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.

Sauve Qui Peut – The Underground Bar [Review]

Putain and other French wordplay.

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

Date Played: April 8, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Underground Bar was all about sex, drugs, and booze… and let’s just say… it didn’t beat around the bush.

What opened as a fairly traditional puzzle-focused escape room in a bar transitioned into something considerably more outlandish. It was a great time… until the final minutes.

In-game: a back-alley behind a bar.

The quality of the closing set and puzzle were well beneath the rest of the game, causing an otherwise wild ride to fizzle.

Did it ruin the game? Not at all.

Would it have been way better if the closing of this game were on the level of everything else that we played at Sauve Qui Peut? Absolutely.

If you’re over 18, near Montreal, into playing an adult game, and you’re with a group of people whom you’re open to playing this kind of game with… then you absolutely should.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Strip club goers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Beautiful and detailed set
  • Unexpected reveal
  • It’s 18+ for alcohol, drug, and sexual content

Story

Our department had suspected this Manhattan bar of being an epicenter for crime. We were dispatched to investigate it and learn what kind of criminal was calling this bar home.

In-game: an electrical box in a back-alley.

Setting

We began The Underground Bar outside of the bar before progressing inside. It was a good-looking space that made use of wall-sized murals that actually added depth and character to the environment.

From there, things got a bit seedy… which was how it was supposed to get.

In-game: a grafitti's dead face.

Gameplay

Sauve Qui Peut’s The Underground Bar was a standard escape room with a section that had 18+ theming. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ The opening scene of The Underground Bar set the tone for a clandestine operation. The puzzle flow worked elegantly.

➕ The wall art in The Underground Bar was phenomenal. It was beautiful and gave the set some depth without ever creating red herrings. We’re not usually big on murals, but this one worked.

➕ The puzzles were well themed for the setting.

➖ The final act was a letdown. The gamespace was crowded and uninteresting. The gameplay felt dry, especially considering the previous act. Our momentum ground to a halt.

➖ While most of the clue structure was built into the set, one complex, layered puzzle relied almost entirely on a journal. While not exactly a runbook, it had a lot of the same problems. It was too compact to engage the entire team in the only available puzzle. The game bottlenecked at this point.

➕ One puzzle initially posed a stiff challenge, but after trying a few different angles we quickly came to a satisfying conclusion.

➕ Sauve Qui Peut hid its secrets well. The Underground Bar included some phenomenal opens.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking.
  • You can most of this game in English. You will need French (or hints) for 2 puzzles.
  • You must be 18 years old to play this game. The theming is sexual. Choose your teammates wisely.

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

Disclosure: Sauve Qui Peut 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.

Codex – Spaceship Graveyard [Review]

All of the pop culture references in the galaxy.

Location:  Laval, Canada

Date Played: April 6, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Spaceship Graveyard was a love letter to a few decades worth of space-based science fiction and fantasy.

Codex structured this escape game as a largely split-team experience and did so in a way that we hadn’t seen before. This was an exciting twist on both the spaceship and split-team genres.

In-game: a spaceship's bridge.

Spaceship Graveyard was massive, but it felt a little too empty. On the one hand, that added a bit of spookiness. On the other hand, it just felt like it needed more going on. That went for the gameplay as well. There was a lot of narrative, but the line between story and gameplay was blurry.

There’s plenty to love in Spaceship Graveyard and lots of room for iteration and improvement as well. We absolutely recommend Spaceship Graveyard for its interesting gameplay twists. In its current state, however, if you only have time for one game at Codex, it should be The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent.

We love what Codex is doing. It’s exciting to see a new company put out two games that push boundaries. We cannot wait to see where they go from here.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • An interesting take on split-team gameplay
  • So many nerd references. So many.
  • The doors. You’ll know them when you see them.

Story

We had teleported into a universe where Earth had made contact with extraterrestrials centuries ago. This alien influence had sped up development of technology and altered all facets of life.

The China America Alliance had dispatched ships to find new habitable planets. One SPC-2202 had signaled the discovery of such a place… then nothing was heard from it again.

We were dispatched across time and space to investigate SPC-2202, determine what the crew had discovered, and decide the best course of action for humanity.

In-game: a spaceship's sleeping pod.

Setting

Split into two groups, we boarded the spaceship from two different sides, each group puzzling through different compartments on the way to the bridge.

The ship was huge and spartan. It had a Star Trek-like cleanness to it.

Spaceship Graveyard was loaded with references to a wide variety of classic space-based science fiction.

It also had some really amazing doors.

In-game: an opening iris door.
If this door is ever stolen… it’s probably in my house.

Gameplay

Codex’s Spaceship Graveyard was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

About 2/3 of the game was played as a split-team experience. The entire team was together for the last 1/3.

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

Analysis

➕ There were two separate teleporters to take us to Spaceship Graveyard. This made sense from a gameplay standpoint because it was a split-team game. Codex justified this from a narrative perspective as well: as their first teleporters, they were under powered and couldn’t transport the entire group together. This was elegant storytelling.

➕ An early interaction ramped up the narrative drama of Spaceship Graveyard.

➕/ ➖ In one set of Spaceship Graveyard we had open and easy communication. In another area of the starship, we couldn’t see each other and relied on shouting. There was an opportunity to improve the ship’s internal communication channels.

➕ Many of the puzzles in Spaceship Graveyard required teamwork and forced communication.

➖ For one especially challenging puzzle, however, there was nothing the other group could do to help and nothing new they could do to advance the game. This created an awkward bottleneck with downtime for some and added pressure for others.

➖ The set was uneven. The spaceship was spacious, but the props and set pieces were sparse. It felt oddly empty. Additionally, half the group explored a more compelling space than the other half did.

➖ We were really excited about one set piece, which was fun to explore, but turned out to be largely irrelevant to our experience. It felt like a missed opportunity.

➕ Outer space looked great. The projections were impressive. The set was at its best when we could see beyond the spaceship’s interior.

➖ Codex attempted to deepen our connection to this world through an understanding of the crew of SPC-2202. Instead of working this into the gameplay, however, it felt bolted on as reading. We had trouble parsing its relevance. In this instance, the extra world texture was distracting.

➕ Codex delivered narrative through a surprising reveal. It was a great moment.

➖ We didn’t realize when we’d won. We made a choice, but it wasn’t an informed choice. We had a inkling that we were choosing to be good guys or bad guys, but we didn’t understand the consequences of either action. It left us confused about how – or even whether – we’d completed our mission.

➕That door. Did I remember to mention the door? I’m a fan of that door. I hope that I’m not over-hyping the door.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is parking in the back on the building near the entrance to the escape rooms.

Book your hour with Codex’s Spaceship Graveyard, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Codex provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Sauve Qui Peut – Final Exam [Review]

No more teachers; no more books

Location:  Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada

Date Played: April 8, 2019

Team size: 4-8; 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

Sauve Qui Peut’s Final Exam was surprising. We had been told that it would be more physical and it absolutely delivered. This escape game was all about agility, dexterity, and teamwork.

This was a truly different game that asked us to take some risks as we explored its eccentric gameplay. We had to climb a ladder and crawl… and there were confined spaces. Not everyone had to crawl or enter tight spaces, but everyone needed to climb and the tight crawlspaces were where Final Exam was most interesting.

In-game: A schoolyard fence with with a bookbag hanging from it.

Along with this experimental gameplay came some frustrations. One core mechanism was particularly quirky. Another key moment was muddied up by a bit of unnecessary confusion.

All in all, this was a nutty game. While we were a bit dubious of it in the opening act, we grew to love it. We recommend it to anyone near Montreal with the willingness to explore this strange maze to its fullest.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Agile players
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • To experience a crazy puzzle construct
  • Unusual design elements
  • Playfulness

Story

We had all aced our final geography examination, but our teacher suspected that we had cheated. We’d earned our grades fair and square, but he’d failed us anyway.

To avoid summer school, we’d plotted to break into school, hack his computer, and clear our records. Failure of any kind was not an option.

In-game: A hopscotch with each tile bearing a piece of sporting equipment shot through the gate of a schoolyard.

Setting

Sauve Qui Peut’s Final Exam opened up in a schoolyard at night. It was a fenced-in play area beside a brick wall. It wasn’t the most elegant of sets, but it absolutely conveyed schoolyard.

From there, we climbed our way into our classroom… and beyond that, well… spoilers… really strange… really fun spoilers.

In-game: A view into a classroom from the outside of the school.

Gameplay

Sauve Qui Peut’s Final Exam was a standard escape room that required more physical prowess than most escape rooms. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling, communicating, and maneuvering around tight spaces for significant periods of time.

Analysis

Final Exam had a playful premise that made returning to school fun.

➕ Final Exam incorporated physical solves including dexterity and agility. We especially liked how these solves required teamwork. One physically skilled person couldn’t solve these puzzles alone.

➖ In one instance, different clue paths jumped over one another, resulting in unnecessary confusion.

➕ While Sauve Qui Peut telegraphed some of the early gameplay, they surprised us with a reveal that changed the nature of the game. It was elegant and exciting.

Final Exam felt video game-y… in a fun way. This entire aspect of the game was unexpected.

➖ While many of the puzzles made sense in the schoolyard and classroom theming, others felt arbitrary and oddly out of place, given that theming.

➖ We solved one puzzle correctly, but the solve didn’t trigger because our choice of tool was correct, but off by a fraction of an inch. This slowed the roll of our momentum.

➖/➕ Final Exam ended anticlimactically. Because of the teamwork aspect of the final puzzle, we weren’t all together when we freed ourselves from the classroom, having cleared our names. One person stepped into freedom triumphantly without the rest of the team. That said, the exit was designed such that everyone who wished to experience the unusual element of Final Exam had the opportunity to explore this.

❓ *The entrance door to Final Exam was never locked. There was also an emergency exit door at a particular juncture. That said, Final Exam required at least some players to spend time in confined spaces. Not everyone will be comfortable with these spaces or their emergency exit options.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking.
  • This game is more physical than most escape rooms. Everyone needs to be able to climb a ladder. At least 2 people need to be able to crawl.
  • You can play this game in English or French.

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

Disclosure: Sauve Qui Peut 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.

Codex – The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent [Review]

Hammer of the Gods

Location:  Laval, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: April 6, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We finally played an escape room set against Norse mythology… and it only took 700+ games until we stumbled upon it. I’m happy to report that we adored it.

Codex struck a balance between homemade and polished that was really quite charming. The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent had great puzzle design and flow. It felt like an adventure and it conveyed a story.

The story led to an end-game decision. There was meaning in it… but we made our choice by accident. The escape room needed to provide just a bit more context.

This was a delightful game from a new and exciting company. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced player, if you’re near Montreal, The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent really ought to be on your itinerary.

In-game: A campfire burning under the stars in the middle of the autumn woods.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A unique theme and setting
  • Strong puzzles
  • Fantastic interactions

Story

We had jumped to a parallel universe where the Vikings had conquered the world. Belief in the Norse gods had grown so strong that they had become real… and Ragnarok, the end times, were upon these people.

We were tasked with investigating this place in space and time, understanding their rituals, and deciding which of the gods deserved our help.

In-game: The inside of a cabin with two wood and fur thrones surrounded by round shields.

Setting

The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent was set in a Viking world which included “outdoors” in a forest and inside a cabin-like throne room.

The set was as unusual as the story. The night sky was covered in glowing stars. The cabin was lit by warm fire-like light.

Overall, this was a good-looking set. It wasn’t perfect and the seams were easy to spot, but it was a really cool environment to explore.

In-game: a cabin covered in ivy in the middle of the woods.

Gameplay

Codex’s The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ The Viking/ Norse mythology staging was a smart choice… and remarkably, we had never encountered it before.

➕ Codex built a lovely set for The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent. The gorgeous starscape brought the space to life. The set felt homemade, but polished, and crafted with love and attention to detail.

➖ Much of The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent was played in low light. Codex could build more well-lit work spaces so that we wouldn’t be constantly relying on our flashlights.

➕ Codex used environmental details as clue structure. This enabled phenomenally tight puzzle design and especially satisfying solves… for observant players.

➕ The puzzles required a variety of skill sets. Our wits shielded us from complex, layered puzzles and we dexterously hit our targets.

➖ One late-game sequence lacked a bit of cluing. It was solvable, but it didn’t flow smoothly enough to make the actions feel as epic as they should have been. In this case, the puzzling thwarted momentum instead of building it.

The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent delivered exciting reveals. In one instance, we forged ahead to enjoy a telegraphed outcome. In other, we branched in an unexpected direction. These were both phenomenal moments.

➖ In The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent, we made a narrative choice. At the time, however, we didn’t realize we were making a choice. Even if we had known, our 60 minutes in this parallel universe hadn’t given us the context to make an informed decision. For the ending to feel consequential, we needed to understand that there were options and what each choice meant.

➕ Codex’s escape rooms fit into an overarching narrative of parallel universes. They justified their stories with universe-hopping by teleporter. This explained otherwise messy details… like bringing flashlights to a place that felt too historical to have electricity. Our gamemaster’s charming introduction and the physical teleporter provided a fun journey to The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent .

Tips For Visiting

  • There is parking in the back of the building near the entrance to the escape rooms.
  • They sell ketchup chips… it’s a Canadian thing.

Book your hour with Codex’s The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Codex provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Sauve Qui Peut – Wrath Of Poseidon [Review]

9 out of 10 gods recommend Trident.

Location:  Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada

Date Played: April 8, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Sauve Qui Peut had a style unto themselves. Their games were unusual and quirky. Wrath Of Poseidon was our favorite of the 3 games that we played with them. (They had 9 games at the location we visited.)

The second half of this game was vibrant. Wrath Of Poseidon was uneven in many ways. This unevenness paid off in the end, however, even adding to our experience.

If you’re in Montreal, Sauve Qui Peut is a bit outside the city. If you have a car, I highly recommend visiting them. Wrath Of Poseidon made us feel happy.

In-game: A periscope in a submarine.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The second act
  • The details

Story

Poseidon, the vengeful god of the seas, was furious with humanity for polluting his kingdom. In retaliation, he intended to flood the lands. The only way to save humanity would be to steal his legendary trident spear.

In-game: A sealed door in a submarine.

Setting

Wrath of Poseidon was a game in 2 acts. It began in a submarine. Then we experienced a transition of mythic proportions.

The submarine setting was great. It had a bronze sort of steampunk aesthetic that made it feel different from your more traditional naval vessel escape game.

The second act… well, if I spoiled it for you, I’d be a jerk. Rest assured, it was awesome and I would love to talk about it.

In-game: piping and pressure gauges in a submarine.

Gameplay

Sauve Qui Peut’s Wrath Of Poseidon was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ The premise of Wrath Of Poseidon was fantastical, but meaningful. The story was light but certainly present.

➕ We especially liked the puzzle that asked us to remember the why of this escape room and act according to that premise.

➖ While some later puzzles integrated seamlessly, many of the early puzzles lacked inspiration. They didn’t make a ton of sense in the world. We had to dive deep in this dark submarine to find the threads of gameplay.

➖ Although Sauve Qui Peut built a polished world for Wrath Of Poseidon, at times the clue structure felt slapped on. For example, handwritten numbers on objects felt unrefined given the level of detail in other parts of the experience.

➕ Sauve Qui Peut designed mechanisms brilliantly so that one solve enabled a later one to work properly. The gating worked well and the second solve blew us away.

➖ We tripped up on ghost puzzles. This added some unnecessary confusion… but I also think that it would be difficult to fully remove this.

Wrath Of Poseidon was a beautiful escape room. Every set was carefully crafted and artistically detailed.

➕ Wrath Of Poseidon delivered a spectacular reveal. We stopped playing to take it in.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking.
  • You can play this game in English or French. However, if you don’t read French, there is one important instruction that you may miss.

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

Disclosure: Sauve Qui Peut 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.