On “Spinning The Last Disk” in an Escape Room [Player Tip]

Rex, one of our top Patreon supporters, asks:

“What do you guys think about opening locks when you have all but one digit discovered (which is easy to do and helps with time) – does it matter? Is it a bit of a party foul? It’s a question that comes up in a lot of rooms.”

This is a recurring question. Our opinions on the subject have evolved quite a bit over our escape room careers.

This is a simple question, but the answer is nuanced.

The Simple Answer

Guessing the last digit (or spinning the last disk) when you think that you’ve solved the rest of a combination is fair play. 

At that point you’re down to a 1 in 10 chance of having the right solution. It’s really more like a 1 in 9 shot because whether you want to or not, you have one digit inputted. Hell… there’s a 10% chance that the lock just falls open because you’re accidentally on the right solution.

Cool. We can call it a post and go home?

Nah… there’s more to this.

Closeup of a stylized combination lock.

The Complex Answer

I’m going to stand by, “spinning the last disk” is generally fine, but I’ll explain why it’s fine.

Then I’ll explore the finer points of how to handle “spinning the last disk.”

Brute Force

Brute force, or the act of guessing solutions until one works, is a tried and true cryptographic technique. Blindly guessing works. It’s just a function of time and probability.

To be clear, brute force is a concept far older than escape rooms. It should not be confused with breaking things.

Probability

On a typical lock, which will have 10 possible digits on each individual disk, the probability of blindly guessing the right solution looks like this:

2 digit lock = 100 number sets

3 digit lock = 1,000 number sets

4 digit lock = 10,000 number sets

5 digits = 100,000 number sets

6 digits = 1,000,000 number sets

Sensibility

In an escape room, you’ve paid for the game. You can choose what to do with your time in the game, within reason.

If you think that spinning the disks on a $10 lock to randomly guess the 1 in 1,000 solution is a smart way to spend $30 for an hour in an escape room, then can I take a moment to rock your world with this 4 pack of combination locks?

I don’t think this makes any sense at all. Guessing against even moderately bad odds is a waste of time.

Spinning a 1 in 10 disk after you’ve already solved the overwhelming majority of the puzzles, therefore having played that aspect of the game… that feels better than fine. That feels logical.

Human existence is complicated, however, so there’s also etiquette to keep in mind.

Etiquette

If I’m inputting the solution into a lock for my team while the solution is being derived, I’m absolutely going to spin the last disk. 100% guaranteed.

How I handle it might vary based on the puzzle, the team, and the circumstances.

Just Open It

If time is running low, or the puzzle is taking too long and I can tell that no one is having fun with it, I’ll just open the thing, announce the last digit to the room, and distribute the new clues.

The same goes for counting/ search puzzles. If we’ve found most of the items and know that the code is close, I’ll fiddle with the disks, adding a number or two on each wheel until the thing opens.

No one I know will be upset about missing out on the opportunity to do a little more searching.

Let The Team Earn Their Solve

If my teammates are working hard on the puzzle and seem to be enjoying themselves, I’ll spin the last disk, quietly open the lock, and then wait until they shout out the right answer before saying, “Great! It’s open,” and distributing the clues to the team.

It’s better to lose a few seconds over a puzzle that you know will be solved than to damage team morale over something unnecessary.

The Finer Points

The bottom line here is that there is a balance between gamesmanship and etiquette.

You should:

  • feel free to spin the last disk.
  • read the room and hold back on announcing the solve if the team is enjoying the puzzle, especially if you’re not feeling time pressure
  • announce the solve to your team and distribute the puzzle pieces among the players

You should not:

  • spend your time randomly guessing blindly on locks that you have no clues to, not because it’s bad form but because it’s silly
  • silently spin the last disk and then quietly leave your team behind

For more on this subject

This is an updated thought process on one of our earliest player/ design tips. I still think that a lot of that post holds up. Feel free to give it a read if this is a subject that you enjoy.

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Patreon

Finally, a big thank you to Rex and all of our other Patreon supporters.

This website has been a passion project for almost 5 years now and running it takes a ton of time, energy, and brainpower. The money that we receive from our supporters at all levels helps to fuel our engine.

Please consider joining the ranks of our Patreon supporters.

Pringles Mystery Flavor [Review]

Once you pop… the fine print mysteries don’t stop!

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 26, 2019

Team size: Do you want to share?

REA Reaction

Wow. That didn’t suck. Pringles bucked the trend and delivered an edible Mystery Flavor product… instead of some lab accident that they could never sell with proper labeling. (The people behind Peeps are monsters).

I’m a Pringles fan. I enjoy the texture. I’m fond of the flavor. I love the tube and stackability. I think it appeals to my sense of order.

The Pringles logo on the Mystery Flavor Pringles tube.

Is this Mystery Flavor better than the original? Probably not.

Is this Mystery Flavor superior to Sour Cream & Onion Pringles? Hell no… but what is?

However… the flavor isn’t the real mystery. Instead, it’s the bewildering rules of the contest. The rules clearly state “No purchase necessary…” but you cannot submit a flavor guess without an image of your ^&*$!@# receipt!

The top of the Mystery Flavor Pringles tube. The $10,000 prize is highlighted.

It takes digging into the rules to learn that without a receipt, you have to mail in a 3” x 5” piece of paper containing a bunch of information… which is what we’d have to do to enter the contest, since a lovely reader sent us this product as a gift.

Anyway, the Mystery Flavor Pringles were good, but the contest itself was a laborious waste of time.

Who is this for?

  • Pringles fans
  • Mystery food junkies
  • Lawyers

Why play?

  • The food’s pretty good.

Gameplay

To begin, you’ll have to acquire a tube of Mystery Flavor Pringles, only available at Walgreens.

Next you’ll want to check for the flavor seal. You can’t have any of that mystery escaping the tube.

The sealed top of the Mystery Flavor Pringles tube. The words, "Look for the flavor seal" are centered in frame.

Your next step is to pop the top. Finally you can indulge in the mysterious flavor.

One whole, unbroken mystery flavor Pringle resting on a bed of broken chips. The chips have an orangey appearance.

The last step is submitting your flavor guess for a chance to win $10,000 — or in my case, you can spend a few minutes reading a rules PDF before abandoning the contest because it’s structured for administrative ease, not user need.

Analysis

➕ These Pringles actually tasted good. We’re going to finish that tube off and we won’t even trick our friends into eating them.

Spoiler: What did it taste like?

It had a sort of barbecue cheese thing going on. It was very cheesy and smelled most strongly of cheese. There was a bit of paprika in there. I think it was a queso or nacho. If I’m being precise, I think the flavor was “cheap stadium nacho.” I’m confident that if you guess that, it will earn you $10,000 in the contest.

[collapse]

➕ The gold packaging featured a cryptex-like design spelling out the word “MYSTERY” really spoke to me.

The gold Mystery Flavor Pringles tube with a cryptex-like graphic that reads "MYSTERY."

➕ I really respected the decision makers over at Pringles who resisted the urge to force the graphic designers to make the logo bigger.

➖ I’m not sure what’s going on with the weird repeating pattern down at bottom of the tube. That was a great opportunity to embed a cipher or puzzle… or do nothing. Nothing would have looked better.

➖ The contest website was mediocre and submitting to it was a pain. This begs the question: why would Pringles do something to build goodwill with its customers – like run a contest – only to make the whole process so arduous that it leaves those customers with a bad impression of the brand?

The Pringle Tasting Hot Take

As a thank you to our Patreon supporters for helping us reach our early goals, we recorded our Mystery Pringle tasting for them. Each month we share a hot take on Patreon. It might be a reaction to an escape room just as we finish playing it. It might be a reaction to something more unusual. Join our Patreon backers for more exclusive content!

Tips For Playing

  • Mystery Flavor Pringles are only available at Walgreens.
  • You must submit your flavor guesses by July 30, 2019, to be eligible to win.

Thank you to Rex Millar for sending us our tube of Mystery Flavor Pringles.

Escape Maze – The Curious Case of Cariboo Cameron [Review]

Gold digger?

Location:  Peterborough, Ontario

Date Played: May 26, 2019

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.00 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escape Maze’s world was set in a late 1800s, post-gold rush Canada. The company is on a farm and the games were built within a beautiful old barn.

The Curious Case of Cariboo Cameron was traditional, low-tech escape room gaming done right. Escape Maze knows their aesthetic and thoroughly sticks to it. Their puzzles ranged in difficulty and were generally well executed.

In-game: locked luggage and boxes.
Image via Escape Maze

Additionally, Escape Maze mines stories from Canada’s history for their games. That was great fun.

If I was going to ask for anything more, it would be a greater variety of interactions and deeper story integration.

If you love puzzling in charming environments, Escape Maze would be well worth a drive out into the Ontario countryside.

Who is this for?

  • Scenery snobs
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The Escape Maze farm is incredible
  • Escape Maze’s 19th century aesthetic
  • Traditional escape room gaming executed really well

Story

Cariboo Cameron loved two things in life: gold and his wife. When his wife passed away, he continued traveling with her coffin. When Cameron entered customs in New York, his wife’s coffin curiously weighed in at 400 pounds.

This begged the question, what was in the coffin? We had to find out.

In-game: an old parlor in a barn. There are antiques all over and a headstone in the corner.
Image via Escape Maze

Setting

Escape Maze was built inside of an old barn on a sprawling, active farm. It was a gorgeous place.

The Curious Case of Cariboo Cameron, along with everything at Escape Maze, was set in the late 1800s. The gamespace was a log cabin with a very large, very heavy coffin in the middle of it.

In-game: A wall of antiques shot from high up.
Image via Escape Maze

Gameplay

Escape Maze’s The Curious Case of Cariboo Cameron was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A wall of newspaper clippings.
Image via Escape Maze

Analysis

➕ The farm and barn were beautiful. I wish that I had had a little more time to spend just taking it all in.

➕ Escape Maze had an all-around fantastic and unique aesthetic. This was a low-tech escape game accentuated by details and aesthetics.

➕/➖ There were a lot of great challenges in this puzzle-focused game. At the same time, however, it felt a little one-note. For the most part, we solved puzzles that opened locks.

➕ There was a simple, no-tech puzzle that I loved. It was one of those moments where I stopped everyone to show the team how a puzzle solved.

In-game: A large headstone.
Image via Escape Maze

➖ One puzzle was totally solvable, but we found how to approach it ambiguous. We collectively spent a ton of time getting the lay of the land on this puzzle and I don’t think it was worth it.

➕ The story was loosely woven into the game, but it was unique and amusing.

❓ Basically everything at Escape Maze was set in the late 1800s including the bathrooms outhouses. I thought that this was delightful… your opinion might vary.

Tips For Visiting

  • While traveling to Escape Maze, you might think, “there’s no way that there is an escape room out here.” When you think that, just keep driving.
  • Parking: Escape Maze has a parking lot.
  • Accessibility: The game doesn’t really have limitations, but it is set on a farm and getting around that space might prove difficult for those with mobility restrictions.

Book your hour with Escape Maze’s The Curious Case of Cariboo Cameron, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Maze comped our tickets for this game.

The Privilege of Escape [Reaction]

Fun then thought-provoking.

Location:  New York City, NY

Date Played: July 17, 2019

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: free (limited availability)

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Risa Puno is a skilled creator of unusual, purposeful games. She’s also an escape room player. These traits immediately emerged when we first interviewed Risa about her Creative Time-supported project, The Privilege of Escape. Risa didn’t choose the escape room format because it was trendy. She selected it because she liked the medium and wanted to do something special with it.

In-game: a large black 20 sided sculpture.
Image via Creative Time

Nevertheless, we were a little skeptical that The Privilege of Escape would find a non-threatening, inoffensive way to demonstrate its thesis. It would have been easy to create a game that worked only for individuals who accepted its premise at the onset. We’ve experienced a lot of mediocre immersive theatre that falls into this “preaching to the choir” rut.

The Privilege of Escape avoided this trap. It elegantly demonstrated its thesis.

In-game: a strage geometric sculpture, and a input terminal with multi-colored buttons.
Image via Creative Time

As an escape room, The Privilege of Escape had a fantastic variety of puzzles, locks, and technology. The set had a clean yet unique look. The experience included in-character staff. Above all, it was entertaining and challenging.

The Privilege of Escape‘s premise was that we entered a study conducted by “The Institute.” We were split into two groups. The groups raced against each other to complete the challenges. Saying more – or any deeper critique – would spoil too much.

In-game: a black and white room with numbers on the wall, a large gridded table, oversized dice, and a tall jenga-like tower.
Image via Creative Time

When all was said and done, the game’s intent and thesis became clear. It leaned heavily on show rather than tell; that’s why it worked… that and it was free. This would not be a commercially viable concept.

This was a smart game on so many levels. When its run concludes, I look forward to breaking down in more detail how and why this experience worked (and a couple of things that could have been improved upon).

If you could get tickets (and at this point you probably cannot), you absolutely should experience The Privilege of Escape.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: It’s Midtown Manhattan; use public transit.
  • When you enter the address, walk to the center of the building and down a flight of stairs to find The Institute.

Book your hour with Creative Time’s The Privilege of Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Omescape – Defend the Magic Academy [Review]

Confundus!

Location:  Scarborough, Ontario

Date Played: May 26, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $37.50 CAD per player (save $3 with a social media check in)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Some of my favorite games to write about are the ones that I simultaneously loved and hated. Buckle up because Omescape’s Defend The Magic Academy was one of those bumpy rides.

I truly enjoyed Defend The Magic Academy’s puzzles and gameplay (with one musical exception). Omescape concluded the experience with a boss battle that really shined. This final sequence kept our whole team energized, engaged, and collaborating.

In-game: A fenced in area with strange waterfall made of pots.

Omescape’s minimal gamemaster staffing combined with a tech failure to result in a significant potion of this experience utterly collapsing. I cover it in detail below, but the bottom line is that Omescape charged a premium price for this escape game, but provided bargain-basement service.

Defend The Magic Academy was a highly recommended game among the Toronto player community; I can absolutely see why. Our play-though was plagued with a number of problems that probably don’t happen all of the time, but they happened in such spectacular fashion that it’s impossible to parse them from the experience.

If you’re in the area and looking for a strong puzzle game in a nice set, Defend The Magic Academy is worth playing with 4 people, no more, no less. I’m not convinced that it’s worth the extra money relative to some of the other top-tier games in the region, but it still offers a lot to love.

Who is this for?

  • Harry Potter fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Some strong puzzling moments
  • A great final sequence

Story

For ages, evil magical creatures had roamed the earth until they were sealed away with powerful magic. Centuries later the power containing that evil was weakening. As prime sorcerers of the academy, we had to gather our strength and spells to beat back the monsters and strengthen the seal that cast them out of our world.

In-game: The magic school's sign. You can see an array of glowing red LEDs below it.

Setting

We began our adventure in the Magic Academy’s courtyard and had to solve our way inside of the ancient building.

The set looked pretty good. It was large, well painted, and had a number of fun interactions. The overt technology stood out in a less-than-ideal way because it didn’t feel magical at all.

Gameplay

Omescape’s Defend the Magic Academy was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ There was a lot to like in Defend The Magic Academy’s set.

➕/➖ I enjoyed the use of technology to represent magic. Unfortunately too many of these interactions looked and felt like technology, not magic. Omescape put little to no effort into concealing buttons and LEDs.

➕ I really enjoyed the puzzles in this game. It had a fantastic assortment of challenges, including some novel takes on classic puzzle types.

➖ There was a color puzzle where there were significant mismatches in the coloration of the clues and the inputs.

➖ There was a complex and unhintable sound puzzle in this game. We didn’t have anyone on the team who excelled at this kind of challenge and it was made more difficult by the layout of the inputs. In the end, we had to ask the gamemaster to come in and just do it for us. I can think of a few ways that hinting, simplifying, or bypassing could have been possible without completely stopping the game.

➖ We encountered a tech failure that halted the game for a long time. On its own, this should not have a problem. This was compounded, however, by Omescape’s gamemastering and hinting model.

➖ For hints, we received a walkie-talkie (not a great delivery system for a magic game, but that’s beside the point). When we needed a hint we had to call out and identify which room we were in. The gamemaster then gave us our hint. It was clear to us that the gamemaster was responsible for managing multiple rooms and not watching us at all… thus never noticing the tech fail.

When I called out for a hint, the gamemaster just kept talking at us and telling us things that we had already figured out but couldn’t execute on because we were missing items due to the malfunction. Because we were over a walkie-talkie, I couldn’t speak back.

As the “hint” droned on and on, I eventually had to yell to get the gamemaster to stop speaking and realize what was actually going on. I basically never yell, and this was the first time that I’ve ever done so at escape room staff.

To be clear, I do not hold the gamemaster accountable for this failure. This is a failure of design and management. This is emblematic of a systemic business problem, not underperforming personnel.

➖ Yes, this was a 90-minute game. No, it didn’t feel premium relative to other top tier games in Toronto. If a company is going to charge top dollar for a premium game, I expect a dedicated gamemaster. It’s either premium or it isn’t.

Defend The Magic Academy concluded with an energetic and engaging boss battle. I absolutely loved this puzzle and the collaborative dynamic that it fostered in our team.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: Omescape has a parking lot.
  • Food: There are plenty of food options nearby.
  • Accessibility: There is a section that requires crawling, Omescape can bypass this segment for a player if needed.

Book your hour with Omescape’s Defend the Magic Academy, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

8 San Antonio Escape Room Conference Talks That We’re Interested In

Every year we’re asked about the talks that we’re interested in attending at any given escape room conference.

A few notes before we dive in…

  • For a talk to make this list we’ve got to be really excited about both the speaker and the subject.
  • We’re skipping all of the introductory escape room/ business/ marketing stuff (sorry Benito). If you need the 101, then that’s what you should go to.
  • We know of most of these speakers, but not all. There are probably some gems that we’re unaware of.
Room Escape Conference & Tour logo, an abstract head with a maze, keyhole, and clock.

Presented in date order:

Tuesday

1. Playtesting: The Right Way to Get the Most Out of Your Idea!

10AM

Raymond Reint was supposed to be on our innovation panel at Up The Game this year, but that got screwed up by a scheduling SNAFU. Raymond has a diverse game design background and I’d be eager to hear what he has to say… if I wasn’t scheduled to speak at the same time that he is.

2. Safety Panel: The Biggest Threat to the Escape Room Industry

10AM

Yes, I’m on this panel. Yes, I think that this is the absolute most pressing issue to discuss in the escape room industry in 2019. Yes, I think you should come.

3. Welcome to the Game Industry: Now Act Like It! (Design Better Games and Puzzles)

3PM

Shawn Fischtein of Escape Games Canada is always an interesting speaker. Even when I disagree with him, I find his message worth thinking about.

Wednesday

4. Make it Memorable: Dramatic Structure in Escape Games

10:45AM

Haley Cooper of Strange Bird Immersive is the only owner/ blogger that I follow habitually. There are few in this industry as artistic, articulate, and giving of their knowledge as Haley. This is one of the talks that Lisa and I will not miss.

And… for what it’s worth, it’s a bummer that this talk is counter-programmed against Kayden Ressel of THE BASEMENT’s presentation, Building Effective Ad Campaigns for Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. We’ll have to send someone to Kayden’s talk.

5. Lighting and Automation: Shining the Light on Efficiency!

2:15PM

Cameron Cooper of Strange Bird Immersive is like Haley… but quieter and doesn’t get the same attention. (Lisa might be able to relate.) He’s brilliant and he’s speaking on a subject that I’d like to learn more about on a practical level. This is a must-see for me.

Thursday

6. The State of the Escape Room Industry

8AM – Free

This one is us. You should come. The talk will be well researched, rational, and reasonably humorous.

7. Narrative: You’re Doing it Wrong!

9:15AM

Hatch Escape Rooms is on the short list of escape room companies that are diving into the deep end of narrative gameplay. I do not know if I’ll be able to step off stage and into this session, but I’m going to try.

8. TEST SUBJECTS: What Have We Learned

10:45AM

We had a lengthy conversation with Bizzaro, Greg, and Krystal at Transworld in St. Louis earlier this year. I’m curious to see what their talk is like. If it’s half as interesting as our dialog, then it should be well worth the time.

To learn more, check out the conference website.

Simulacra Games – The Wilson Wolfe Affair [Review]

Animated

Location:  at home

Date Played: Spring 2019

Team size: we recommend 2-4

Duration: variable, there is a lot of game

Price: £59 for Silver Package, £119 for Gold Package, £219 for Platinum Package

REA Reaction

We dove down the rabbit hole that was Simulacra Games’ The Wilson Wolfe Affair, Silver Package (the smallest, but still quite substantial edition).

This puzzle hunt-style game was very difficult in comparison to escape rooms and felt pretty average in terms of puzzle hunt challenge level.

A movie poster for Wilson Wolfe "Ice Odyssey" features the feline title character exploring frozen tundra dragging an ice block with a mummy in it.

The Wilson Wolfe Affair really shined in its production value. The materials and design were consistently beautiful. The writing felt strong and in-character throughout every item… and there were a lot of items. Additionally, the puzzles that made use of some of the more animation-focused components really stole the show.

The Wilson Wolfe Affair stumbled in some aspects of game design, particularly on-boarding, which was chaotic, and led to many of the game’s less than stellar moments. There were also a few puzzles that played it a little too loose for my taste.

All in all, I’m happy that we spent 4 evenings playing through The Wilson Wolfe Affair. I was content with only playing the Silver Package. Although there is a part of me that’s curious about some of the puzzles we never got to see, when all was said and done, I was fine turning to my teammates and saying, “That’s all, folks.”

If you’re a puzzle hunter and can get your hands on a copy of The Wilson Wolfe Affair, I think it’s a worthy challenge. If you’re unfamiliar or inexperienced with puzzle hunts, please don’t make The Wilson Wolfe Affair your maiden voyage. Attempt something a little more guided and with tighter, more definitive puzzles. (I discussed this in my Cryptex Hunt Primer.)

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle hunters
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Deep puzzling
  • Some nifty interactions

Story

A secret society was operating from within a 1930s Los Angeles animation studio whose most popular character was the cartoon cat Wilson Wolfe.

We had received a package of items from the studio and had to decode and decipher the secret organization’s communications.

Simulacra Games/ Jinks Studios box.

Setup

We cracked open a box and found a wide variety of meticulously designed paper puzzles.

The documents ranged from animation cells and movie advertisements to internal corporate memos and a newspaper, among many other things.

The printed materials varied greatly depending upon the item, but the print quality as well as the art direction was unquestionably strong.

An assortment of items including a journal from 1936 and a pamphlet titled "Modern Magick."

Gameplay

Simulacra Games’ The Wilson Wolfe Affair was a play-at-home puzzle hunt with a very high level of difficulty relative to escape rooms.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling, making connections, piecing together the story, and staying organized.

A newspaper, a map, a poker chip, an a patch with a South American-esque design.

Analysis

➕ The Wilson Wolfe Affair was loaded with challenging and largely entertaining puzzles, more than 35 of them.

➖ There were some puzzles that were too tedious, requiring pixel hunt-like detail fishing. There were also a few puzzles where the solutions were too loose for my taste.

➕ The writing and art were wonderful and consistent, especially considering how much content was in the box.

➕/➖ The online hint system was mostly sufficient and helped us get back on track when needed. The biggest struggles that we had were when we couldn’t tell exactly what puzzle we were working on, which happened from time to time because of the nature of the game structure.

➖ Opening The Wilson Wolfe Affair felt like drinking from a firehose. There were tons and tons of materials. It wasn’t entirely clear which items went together, or which puzzles we should start with or leave for the ending. The Wilson Wolfe Affair needed stronger on-boarding.

➖ There was a journal that included cluing. This thing was kind of strange. Sometimes it was the key to solving a puzzle; other times it offered nothing or worse, functioned as a red herring and led us wildly astray.

➕/➖ There was a clever system that conveyed how many letters in each puzzle’s answer. While this was clearly designed to lend a hand to the solvers, we didn’t figure out what it was until we were almost finished with the entire game. We thought it was a separate puzzle and not a clue. I’m not pointing fingers…. It’s possible that this was conveyed somewhere, but we never found it. This ties back to the need for stronger on-boarding in The Wilson Wolfe Affair.

➖ The net effect of the disconnects between on-boarding, the journal, and the puzzles themselves was that we solved them in a completely random sequence. In most puzzle hunts, this wouldn’t be a problem. The Wilson Wolfe Affair, however, attempted to convey a story. In the end, we could barely follow the story because it was more out of sequence than a Christopher Nolan film.

➕ The more tangible puzzles were among the most memorable and unique of the game.

❓ We played the less expensive and less expansive Silver Package. The larger versions of the game seem to have included many more tangible puzzles, and tangible puzzles were among my favorite parts of the game. On one hand, I’m really curious what they played like. On the other hand, when we finished up the Silver Package, I felt satisfied and didn’t really want more content.

Tips For Player

  • Space Requirements: a large table
  • Required Gear: paper and pencil or frixion pen, an internet connected device
  • Recommended Gear: a spreadsheet for keeping answers organized

Buy your copy of Simulacra Games’ The Wilson Wolfe Affair, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

To do so, you’ll have to check the second-hand market because it is no longer available from Simulacra Games. You can sign up on their website to learn more about their future projects.

A Puzzler’s Guide to Amazon Prime Day Deals

We scoured Amazon’s Prime Day deals (which are continuing today) for the kinds of things that we think escape room players might enjoy.

So here they are, in no particular order:

Exit: The Game – The Sunken Treasure

Sunken Treasure's box art features a sunken tall ship.

Most of the Exit series is on sale for Prime Day. The Sunken Treasure is one of my favorites (full review) that they offer. It also happens to be one of their easiest games, so it’s great for first-timers to the series.

Mysterium

Mysterium box art.

This is one of the most frequently played tabletop games in our collection. It’s collaborative, easy to learn, challenging to master, and incredibly replayable.

6 Key Puzzle Lock

A large and sturdy brass padlock beside 6 strange brass keys.

I love puzzle locks and this is a good one. We recommend it as a puzzle itself. Please do not put a puzzle lock in an escape room.

3D Crystal Panda Puzzle

A 3 dimensional panda bear holding bamboo.

I have a 3D Crystal Rubber Duck puzzle that I truly enjoy. It has some interesting mechanics. The panda variant is pretty adorable.

Dog Treat Puzzle Ball

2 balls containing dog food

Good doggos should get to puzzle too.

(Note: I love dogs, but I’m allergic to them. I have no idea if this is a good product, but I do like the concept.)

A beautiful shiba on a train platform at night.
This photo of Nick Moran’s dog Elinor was stolen and published without permission.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale. We appreciate the support.)

Looking Glass Adventures – Mystery at Maryweather Mansion [Review]

Study Egypt

Location:  Toronto, Ontario

Date Played: May 26, 2019

Team size: 2-12; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 CAD per adult, $20 per child (under 13)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was not designed for me and my group. Looking Glass Adventures’ target market was younger families, as demonstrated by the changing tables in their bathrooms.

Considering their goal of producing family-friendly adventures that adults can enjoy, I think that they are doing a lovely job.

In-game: A cartoonish purple and green door.

Did I see anything mindblowing? No. However, Mystery at Maryweather Mansion had solid puzzle and set design with a few creative interactions.

If you’re a family in Toronto looking to introduce your children to puzzle adventures, this is a fantastic choice. If you’re an adult looking for a solid escape room with a few interesting interactions, you can absolutely find fun within Mystery at Maryweather Mansion. We did.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Families
  • Newbies

Why play?

  • Cute, clever puzzles
  • Approachable gameplay

Story

Renowned archeologist/ adventurer Ms. Maryweather was off on another one of her journeys when she heard a rumor that a rival archeologist was planning to steal her most prized possession from her mansion.

She contacted us, her loyal pupils, to sneak into her home, bypass her security, identify her most prized artifact, and hide it before it could be stolen.

In-game: A purple walled study with a couch flanked by table lamps.

Setting

Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was built around the main character’s study. It looked like a traditional escape room with a few added elements that reminded us that the room was targeted at children.

While most of the game looked typical, the final act had the most interesting aesthetic (and gameplay) twist.

In-game: A wooden desk with locks on the drawers.

Gameplay

Looking Glass Adventures’ Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was a standard escape room with a family-friendly level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a coat rack with a pair of hats and a handbag hanging from it.

Analysis

➕ The in-character delivery of hints was delightful.

➕ The story behind Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was light but solid. Above all, it didn’t come with a ton of reading.

➕ There were a couple of creative puzzles. My favorites made clever use of Ms. Maryweather’s artifacts.

In-game: A large antique radio beside a couch.

➖ One of the puzzles that I truly enjoyed the mechanics of also felt like it was missing a bit of clue structure. The solution was alluded to, but even after having derived the correct answer for all of the right reasons, we weren’t confident at all until we saw that it worked.

➖ The lighting was too low, especially for the amount of searching required of us. We probably would have had an easier time in this game if we’d had a kid or two searching about.

➕/❓ While the set wasn’t fancy by any measure, Looking Glass Adventures selected an achievable locale and did a fine job. If your game selection is motivated specifically by set design, there won’t be anything that blows your mind.

➖ There were a few locks that had seen a few too many adventures and deserved to retire.

➕ Looking Glass Adventures provided an amusing bonus puzzle after the main game concluded. They do this for speedy teams. This was delivered in-character with the same charm as the hints.

Tips For Visiting

  • Looking Glass Adventures requires at least 2 adults present in the room with a group of children.

Book your hour with Looking Glass Adventures’ Mystery at Maryweather Mansion, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Looking Glass Adventures provided media discounted tickets for this game.