Escaparium – Bernie Block [Review]

Lego Land

Location:  Laval, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 2, 2020

Team size: 3-6; we recommend 2 – a small family

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 29.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Bernie Block is the Lego escape room that I didn’t know I needed in my life.

While it never explicitly mentions Lego in any way, the look and feel was all Lego… and it was a delight.

In-game: A lego kitchen
Image via Natacha D Photographie

Escaparium clearly designed Bernie Block for children, but our team of adults still adored it. Sure, it was easier, but that didn’t diminish the joy of the experience.

I would have loved to see a little more drama at the end to match the detail that was poured into the world, but overall, Bernie Block is a must-play for families who are anywhere near Montreal. If you’re an adult player who doesn’t have kids, there’s a lot to love about Bernie Block if you’re willing to embrace the playfulness of this game. I am quite happy that I did.

Who is this for?

  • Families
  • Lego fanatics
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The cuteness levels are dangerously high
  • It feels like stepping inside of a giant Lego construction
  • Bernie Block is funny in a family-friendly way

Story

Bernie Block desperately needed our help… to convince his crush to go on a date with him.

In-game: A lego chair in front of a TV in a lego house.
Image via Natacha D Photographie

Setting

Everything was built from blocks. Everything. The walls, the ceiling, the floor, the furniture – all of it. Bernie Block looked like we had stepped into something made by an 8-year-old in the best way possible.

As an adult, it felt like wonderful nostalgia… and I have to imagine that as a kid, Bernie Block would feel simply awesome.

In-game: A clock built from giant legos.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s Bernie Block was a family-friendly escape room with a lower level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A lego bathroom.
Image via Natacha D Photographie

Analysis

➕ Delightful. This describes Bernie Block to a T. It describes the set, story, music, and so many of the in-game interactions.

➕ The block-based set and prop design created a unique aesthetic. It was bright and friendly. Escaparium minded the details, adding lego-y echos in their choice of set decor and props. The story came to life because we really felt a part of this little world.

➕ We met the characters in Bernie Block through amusing videos with stellar voice acting. They added humor and purpose to the gameplay.

➖ Although counting puzzles belong in a family-friendly escape game, the cluing felt messy, which made this sequence more chaotic than it needed to be.

➖ In one case, the trigger tolerances were a bit too tight. We had solved something and it didn’t quite register until we shifted things.

Bernie Block was especially charming because of its scale. The space felt small, but the interactions felt big. Escaparium replicated Lego interactions in their puzzle design, and delivered them at human size.

➖ We loved many of the set pieces in the second act – so much so that we wanted them to be a larger part of the experience. This felt like a missed opportunity.

➖ There was opportunity to do something more energetic with the finale.

➕ The Lego theme had broad appeal. Kids will feel at home in this game. Our group of adults felt nostalgic and no less joyful.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Note that Escaparium has multiple venues around Montreal. Bernie Block is in Laval at the Boul. Rossignols location.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Escaparium’s Bernie Block, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen [Review]

I’m on a ship!

Location:  Laval, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 2, 2020

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: 37.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen was an ambitious game.

Escaparium built a massive nautical escape with a beautiful, sprawling set, and strong interaction design.

In-game: A view through a long, old, wood ship. A treasure chest sits on the floor.

From a puzzle and gameplay standpoint, there was a lot to love in The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen, especially in the second and third acts. The opening had great ideas, but some rocky execution muddied the waters.

If you are plugged into the broader escape room world, then you’re likely wondering how it compares to 13th Gate’s famed Cutthroat Cavern. Comparing things to a beloved game like Cutthroat Cavern is pretty dangerous when it comes to expectation setting. It’s been so long since I personally played at Cutthroat Cavern that I don’t know that I can truly make a fair comparison. The passage of time does funny things to memory, accentuating the things that you love and hate about a game, while the middle kind of evaporates. But what I’ll say is this:

If you love big budget, blockbuster escape rooms, then The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen should be on your list. I can’t tell you whether you should like it more or less than any other game. I can say that Escaparium crammed a lot of love, technology, and detailing into this ambitious game… and it’s absolutely worth going out of your way to play it.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • It’s massive, gorgeous, and so impressive
  • Surprising and delightful moments

Story

The Admiral had ordered us to find the Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen. Once we found it, we needed to do whatever it took to learn the secrets that the Voodoo Queen had to offer.

In-game: A desk with a lantern, compass, and skull resting on it.

Setting

The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen was gorgeous. We boarded a ship to begin our adventure. When I say, “we boarded a ship,” I don’t mean that “it looked like the interior of a ship,” I mean it was basically a ship. I saw the exterior. It was kind of crazy… and that was just the first act.

Escaparium built an ambitious, sprawling world for The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen, and it was loaded with wonderful set-driven moments.

In-game: Shelves inside of a ship containing lanterns and pots.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A caged area inside of an old ship.

Analysis

➕ The set of The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen was breathtaking. It was gigantic and detailed. It induced a child-like urge to explore and discover. From the opening moments through multiple set changes, it delivered on adventure.

➖ With an enormous and inviting gamespace, but linear gameplay, Escaparium needed stronger cluing in the opening moments to route our attention toward the gameplay. We struggled to pick up momentum early on because almost every other aspect of our new environment was more captivating than the opening puzzle sequence.

➕ The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen included a variety of tactile puzzles. In the second and third act, these were especially well integrated into the set and props, which made them that much more engaging and satisfying to solve.

➖ A few of the puzzles needed stronger feedback. In one instance, we believed that we had completed two puzzles simultaneously and when the game reacted, we couldn’t tell which puzzle was correctly completed and which one needed another look.

➖ There was opportunity to more thoroughly connect the solves with the story. While the puzzles felt thematically connected, they didn’t feel integrated into the narrative.

➕/➖ We adored one layered sequence that required coordinated teamwork in the face of adverse conditions. It was challenging, but exciting. It was also needlessly frustrating because of a lack of feedback and some ambiguous cluing. With a few adjustments, this would be a smoother ride, and likely become the most memorable solve of the game.

In-game: A book with an embossed face.

➖ In this detailed world, any breakage easily becomes a red herring. It wasn’t always clear when an object moved freely whether we were meant to interact with it, or whether it had become detached.

➕ Escaparium used practical effects to enhance the staging and the story.

➕ Each scene change was dramatic, right up through the finale, which felt like a worthy culmination of our efforts. From start to finish, The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen was quite the ride.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Note that Escaparium has multiple venues around Montreal. The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen is in Laval at the Boul. Rossignols location.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • There is some motion in this game. At any point a player may request for this motion to stop.

Book your hour with Escaparium’s The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – The Blind Tiger [Review]

Puzzles on tap

Location:  Laval, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: April 6, 2019

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Blind Tiger was the most traditional escape room that we played at Escaparium. It looked good, played cleanly, included great swing music, and had at least one memorable moment.

In-game: An array of provocative pinup girls.

From our perspective, a hallmark of Escaparium’s game design is their willingness to take risks in their gameplay and sets… to make things that we haven’t seen anywhere else. Sometimes this delivers a big payoff and sometimes it’s a little bumpy, but it’s always interesting.

The Blind Tiger doesn’t have that risky intrigue that we saw in the other 5 Escaparium games that we played on our recent trip to Montreal. There’s nothing wrong with that (especially from a company with so many games); it might even be a good thing for them.

We absolutely recommend The Blind Tiger if you’re in Montreal and looking for a solid speakeasy experience that plays really well. If you’re looking for something out of the box, however, Escaparium has plenty of other games that might not play as smoothly, but offer something unique.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Great music
  • Strong speakeasy touches
  • Some good puzzling

Story

The Blind Tiger was the most popular speakeasy in Chicago. Our boss, the leader of a rival crime family, had sent us to sneak into the Blind Tiger to steal its owner’s ledger. There would be something juicy contained within it.

In-game: A roulette table.

Setting

The Blind Tiger was a speakeasy. It looked like a compelling underground drinking and gambling establishment.

While it wasn’t the fanciest set, little details made it feel real. These included liquor labels, pinup art, and cigarette displays.

In-game: A sales display for LUCKY Cigarettes on an old wooden bar.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s The Blind Tiger was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A view behind the bar at a wall of liquor.

Analysis

The Blind Tiger had a lively soundtrack of swing music and a beautiful, polished set. We enjoyed the vibe of the gamespace.

➖ Although the gamespace was spacious, one area lacked adequate room to maneuver. It was easy to scrape oneself on doors, once opened, and hard to work together in this area.

➖ We encountered a ghost puzzle within the set decor.

➕ The voice-overs were clear and well acted. They added character to the game.

➕ The puzzles were thematic and largely tangible. They flowed well.

➕/➖ One substantial puzzle was well integrated into the gamespace. The cluing was varied and included physical props, which made this puzzle more engaging than this style tends to be. That said, it was a long process puzzle for a timed escape game.

In-game: closeup of some liquor bottles. one reads, "Red's Pure Old Panther Piss."

➕/ ➖ We enjoyed assembling… what would then become another puzzle. It was a nifty prop, but a bit too finicky. It also needed a touch more cluing.

➖ Although the puzzles worked well, they generally weren’t novel or exceptionally memorable.

➕ A thematic meta puzzle helped us gauge our progress instead of having to rely on a gameclock.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Escaparium’s The Blind Tiger, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat [Review]

Down the rabbit hole.

Location:  Montreal, Canada

Date Played: April 7, 2019

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Entering Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat felt like entering a cartoon. The world was vibrant and largely constructed from foam, giving it a chunky, playful feel.

In-game: The Cheshire Cat hanging out in a tree.

Escaparium’s imagining of Alice in Wonderland was at its best when it had us playing with this otherworldly environment and interacting with its unusual props. The more tangible and funky the interactions were, the more fantastical the experience became.

That said, this escape room started off too slowly. Some of the more cerebral puzzles felt rough or logic leap-y, which juxtaposed harshly against the playful setup and set.

In the end, we walked away from Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat loving it for its quirky design and forgiving a lot of its frustrations because of its novelty. If you’re the kind of player who’s seeking new things, and you find yourself near Montreal, check it out. It might drive you a little mad, but it’s worth it.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • To go down the rabbit hole
  • The Wonderland aesthetic

Story

Every once in a while we have to pull the story directly from the escape room company’s website. This is one of those times:

“The Hatter’s hat’s hat is needed so that the hat of the hatter can control the hatter when wearing his hat but the hat of the hatter’s hat is where the power of the hatter’s hat is at. Without his hat, the hatter’s hat is powerless and the hatter with or without his hat will be himself if the hatter’s hat’s hat is taken away. You are needed to help Alice find the hatter’s hat’s hat so that the hatter can be himself again…”

In-game: The Cheshire Cat hanging in a big tree branch over a pool of water.

Setting

Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat felt like a cartoon world. It was bright and vibrant with a slightly grim twist… it felt like Alice in Wonderland. It was overflowing with both subtle and overt references to Lewis Carroll’s timeless stories.

In-game: A pool of water in the woods.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: Brightly colored flowers and mushrooms.

Analysis

➕ Escaparium’s ode to Wonderland looked wonderful. It was fantastical, life-sized, and cartoonishly detailed. From ceiling to floor, no detail was overlooked.

➕ Some of the set details that made Wonderland so intriguing also rolled into the puzzle play. This was Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat at its best.

➖ Some aspects of the set and props were showing too much wear.

In-game: The White Rabbit in the woods.

➖ Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat got off to a slow start. Some of the puzzles lacked concise cluing. In one instance we had to wait repeatedly for the a clue to loop on a timer.

➕ There were a number of fantastically physical moments.

➖ A few of the later puzzles asked us to make some logic leaps. The cluing felt incomplete.

➕ We loved the manner in which we transitioned between 2 scenes.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • You will remove your shoes before entering the game.
  • You will need to climb down (or step outside the game to walk down stairs) to play this game.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • If you book both Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat and The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa, book “Alice” first and “Wizard” second.

Book your hour with Escaparium’s Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – Tyranno Industries [Review]

🦖🦕

Location:  Montreal, Canada

Date Played: April 7, 2019

Team size: 4-12; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Dinosaurs make me happy. They captured my imagination as a child. To this day I love that these incredible beasts actually existed on our planet. I can’t seriously think about dinosaurs without smiling… and if you can, I suspect that you’re dead inside.

In-game: a triceratops next to a white and blue medical scanning device.

So… that’s to say that I really enjoyed Tyranno Industries. It wasn’t a perfect game. A dinosaur park escape game was a massive undertaking and Escaparium put forth a strong effort. There were animatronics and some badass moments. It all flowed pretty well when the wear and tear or some of the less developed puzzles weren’t getting in the way.

There were some areas in which Escaparium could significantly improve this game with minimal effort.

All that said, Tyranno Industries was a delight to play. My inner 8-year-old is thankful to Escaparium for the experience.

If the idea of a dinosaur adventure brings a smile to your face and you’re near Montreal, just buy yourself a ticket. I’m glad that I went.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Dinosaur fans
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Dinosaurs!
  • Surprising moments

Story

Our team of mercenaries had been hired to break into the dinosaur cloning lab of Tyranno Industries in the Philippines and extract 3 different embryos.

In-game: The Tryanno Industries logo on a concrete building in a tropical setting.

Setting

Tyranno Industries strongly evoked Jurassic Park. The set had a tropical Dinosaur-zoo-meets-laboratory vibe, complete with dinosaur animatronics.

Basically, this was the set that 8-year-old me would have wanted to live in.

It didn’t look “real” but it looked really good.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s Tyranno Industries was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕Escaparium built multiple diverse but connected environments into a relatively small footprint.

➕ Anything life-sized for a dinosaur couldn’t possibly be shitty.

➖ Tyranno Industries was well worn. We encountered three different puzzles that suffered due to damage or wear.

➖ Some of the cluing was a shade or two off.

➕ The lab work section had solid puzzles that flowed well. Even Lisa agreed, and she’s rarely happy to play in a lab setting.

➕ This was a family-friendly dinosaur adventure. It had exciting and intense moments, but it wasn’t scary. Escaparium made dinosaurs about as approachable as possible.

❓ Many of the early puzzles were mounted pretty high up. We imagine that children will struggle to participate fully with some of these puzzles.

➖ At the height of Tyranno Industries’ intensity, it ground to a halt over a puzzle that hinged on a poor user interface on a small device. There was nothing else to solve at this juncture and no way for everyone to fully engage.

Tyranno Industries had a few surprises hiding in the wings. It delivered memorable moments for the entire group to experience together.

➕/➖ The animatronic dinosaur was really neat, but we spent entirely too much time near it. Animatronics are at their best when your exposure to them is limited and you can’t get used to their presence or patterns.

➕ Somehow Escaparium found the self-restraint to avoid the most obvious and inexpensive Jurassic Park puzzle reference… and for that, I salute them.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • You will remove your shoes before entering the game.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Escaparium’s Tyranno Industries, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – The Golden Jubilee [Review]

Heigh-ho Heigh-ho

Location:  Laval, Canada

Date Played: April 6, 2019

Team size: 3-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Golden Jubilee was a diamond in the rough. Escaparium split this game into two distinct acts: light and dark.

The light side was set in a gorgeous gem mine that would have felt at home at a Disney park. The dark side was in total darkness and required us to puzzle with senses other than sight.

In-game: A collection of gems glowing in the dark.

Escaparium nailed so much in this game, spare a few entirely fixable details that really cramped the experience. The most noteworthy flaw was an early puzzle that just didn’t seem to work cleanly. This diminished our trust in the game, but that mistrust was unfounded.

As we played it, The Golden Jubilee was a beautiful light/ dark hybrid escape game in the spirit of Escape My Room’s Smuggler’s Den. It got a lot right and offered up a ton of novelty. With a few tweaks to the existing gameplay, this could be a masterpiece.

If you’re in Montreal and you’re comfortable with a puzzle experience in total darkness, The Golden Jubilee is a must play.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Puzzlers… who can solve with senses other than sight
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The gorgeous opening gamespace
  • The challenge of a pitch black puzzle room

Story

Dr. Woo had passed away leaving his precious Golden Jubilee gem hidden within his mine. Treasure hunters from all over the world had converged in hopes of finding the gem.

Woo had been known to enjoy games and had surely left some challenges to trip up any would-be treasure hunters.

In-game: A gem mine with mining carts, and gems protruding from the walls and ceiling.

Setting

Escaparium went above and beyond with the set design of The Golden Jubilee’s first act. It basically looked like it belonged in a Disney park as part of a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs attraction. We were in a beautiful gem mine.

In-game: A bucket hanging from a rope in a mine. There is a wooden sign labeled "DANGER" hanging from the wall.

The second act took place in pure darkness. The set was visually irrelevant; everything revolved around our other senses.

In-game: A completely black image with nothing visible.
Actual game photo.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s The Golden Jubilee was an unusual escape room with a high level of difficulty.

The first act played like a standard escape game. The second act took place in complete darkness where we solved puzzles uses senses other than sight.

Core gameplay revolved around exploring, observing with different senses, making connections, communicating, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ Escaparium’s mine was strikingly beautiful. It was cavernous, detailed, and decorated with colorful gems. It was a delightful aesthetic. We really enjoyed this gamespace.

➕ Escaparium really hit the nail on the head with one early puzzle.

In-game: A joust holding up the walls of a gem mine.

➖ Another early puzzle lacked both gating and cluing. The puzzle did not work. This lowered our trust in the game. After hacking our way through it with hints that only sort of made sense, our gamemaster was unable to explain how this should have worked.

➕ /➖ Escaparium set up a fantastic early puzzle with a large prop. Unfortunately, this puzzle asked for a large logic leap and slowed our wheels.

➕ Escaparium justified the dark room with the mine staging and story. The transition made sense.

➖ There was a bit of light bleed into the dark room.

➕/ ➖ Some puzzles in the dark room made more sense contextually than others. We appreciated how some of the puzzles were thematically connected. Others felt oddly random.

➕ The puzzles in the dark room worked well without sight. They also forced us to work together in the darkness. The Golden Jubilee flowed well in this section.

➖ We struggled with the audio in the dark room. Because we couldn’t see, our other senses were heightened. The soundtrack was distracting, especially when working on certain puzzles. The lengthy audio indicators of puzzle solves were confusing at first, and later simply distracting. The audio story elements didn’t land.

➖ The conclusion lacked excitement. It was too easy to intuit early on exactly how the game would conclude. As we all made our way to the bright part of the mine to claim our prize, its reveal didn’t feel momentous or particularly triumphal.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Part of this game is played in total darkness.
  • You need to be able to crawl to play this game.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Escaparium’s The Golden Jubilee, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa [Review]

Powerglove!

Location:  Montreal, Canada

Date Played: April 7, 2019

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 3-5 (best with 4)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $34.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escaparium has an armada of interesting, unusual, and entertaining games. The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa was their flagship.

The second in their series of The Wizard Four games, The Rise of Lord Thulsa was a magical adventure complete with special powers and boss fights. The set was gorgeous and the effects elevated the experience.

In-game: Bottles of magical ingredients.

There were a few opportunities to repair some wear and refine the gameplay or effects, but all around, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

This is a must-play game if you’re anywhere near Montreal. I’d highly recommend playing its predecessor The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts first… but if you only have time for one, then go straight for the sequel.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Wizards
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Wizarding abilities
  • Fantastic, magical interactions
  • Strong puzzles
  • Wizard battles

Story

It had been three years since we had graduated from magic school and had saved the high wizard from Lord Thusla. Now the evil sorcerer had returned and we had to thwart him once again.

In-game: A series of tubes and lab equipment mounted to the wall.

Setting

Escaparium’s The Wizard Four sequel, The Rise of Lord Thulsa, had a set that fit with the first installment, while feeling distinctive as it took us to different iconic wizarding locations.

It looked as good, if not better, than the original, and packed in some heavier magical effects.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa was a standard escape room with additional individual powers and a moderate level of difficulty.

Each player wore a glove that activated their special power, which would be necessary to solve certain puzzles.

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

In-game: Magical gloves, each with the symbol of a different elemental magic on it.

Analysis

The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa looked great. It looked mythical, detailed, and polished. It was an exciting environment for our wizard selves to explore.

➕ The powers added an interesting mechanic to escape room gameplay. We could choose how to use them: whether to split up and solve puzzles individually or help each other use the different powers. It was fun to be the wizard controlling a unique ability. This had the added benefit of keeping everyone engaged.

➖ The gloves that activated our powers were a bit finicky. Some of the sensors were especially touchy. The gloves were also pretty worn and some wouldn’t fasten.

➕ One puzzle blossomed into something far more interesting than it had originally appeared.

➕ Another puzzle nailed its target well.

➖ One puzzle seemed to be barely a puzzle. Perhaps it was a ghost puzzle? This was not a satisfying solve and was particularly disappointing when other powers revealed such interesting dynamics.

➕ Escaparium surprised us with an unorthodox transition.

➖ We encountered a tedious search puzzle which, despite the layered approach, was still a time drain.

The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa included a number of other solid, layered puzzles that we really enjoyed.

➖ At times the gameflow felt uneven. Some puzzles triggered far more forward momentum than others.

➕ There was a late-game sequence that played remarkably well. At first it seemed like it might have been too complicated. Then we thought it might be too simplistic. In the end, it felt like it checked all of the boxes just right.

➕/ ➖ In the end, we found ourselves in a wizard battle. The culmination of our powers worked really well. That said, Escaparium was hampered by the limits of their tech. As cool as it was, sometimes the fight dragged. With a few changes to lighting and sound, Escaparium could create a more dramatic series of interactions that would be more emotionally engaging.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • You need to be comfortable with stairs to play this game..
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • If you book both Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Mad Hat’s Hat and The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa, book “Alice” first and “Wizard” second.

Book your hour with Escaparium’s The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa , and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Escaparium – The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts [Review]

Barry Hotter: The Fellowship of the Wands

Location:  Montreal, Canada

Date Played: April 7, 2019

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $34.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts was the first in a two-game (maybe more in the future) wizarding series created by Escaparium. We grabbed our wands and set off on a quest to stop evil… and it was delightful.

Escaparium told their own story with the help of many common tropes and a dollop of instantly recognizable pop culture references, giving us players the kind of Harry Potter/ Tolkien-esque adventure that so many of us crave.

In-game: A statue of a wizard holding a crystal ball carved into a stone wall.

The sets were gorgeous. The magic was fun. The effects and puzzles were generally strong.

Some of it was a bit bumpy. It was clear to us that Escaparium was exploring structures for escape room storytelling that became a bit onerous. The wands, while fun, were a bit finicky.

Nevertheless, we were thrilled to have played The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts and even happier after playing its sequel, The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa. If you’re near Montreal, we highly recommend playing both, in order.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Aspiring wizards
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • The set was beautiful
  • There was an amazing scene transition; it was incredible how much went into it
  • Some great effects
  • A number of strong puzzles
  • Wands are fun

Story

We were fresh out of magic school and we had been summoned to meet with the high wizard. By the time we’d arrived in his hall, however, he and his family were gone, abducted by an evil sorcerer. It was up to us to save them.

In-game: Animated paintings hanging from a stone wall.

Setting

In The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts, Escaparium let us loose in a wizarding school and it looked the part.

We explored a great hall as well as the dormitories. Each had depth, texture, and quite a bit to take in. There were points where I basically stopped playing and just enjoyed the environment.

In-game: a shelf full of scrolls.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts was a standard escape room where players had wands to use as tools. It had a moderate level of difficulty

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

In-game: 8 magic wands hanging from the top of a doorway.

Analysis

➕ We entered The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts with wands in hand. This added an interesting game mechanic. But also… wands!

➖ As nifty as the wands were, their triggers could be finicky, which was frustrating. Still, we liked the wand mechanic and were disappointed when they fell out of relevance in the late-game. This felt like a missed opportunity.

➕ The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts was loaded with nods to various wizarding worlds. Fans will enjoy the magical artifacts and references in this escape room.

The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts captured the aesthetics of a number of iconic wizarding locales. Each scene looked outstanding. While Escaparium’s sets were always detailed, they went the extra mile here, crafting a scene purely so that we could enjoy our perspective.

➖ Some of the props in The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts had seen better days.

➖ Play stopped occasionally for long audio interludes punctuated with effects. We didn’t find that these added enough depth to the story to warrant the length of the gameplay stoppage.

➕ The middle act had solid puzzles that necessitated a variety of skills sets and magical ability. These flowed well.

➖ We encountered a few puzzles with ambiguous cluing.

➕ Magical artifacts surprised and delighted us as we played. These weren’t by the book.

➖ In a magical escape room, anything was possible. Anything might open from any action. Escaparium needed to better direct players to triggered opens. We couldn’t always tell what we’d affected.

➖The culminating scene felt less triumphant than it should have. The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts lacked its own Mount Doom. (Again, this wasn’t something that this game’s sequel suffered from.)

The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts was a delightful space to play in for an hour.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • You need to be comfortable with stairs to play this game.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Escaparium’s The Wizard Four and the Book of Black Arts, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.