Incredible! Escape Rooms – The Toy Maker [Review]

But where does he keep the cool toys?

Location:  Glendale, AZ

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39.99 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock [A]

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We played The Toy Maker when it was brand new… and if I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed that it was designed in 2014.

The game had absolutely no cohesion. With the exception of a handful of small, cheap toys, it barely did anything with its own theme.

One of those old toy bird things with liquid in them that swing like a pendulum.

From a gameplay standpoint, the puzzles were largely common and frequently purchasable. The biggest challenges came from searching.

While there was a slightly interesting twist on a puzzle in the late-game, overall, this experience felt like it was years out of date before it was even conceived.

I used to think that the worst thing that a player could feel after playing an escape room was a sense that they hated the game and didn’t want to play escape rooms anymore. The truth is that there is something far worse… and it’s when a player without relevant skills or a background in game, prop, set, amusement, or hardware design walks out of your gaming believing that they too can create escape rooms. If you felt that after playing this game, go visit The Nemesis Club or Paragon Escape Games for a reality check on the direction that this industry is moving in.

Who is this for?

  • Players who want to add another game to their escape game count

Why play?

  • To see where this industry used to be

Story

Our long lost toymaker uncle had passed away leaving his estate to us, if we could solve his mystery.

Wide view of a generic study-like escape room with a few bookshelves, a large seat, and exposed wires.
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Escape Rooms Should Embrace End Credits

A quick thought: over the past few years, we’ve seen a handful of generally excellent escape rooms present end credits at the conclusion of the experience.

Top of The Nest end credits card. "Written and Directed by Jeff Leinenveber & Jarrett Lantz" and a cast listing.

The first time I saw this, I’ll admit, it struck me as a little strange, but that was 100% because I wasn’t used to it. I’m completely convinced that this should be the norm. Allow me the opportunity to convince you.

A few examples that have stuck in my mind:

A Practical Way To End Immersion

From a creative standpoint, end-credits solve a problem that escape rooms frequently struggle with: signaling the conclusion of the experience.

All too often the actual ending of an escape room is a gamemaster walking in and asking, “did you have a good time?”

End credits are a clean way to make it clear to players that their time in the game world has come to an end.

Professionals Deserve Credit

Mid- to high-end escape rooms take an increasing number of minds and hands to create their magic. Crediting those individuals is a professional courtesy and a sign of respect.

  • Respecting your team will likely increase your retention of your team.
  • Showing your customers that you respect your team will likely increase their respect of the craft.

Crediting Demonstrates Profession Maturity

As we exit the early years of escape rooms, a lot of companies are looking to professionalize. Appropriately recognizing the individuals who contributed to the experience is part of growing up.

These games that we love rarely emerge from one mind and one set of hands. It’s high time that we honor everyone involved in the production.

1,000 Escape Rooms 🀯

This week, we hit 1,000 escape rooms… and it comes with a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. Before I dive into them, I’ll answer the question that many of you are wondering:

What game was your 1,000th?

The Depths from The Escape Game. They just opened up a new location near our home in New Jersey. It’s at the American Dream Mall in the Meadowlands. That mall is a bonkers place with a theme park, a water park, an indoor ski slope, and all sorts of other crazy things.

It has also been under construction for most of my life… I think construction began back in the mid 90s. It was weird finally setting foot inside.

Andrew, Madeleine, David, & Lisa posing after having competed The Depths.

How was your 1,000th game?

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Eludesions Escape Rooms – The Painter’s Collection [Review]

A grim gallery

Location:  Phoenix, AZ

Date Played: March 11, 2022

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32.95 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We left The Painter’s Collection feeling conflicted and confused.

On one hand, the set was quite pretty, making excellent use of beautiful art coupled with some interesting interactions. There was a unique aesthetic. Someone had clearly put a lot of effort into The Painter’s Collection.

Closeup of a black and white painting of a cursed old man.

On the other hand, the gameplay felt fragmented and many of the puzzles were irritatingly under-clued. The amount of times we triggered/ solved something and didn’t know why our approach worked or took a hint which left us wondering “how were we ever supposed to know how to do that?” was disappointing.

Maybe it was too many cooks in the kitchen or too few… I don’t know… but this meal was undercooked.

The good news for Eludesions Escape Rooms is that The Painter’s Collection was 95% of the way to greatness… and it shouldn’t take much to get it there. However, that missing 5% was clue structure and playability, and that’s critical. I hope that Eludesions does the work to make this game as great as it ought to be. It’s too cool to be left in its current state.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Witchcraft fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Great set and art direction
  • Clever interactions

Story

When a painter was falsely accused of witchcraft, the townspeople raided his home and learned the terrible truth that his daughter was actually a witch. She preserved her father in a painting to keep him close… and then began luring townspeople to her home to trap their souls in her art.

The young witch intended for us to become her next victims.

A glowing fireplace in an old-looking living room. Beside it is a large painting of an older man.
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Infinity Escape – The Magic Cottage: Sisters Curse [Review]

The Magic Cottage: Sister’s Curse is one of the best games in Anaheim, CA. Here are our other recommendations forΒ great escape rooms in the Anaheim area.

Crystals and wands and bubotuberpus, oh my

Location:  Fullerton, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $108 per team for teams of 2 players to $216 per team for teams of 6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: not recommended for anyone with arachnophobia

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Magic Cottage: Sisters Curse was beautiful (and just so cool!) with a gorgeous set and magical moments. Infinity Escape truly did some incredible things in this game.

Wide view of the magic cottage, the room is covered in herb bundles, and the far wooden wall has a massive carving of a dragon.

Throughout The Magic Cottage we found ourselves vacillating between love and frustration. We loved the set and the interactive props. However, we struggled against low lighting or limited space.

There is a ton to love in the beautiful, magical world in The Magic Cottage, and it is beloved by a lot of folks for good reasons. From my perspective, the greatness was evident throughout the game. All of its issues are fixable, and I hope that Infinity Escape takes a second look at them.

The Magic Cottage is a worthy game. If you’re in Southern California, it’s well worth checking out. The moments you’ll remember from this escape game are fantastic.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Magic & wizardry fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Beautiful set
  • Wonderful interactions
  • Solid puzzle content
  • Wands!

Story

Back in the 14th century, we were on a mission to break the magic on “the most haunted cottage in all of Britain.” Two sister witches had engaged in magical battle with one another and they had both lost, trapping themselves within their cottage.

We had to break the curses and determine which witch to assist.

Closeup of a few jars of magical components, including Bubotuber Pus and Gilly Weed.
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