CU Adventures in Time & Space – The Wizard’s Curse [Review]

We’re off to see the wizard…

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player for 2 players, $30 per player for 3-4 players, $25 per player for 5-6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: stairs for at least 1 player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Wizard’s Curse was clever, compact, and thoroughly charming. The smallest of CU Adventures’ current offerings, it was best suited for smaller teams, but had no shortage of delightful interactions.

CU Adventures has a talent for putting original twists on common themes, both in their in-person and virtual/ tabletop games. In The Wizard’s Curse, we encountered a familiar story: we had to find a way to defeat the evil wizard who’d cast a spell over our kingdom. Even if this story was nothing new, the room’s polished puzzling, multi-level set, and fun characters made this a memorable experience.

A wizard's study with books and trinkets.

If you’re choosing amongst the rooms at CU Adventures, you can’t really go wrong. Especially for small teams, newer players, and magic lovers, I recommend playing The Wizard’s Curse.

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Solve It Sherlock – Legend of the Pines [Review]

β€œLet it be the devil!”

Location: Neptune, NJ

Date Played: April 9, 2022

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration:  This room is on the 2nd floor but they have same level access.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Based on local myth, the legend of the Jersey Devil, Legend of the Pines had us out in the woods investigating the Jersey Devil.

The first thing that stood out about Legend of the Pines was that Solve It Sherlock had built a compelling wooded set, which is generally hard to do.

A wooden shack labeled, "Ranger Station" in a wooden sign.

The second thing that really stood out about Legend of the Pines was how effectively Solve It Sherlock worked with the local myth. This game was unique and felt at home in New Jersey. Plus they closed the game and story out with a finale that they had clearly put a lot of love into.

Where can Legend of the Pines improve? I think a few of the puzzles and solutions could have tighter design. Nothing major, but there were a few nuances that could be improved.

Overall, Solve It Sherlock produced one of the few standout games in area. If you’re a traveling escape room player, this won’t blow your mind, but you’ll enjoy it. For locals, this is comfortably among your best options in the region.

Who is this for?

  • Players seeking a game with local flavor
  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A unique story, rooted in local myth
  • The wooded exterior set was great
  • A strong finale

Story

For more than 250 years, locals had spoken of the Jersey Devil, telling stories of it prowling the marshes of Southern New Jersey. Late at night, we’d happened upon an abandoned ranger station. As we explored, it became clear that the ranger had been studying the Devil. With the howls of a beast nearing us, we had to figure out what to do with the ranger’s notes.

A wood ranger station shack in the forest.
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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]

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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Trapology – The Institute [Review]

Free your mind

Location: Boston, MA

Date Played: April 17, 2022

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $45 per player for teams of 2 to $38 per person for teams of 5

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

A few of our friends had strongly recommended The Institute to us… and in the opening scenes, I was a feeling a bit dubious of their opinion. However, the deeper we pushed into The Institute, the more I got it. The Institute was clever, unique, and entertaining.

And I loved the final act.

A wall of security cameras with a yellow sign that reads, "SMILE! You're on camera"
Image via Trapology

It felt like there could be a stronger first act for this game, and I got the impression that the Trapology’s team was still looking for ways to improve the opening. Beyond that, it felt like there was a big opportunity to integrate the hint system into the story.

Trapology is one of the oldest escape room companies in the United States, and I love seeing how they continue to grow and improve; not all of our early companies do this. From my perspective, The Institute is Trapology’s strongest game to-date. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend playing The Institute.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Interesting narrative arc
  • Fun set-based interactions
  • A strong mid and late game

Story

After signing the wrong waiver, we found ourselves in a dubious research experiment conducted by the Trapology Research Institute.

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