North Shore Escape – The Cursed Caravan [Review]

The Cursed Caravan

This escape room is in tents.

Location:  Woburn, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 15, 2018

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

North Shore Escape balanced mystical cheesiness with a gritty homemade mystique. The Cursed Caravan came together into far more than the sum of its parts.

The Cursed Caravan was designed as a popup game… that never popped down. While this was evident in its construction, the silly vibe, unusual story, solid puzzles, and fantastic flow made it work.

We really enjoyed this escape room. If you’re looking to experience the stranger, more creative side of the escape room world, and can appreciate that good game design doesn’t require a large budget or fancy props… visit The Cursed Caravan.

In-game: view through the tent entrance.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  •  A fortune teller’s tent is a fun gamespace
  • Solid puzzles

Story

A strange fortune teller had set up shop and squatted in an escape room business venue. The owner had asked us to investigate her tent and see if we could dig up some dirt that he could use to evict her.

In-game: The poster for "The Cursed Caravan at North Shore Escape."

Setting

We entered a tent just off of North Shore Escape’s lobby. The space was essentially a tent made of bedding. By some force of will and smart theme selection, it worked remarkably well.

The Cursed Caravan had been originally designed as a temporary game, but it had stayed on.

In-game: two seats on either side of a table with a crystal ball.

Gameplay

North Shore Escape’s The Cursed Caravan was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: bookshelf with two locked boxes.

Analysis

➕ The story was interesting. There was a lot to follow, but it paid off.

The Cursed Caravan was well themed as a fortune teller’s tent. The eclectic mix of wall hangings and tchotchkes felt at home in the environment. It was an inspired thematic choice for a low-budget escape room.

➖ Although the tent looked appropriately fortune teller-esque, it also looked less than stable. We worried about accidentally breaking the set, props, or tech. The construction lacked refinement.

➕ The game flowed well. It was a small space, but we were able to move freely around it, rather than linearly through it, which made it feel bigger than it was.

In-game: Tent entrance.

➕ North Shore Escape balanced searching and puzzling to prevent late-game hangups. The puzzle flow was laid out such that we’d find puzzle elements before we needed them. Thus the puzzle solves moved more quickly. It was elegant design.

➕/➖ The tech looked clunky. This kind of worked. We could interpret it as weird fortune teller magic. At the same time, it felt like messy craftsmanship.

➖ Tech opens needed to pop. Especially when we’re being careful with a delicate set (and at one point we even encountered a “do not pull” sign), it would go a long way if “magical” opens were always evident.

➕ The story was available in readings and played as audio recordings. We appreciated that each player could take it in the way that worked for them.

Tips For Visiting

Book your hour with North Shore Escape’s The Cursed Caravan, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: North Shore Escape comped our tickets for this game.

North Shore Escape – Mystery at the Art Gallery [Review]

An art gallery with original pieces.

Location: Woburn, MA

Date played: December 10, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

Story & setting

After the disappearance of the art dealer, we entered his gallery to determine what secrets might be hidden within.

The walls of Mystery at the Art Gallery were decorated largely with original artwork created by the game designer. While there were many pieces to take in, the large uncluttered space remained true to the gallery aesthetic.

In-game: a pair of gargoyles, a wall of paintings in the back.

Puzzles

Mystery at the Art Gallery included puzzles that solved quickly and those that unfolded over the course of the experience. While some puzzle threads moved forward, there was always something else to unravel that would be important later on.

The puzzles were varied, entertaining, and of mixed difficulty.

Standouts

The artwork in this game, truly part of the experience, set the tone and feel of the game. The deliberate choices – whether original creations or purchased pieces – made this gallery that much more interesting to explore. This wasn’t another art gallery game with a print of the Mona Lisa next to a dozen others from European art history’s greatest hits.

North Shore Escape created a particular ambiance for this room escape. As the mystery unfolded, they dialed up the intensity without abandoning the original feel of the game. Everything felt like it was part of a larger whole.

Shortcomings

As an individual player, it was possible to puzzle out of Mystery at the Art Gallery while ignoring much of the mystery. While some of the interactions furthered the story, others were simply puzzles in a gallery setting. With smaller or more cohesive teams, it’s likely that everyone will participate in the story experience. However, in our larger group, different players came away with more or less of an understanding of the overarching narrative.

While the art set the tone for the game, the quality of set design was a little more shaky. It did, however, improve over the course of the game.

Most of the puzzling was well thought out, but one in particular jumped out as halfheartedly implemented.

Should I play North Shore Escape’s Mystery at the Art Gallery?

Mystery at the Art Gallery would be a solid introductory game with just a little added flair. The puzzles were standard in style, but also varied and approachable. The art, ambiance, and mystery give the space some intrigue.

Experienced teams will find a fun, yet standard game that is worth the price of admission. We recommend that you bring fewer people, slow down, and cooperate, so as not to skip over the story as it unfolds.

Book your hour with North Shore Escape’s Mystery at the Art Gallery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: North Shore Escape comped our tickets for this game.