, yet made the set that much more interesting and impressive.

Tips For Visiting

  • Gnome & Raven is located in an outdoor mall with plenty of free parking.
  • Bottles of chilled water were available to players throughout the experience, a nice touch for thirsty players who’ve been busily puzzling in the sandy Egyptian setting.

Book your hour with Gnome & Raven’s Tomb Ruins, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Gnome & Raven comped our tickets for this game.

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