Equal parts potions and patience
Location: at home
Date Played: July 19, 2023
Team size: 2 or more players; we recommend 2-3
Duration: 60 minutes
Age: 8+; we recommend 8+ with strong reading skills
Price: about $12
My kids have been Paper Adventures veterans since before they started to play IRL escape rooms, and their attitude toward this format has shifted over that transition. As they’ve experienced more immersive forms of puzzling entertainment, their patience with at-home games has relied on the ability of the games to capture their imagination, either through clever interactive components, puzzles that require them to process the story, or surprising interactions with their environment. I shuffled two pairs of kids through this game: two 10-year-olds, and a 7- and 8-year-old duo. The imagination-heavy younger children found this installment to fit those criteria well enough, though they needed a lot of help with the puzzles. The older, logic-minded children found it to be too tedious to enjoy.
Everyone loved the theme and general story line, which aligned closely with Harry Potter and had the kids recognizing connections throughout. In some ways, the theme overpowered the puzzles; the younger team set off on an invented side-quest of flying around the house on brooms, and the older kids complained of the exorbitant amount (for kids) of extraneous text and world-building. This Paper Adventures game was targeted at an older age group (8+) than the others we had played, and much of the increased difficulty came from having to sort through a lot of text for relevant information. This contributed to the puzzles’ inability to hold the kids’ attention at times.
I also judged the puzzles to be less approachable than in other Paper Adventures games. Some of the props and game mechanics required kids to intuit what was allowed within the game, which felt unnatural to them and required coaxing. Other puzzles suffered from red herrings or lengthy process tasks. We also recognized the core of some puzzles from an earlier Paper Adventures game, leaving the previously delightful reveals to fall a bit flat.
Overall, I’m not sure any of the kids experienced this game quite as it was intended. The younger kids were overly enthralled with their imaginations, and the older kids were too impatient to troubleshoot the puzzles. From this I gather that the ideal audience needs a touch of whimsy, a bigger touch of focus and resilience, and a willingness to experiment. And they need to love wizards. If that doesn’t describe the kids in your life, check out Paper Adventures’s Great Space Escape instead.
Who is this for?
- Story seekers
- Harry Potter fans
- Kids over the age of 8 who can read well
- Wizard-obsessed children will enjoy the theme.
The kids had been invited to apply to wizard school, which required them to complete a six-part test to prove their skills.
The printable game materials were divided into six “chapters,” each containing an explanation of the story progression and a set of related puzzle clues. An adult gamemaster’s main pre-game tasks were choosing a location for each chapter, cutting and assembling the clues for that chapter’s puzzle, and learning the puzzle well enough to guide teams through it.
One puzzle required a window, and another needed to occur in the kitchen. The rest were fairly space-agnostic unless you want to decorate for ambiance.
The entire setup process took me about an hour, partially because I found some of the construction instructions to be trickier than usual. That said, I should have taken more time to prepare for my role as gamemaster; the puzzles required more guidance than I was expecting.
Paper Adventures’ Great Wizard Escape was a kid-oriented print-and-play escape room kit with a moderate level of difficulty for its audience. Players moved from room to room in their home, meeting new characters and solving a linear set of puzzles along the way.
The puzzles involved searching, making connections, decoding, interacting with papercrafts, and math. Players needed to be able to read well and to complete simple arithmetic.
This experience required an adult gamemaster to validate answers and direct players where to go next. The game provided a “Game on a Page” single-sheet reference to support this effort, consolidating all of the solutions, dialogue, and hints. The game also included a more verbose Game Master Book that thoroughly explained each solution.
➕ The theme and artwork were rich and captivating for the audience.
➖ It was overly difficult for the kids to home in on the relevant information in multiple puzzles. Sometimes this was an art issue (tiny print or murky fonts), and other times it resulted from information overload.
➖ One puzzle seemed to have two correct answers.
➕/➖ All the players were delighted with one particular set of props… only to painfully realize that they had to destroy them!
➕ The game’s sense of humor resonated with the kids. They giggled quite a bit at some of the hiding places for clues as well as at some of the dialog.
➕ The game benefited from having multiple players to problem-solve with, though three is the maximum I would recommend.
➖ The hint system was unnecessarily cumbersome and not always useful enough to arrive at the solution. I needed to supplement it as the gamemaster.
➖ The setup time was high for this game, especially including the time necessary to pre-learn the puzzles.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: This game is intended to be played throughout six areas, which should include a kitchen, a table or chair, and a bed.
- Required Gear: Scissors, glue, pencil, tape, mobile device with internet access
- I pre-cut the first puzzle even though the instructions leave that as a task for players. Otherwise, it promised to be a bottleneck.
- The gamemaster should become familiar with the puzzles and answers beforehand and be prepared to offer hints beyond the suggested ones. I admit I skimped on this because the other Paper Adventures games had been easy enough for me to manage in the moment.
Buy your copy of Paper Adventures’s Great Wizard Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Paper Adventures provided media copies for review.