Sauve Qui Peut – Denderah’s Secret [Review]

Riddle of Anubis

Location:  Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 3, 2020

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 30 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

I feel so weird about Denderah’s Secret. We found enjoyment in this escape room even though it rarely passed an opportunity to do stuff that we routinely say “shouldn’t be done that way in escape rooms.”

Before we go further, I need to clarify that this was one of Sauve Qui Peut’s earliest games. As far as early games go, it was great. And this company has come a long way since designing this escape game. With that in mind…

In-game: the entrance to an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

The set is impressive, especially given how long it’s been in operation. Had we seen it when it was new, it would have blown us away. However, a pair of small areas were essentially undesigned and there was a lot of wear.

The puzzles all worked, but two interactions went against our safety recommendations… and you had better have someone who can Sudoku because, oh my, do you need to Sudoku. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s a fact.

We were laughing the whole way through Denderah’s Secret because it felt like the embodiment of what we regularly get on stage and tell people not to do. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t hate it. Denderah’s Secret was fun because Sauve Qui Peut knows how to keep things interesting. That said, there was a lot of opportunity for this to become a much better game.

Sauve Qui Peut has so many amazing games. Denderah’s Secret doesn’t have to make your playlist. It is still kind of interesting, and by playing it, we better understood how Sauve Qui Peut has evolved. While my brain is telling me not to recommend it, my heart still had a good time.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Tomb raiders
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A charming Egyptian set
  • Solid, basic escape room gameplay

Story

Our parents were renowned Egyptologists and we had grown up listening to their stories. As we grew up, we followed in their footsteps and set off to Egypt to unravel the mysteries of the ancient structures that have long captivated the world.

One of our parent’s stories, “Denderah’s Secret,” had always captured our imaginations, and that became the focal point of our work.

In-game: The base of an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Setting

Denderah’s Secret was a big Egyptian sandbox of a set. As usual, Sauve Qui Peut’s gorgeous wall murals added depth and setting that murals almost never accomplish.

In-game: a beautiful mural of Egyptian pyramids in the moonlight.

As we explored the tomb, almost all of it looked and felt appropriately Egyptian.

That said, there were a few small portions of the game that were essentially undesigned.

Gameplay

Sauve Qui Peut’s Denderah’s Secret was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A wooden toolbox sitting in the sand beside the base of an ancient pyramid.

Analysis

➕ The ancient Egyptian sets of Denderah’s Secret looked magnificent, even with some significant wear. Sauve Qui Peut transformed its rooms with expansive murals and the scale of the props and set pieces.

➕ The painting throughout Denderah’s Secret was fantastic. The wall murals were gorgeous.

➖ Two late-game sections were under-designed, especially given what had come before it.

➕/➖ There were a lot of glyphs in Denderah’s Secret. They were different enough that we could distinguish them. That said, with the escape game’s age, some had started to lose their definition and could have used a touch up.

➖ Denderah’s Secret‘s gameplay was dated. It included a long process puzzle that jammed gameplay, multiple trick locks, and the standard pitfalls of the one classic Egyptian trope. It also asked us to interact with the set in a way that seemed… unwise.

➖ We were disappointed to rely on laminated paper cluing within this gorgeous set.

➕ Although the reveals weren’t surprising, they looked great, which added excitement.

➖ While we appreciated Sauve Qui Peut’s early foray into allowing players to affect the game by making a choice, it wasn’t refined. It was easy to unknowingly make a choice before uncovering enough to make an informed decision.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Sauve Qui Peut’s Denderah’s Secret, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Book Denderah’s Secret

Disclosure: Sauve Qui Peut comped our tickets for this game.

Immersia – Circus of the Lost Souls [Review]

Puzzling in the Moonlight

Location:  Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 2, 2020

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 30.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Circus of the Lost Souls was one of those games that captured my attention as soon as I stepped through the door. The beautiful circus exterior felt magical and inspired me to want to play.

In-game: A woman posing in front of a target surrounded by knives.
Image via Immersia

The set and hint system were an utter delight. The hinting was so well executed that Lisa and I wanted to take hints simply to interact with the character… and it was good that the hinting was strong because it needed to support a few weak puzzles.

There was a puzzle that was among the most sloggy that we’ve seen, and another puzzle that had a great aesthetic, but the logical underpinning was noticeably broken. (It seemed like the folks at Immersia were aware and still trying to figure out how to revise it.)

Immersia is a fantastic company, and I have a feeling that this game will improve with time. In the state that we played it, Circus of the Lost Souls was a mixed bag. We loved so much, but found a lot of the play too tedious for the playful environment.

If you have time for one game at Immersia, make it The Grand Immersia Hotel. If you have room for a second game, Circus of the Lost Souls is worth playing. Take hints liberally when you get stuck on a puzzle and embrace all of the wonderful ambiance and character. That’s what Immersia does best.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A gorgeous set
  • Brilliant, tactile interactions
  • The hint system was overflowing with personality

Story

The Filioni Circus was once the greatest circus in the world, awing and tantalizing all who witnessed the talents of the performers… until the circus suddenly closed.

We went to the fairgrounds to have a look around and found that the circus and the souls of its lost performers were ensorcelled by Viviera, world-renowned mentalist… and she wanted our souls as well.

In-game: The citcus exterior with a large tent illuminated in the moonlight.
Image via Immersia

Setting

The grounds of the Circus of the Lost Souls were a beautiful moon-lit world filled with tents and carts.

This sprawling circus setting was ambitious and lots of fun to wander. Every nook and cranny had texture and personality, reflecting a different aspect of the circus.

In-game: The ticketbooth for the circus with a closed sign hanging from it.
Image via Immersia

Gameplay

Immersia’s Circus of the Lost Souls was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ The Circus of the Lost Souls’ opening gamespace was the circus’ midway, a beautiful exterior that left us clamoring to know what was inside of the various structures.

➕ The circus props were cute, fun, and interactive. We found the scaled-up props especially amusing.

➖ The second act felt under-designed. We were underwhelmed by the set, props, and puzzles within the space. One of these puzzles only allowed a single player to interact with it. A different puzzle sequence had fatally flawed cluing. It was clear that Immersia had tried to refine it, and the concept had merit, but it needed to be entirely reworked.

➕ Immersia created a thematic dexterity challenge. We enjoyed how one prop transformed to give this puzzle additional dimensions.

➖ In multiple puzzles, upon making a mistake, we had to go back to the beginning of what quickly became long and tedious sequences.

➕ Immersia created an adorable, playful hint system for Circus of Lost Souls. The gamemaster could adapt it to the team. It added so much charm to the experience.

➕/➖ The clock in the moon was a cool idea. That said, we wanted the moon to be more of a natural timer; there were ways to do it.

➖ Throughout the game, it appeared as though Immersia had defaced their sets with scribbles. Although we had fun resolving this oddity, we wished it had been executed more cleanly within the game’s aesthetic, and had been justified in the narrative.

Circus of Lost Souls had a tangible and satisfying meta puzzle. This was an unusual mechanic. It was chaotic, but also organized, and worked well in a circus.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Note that this game is at Immersia’s Boisbriand location.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).

Book your hour with Immersia’s Circus of the Lost Souls, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Book Circus of the Lost Souls

Disclosure: Immersia provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escaparium – The Final Stop [Review]

The fastest route between St. Louis, New York, & London

Location:  Laval, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 2, 2020

Team size: 3-8; 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

Escaparium’s The Final Stop was purchased from St. Louis Escape and heavily modified at the gameplay level with only 3 of the original 12 puzzles remaining in this version. (Interestingly enough, I was able to successfully guess which 3 puzzles were kept exactly as is from the original game.)

In-game: Seating a strap handles for an old, heavily worn subway car.

The Final Stop looked and played like an improved St. Louis Escape game. It was aesthetically pleasing, with some weaker puzzles (especially a pair of original puzzles in the first act). The new gameplay additions were smooth, but still felt like traditional escape room puzzles without much of a cohesive narrative tying it all together.

This is not my style of game, but I can easily imagine plenty of people loving this The Final Stop, especially those that heavily value set design over novel gameplay. This was a far better game that I was expecting when I learned of its origins. Escaparium did good work making The Final Stop their own, but it still doesn’t feel like an Escaparium game.

If you’re in Montreal and looking for a set-driven adventure, The Final Stop offers quite a bit to look at. That said, I don’t think that it comes close to rivaling some of Escaparium’s top offerings like The Lost Island of the Voodoo Queen or either of their Wizard Four games (Wands or Gloves)

Who is this for?

  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The set is impressive
  • There are some fantastic effects and interactions

Story

After a long day of work, we boarded a dingy St. Louis subway. As the ride progressed, a voice boomed over the PA system to inform us that our lap belts had been locked, and that the train was loaded with explosives and was barreling towards the City Center. We were about to become victims of a New World Order uprising… unless we could stop the train ourselves.

In-game: seats of an old, rundown subway.

Setting

The Final Stop’s environmental design was fantastic. It had a compelling rundown and decrepit look. At times the set felt like it was moving, which was a pretty cool detail.

In the mid- and late-game there were some strong set-based interactions that were just fun to look at.

In-game: The ceiling of an old, worn subway car.

My biggest gripe with the set design was that for all of the weathering and intense detailing, this train had no idea where it was from. The PA told us that we were in St. Louis, the iconography and train stops were from New York City, and the system’s insignia was that of London’s Underground. I know that the game was purchased this way, so it’s a struggle for me to understand how a designer can patina a ceiling but not keep logical consistency in the train’s location.

Gameplay

Escaparium’s The Final Stop was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a heavily worn gate protecting the train engineer's booth.

Analysis

The Final Stop looked outstanding. The early set evoked a certain stereotypical subway aesthetic; it was weathered and gritty.

➕ Escaparium added motion to this set. Through video as well as actual motion, it felt as if our subway car was moving.

➖ The set was a bit too dark. We struggled to differentiate colors… and none of us were colorblind.

➕ The puzzles worked cleanly… even when we weren’t sure if they would.

➖ It felt like there might have been a few ghost puzzles hiding about the set. Additionally, the gameplay lacked cohesion. Each puzzle stood on its own rather than coming together to give this ride some momentum.

❓ The gameplay style was search, connect, and input. It offered us few meaty puzzles. If you find everything you need, this train will reach its destination quickly.

➖ While the final stop concluded with an explosive prop, the late-game gameplay lacked a matching energy. The Final Stop needed a larger, more integrated conclusion that unified the experience and left a lasting impression.

➕ In the end, The Final Stop felt infinitely larger than it actually was.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Note that Escaparium has multiple venues around Montreal. The Final Stop is in Laval at the Boul. Rossignols location.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • There is some motion in this game.

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

Disclosure: Escaparium comped our tickets for this game.

Missions Morpheus – Apocalypse [Review]

Hot Sauna Time Machine

Location:  Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 1, 2020

Team size: 4-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 30 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Apocalypse was a fun, puzzley game in an attractive setting. Missions Morpheus included some great interactions and a strong transition moment.

Missions Morpheus "MM" in a target reticle logo.

While that strong transition moment was cool, there were clear opportunities for refinement that could have made this game epic.

Additionally, with one towering ghost puzzle, it seemed like what they had originally created was far too complicated for an escape room.

I feel like Missions Morpheus was so close to having something incredible on their hands. I hope that they make a few selective improvements to this escape game.

Even if they don’t, I can comfortably recommend Apocalypse for players of all experience levels.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A cool set
  • Nifty scene transitions
  • Puzzles that cleverly used the space

Story

A man claiming to be a time traveler had been arrested. Interpol couldn’t find any documentation of this man’s existence in any database. He alleged that terrorists had traveled through time from November 2022 to his time in 2522, where they had detonated a bomb that ended the world.

There was a recording of a break in at the old workshop-turned-museum of Middle Ages scientist/ inventor Sebastian Trithemus, who claimed to have created a time machine. The cameras showed men entering the building, but never leaving.

Setting

Apocalypse was set in a Middle Ages workshop, made largely from wood. Bookshelves lined the walls, along with drawing, diagrams, and maps. Various tools and equipment were dotted throughout the space.

It looked good. I would show it to you like we always do, but there was a strange mix-up with Missions Morpheus: When we visited they told me that they had photos that they could send. However, when I followed up over email, they told me us no such photos existed or could be taken and emailed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Gameplay

Missions Morpheus’ Apocalypse was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ Missions Morpheus set Apocalypse in a large space with intriguing props and puzzle elements. It had a cohesive aesthetic. It looked polished.

➕ Missions Morpheus minded the details in the gamespace, covering the material of a common escape room item to make it feel more of their world.

➕ In the first scene, Apocalypse presented a variety of challenges that required us to think in different ways. Many of these were meaty, layered solves. We especially enjoyed one visual extraction from a tangible solve.

➖ Apocalypse had one glaring ghost puzzle. It was disappointing to see this prop standing without purpose. The resulting interaction seemed especially forced.

➕/➖ Apocalypse included an exciting transition in two acts. It was a fun setup. That said, if the team made an easy mistake, the reset required a gamemaster’s instruction and substantial backtracking. We liked the concepts behind this transition, but it felt like a missed opportunity for a truly memorable sequence. Furthermore, given the story moment, we expected a more dramatic transformation.

➖ In some instances, we encountered imprecision that stalled our forward momentum. This took the form of a few finicky measurements. It also included a lack of precision in prop construction that left us bewildered. Cleaner execution would have given us more confidence as we worked through one process puzzle.

➖ Although Apocalypse was not a search-heavy escape room, Missions Morpheus missed an opportunity to sidestep a certain tired search trope.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking. Download the P$ Montreal parking app to pay the meter.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • Players will be split into two different starting areas, but they can see and hear each other.

Book your hour with Missions Morpheus’ Apocalypse, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Missions Morpheus provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Sauve Qui Peut – Dream Weekend [Review]

16 & phoneless

Location:  Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: February 3, 2020

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 30 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Dream Weekend surprised us.

After a humorous introduction, the opening scene was profoundly underwhelming, but that gave way to some incredible moments.

In-game: A very pink girl's bedroom with a large heard on the wall that reads "FOREVER" underlined by an arrow.

From the set to the puzzles, the first act of Dream Weekend felt like a dated, lame escape room. David more or less checked out and lounged on that bed, convinced that Sauve Qui Peut had finally produced a total dud. He was wrong.

As the rest of the game unfolded, we were awed by the ingenuity that went into the story, set, and puzzles.

Dream Weekend was far from flawless, but it was incredibly inventive. Once it had some momentum, it was a delight. If you’re in the region, this is one of many games at Sauve Qui Peut that’s worth checking out.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fantastic sets and scene transitions
  • Cool puzzles
  • An amazing and clever set piece

Story

Elodie’s parents had planned a “dream weekend,” a vacation away from home and without any technology. By disconnecting, they could all reconnect. This may have been her parents’ dream, but it was Elodie’s nightmare.

Setting

Dream Weekend opened up in a bland bedroom. It had all of the right components, but there wasn’t much of anything special or exciting about it… It didn’t stay bland.

Dream Weekend transformed into an exciting and innovative space that would be wrong to spoil.

In-game: Closeup of a box with a unicorn painted on it, sealed with a red directional lock.

Gameplay

Sauve Qui Peut’s Dream Weekend was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and making connections.

Analysis

➕ Sauve Qui Peut established the story of Dream Weekend on a screen with a scene unlike any we’d seen before. It was humorous, bizarrely captivating, and entirely appropriate for the story of this escape room. (Of note, to fully appreciate this scene, you need to read French… but it’s still great fun if you can’t.) 

➕ Sauve Qui Peut built a whimsical set for Dream Weekend. It transformed in unexpected ways.

➖ With the exception of the story setup, the initial act of Dream Weekend was underwhelming. It looked mundane at best. Fortunately, it improved dramatically from there.

➕ Although the world of Dream Weekend appeared uninteresting at first glance, it delivered surprising and delightful reveals. These included set transitions, visual word play, and unusual decor.

➖ Some of the early puzzles hearkened back to the earliest days of escape room gameplay. We were searching through worn paper props for codes.

➕ The whimsical gameplay of the later acts left us all smiles. We especially enjoyed what we didn’t find when we opened one late-game lock.

➖/➕ Dream Weekend lacked a finale that could stand up to the strong moments earlier in the escape room. That said, Sauve Qui Peut did bring the game full circle, which we enjoyed.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • For the full experience, all players need to be able to duck, and climb over small barriers.

Book your hour with Sauve Qui Peut’s Dream Weekend, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Sauve Qui Peut comped our tickets for this game.