The Puzzle Effect – Grim Stacks [Review]

Aberto!

Location:  Northglenn, CO

Date Played: September 8, 2019

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Grim Stacks was the kind of Harry Potter-inspired game that we wanted to explore. It stood on its own, but its allusions made fans feel at home.

The bookstore setting was really smart because the Puzzle Effect was able to completely sell it as a real environment.

In-game:

From a gameplay standpoint, this was a solid, well-themed game. We enjoyed it quite a bit.

We would have loved to see a little more drama from the finale. It was a super crafty conclusion that was a sub-woofer away from greatness.

If you’re in Denver and a fan of J.K. Rowling-esque magical fantasy, go visit Grim Stacks.

Who is this for?

  • Harry Potter fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level (but it will be hard for true newbies)

Why play?

  • An adorable setting
  • Challenging puzzles
  • A clever ending

Story

The nefarious owner of a magic book shop had captured a powerful creature and locked it away. The magical beast needed rescuing before it was forced to do evil deeds.

In-game:

Setting

Grim Stacks was a charming twist on the Harry Potter-esque escape game. Instead of placing us within a wizarding school, we found ourselves in a magical book shop. That was smart because it was easy to sell us on this world.

The first act of this experience looked great. The second act was a bit of a step down. It absolutely worked, but it didn’t quite feel as thoroughly designed.

In-game:

Gameplay

The Puzzle Effect’s Grim Stacks was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game:

Analysis

➕ Grim Stacks looked great. It was magical, in an adorable, nerdy way. It was a bookshop, after all. It was an approachable and inviting space to puzzle in.

➕ The game flowed well.

➖ Some of the cluing was presented on laminated papers. There was an opportunity to better integrate these components into the game world.

➕ The puzzles had depth. They were layered solves. We appreciated puzzles that we could really sink our teeth into.

➕/ ➖ The ending was clever. It provided a conclusion that made sense in the game world, while leaving the heavy lifting to the players’ imaginations. That said, there was opportunity to go bigger, adding bolder visual cues and auditory effects, without changing the concept or blowing out the budget.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • The Puzzle Effect offers this game in other cities as well including Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Phoenix, and Boise. The opening scene is slightly different in these locations, but the gameplay is the same.

Book your hour with The Puzzle Effect’s Grim Stacks, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Puzzle Effect comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.