⏲️ TIME LIMIT: 60 Minutes
💬 DIFFICULTY: N/A (Official) | Medium To Hard (Mattster)
👨👩👧👦 CAPACITY: Up To 4 Zoom Connections
🔐 GAME TYPE:Private
💰 PRICING:€30 (EURO) For 1-2 Connections, €40 For 3, and €50 For 4
► PREMISE & OBJECTIVES ◄
Official Premise (from Bruum Escape): None. A mysterious Mr. X will contact you after booking.
► "GAME AT A GLANCE" SUMMARY ◄
📚 NARRATIVE: Straightforward and established a simple & direct goal
👀 VISUAL: Quite impressive and extensive, especially considering the limitations for a vehicle
🧩 PUZZLE: Most definitely the best part of the game; logical, well thought out, challenging
🧠 IMMERSION: Not sure if this was heavily emphasized, but the situation felt organic enough
🎮 REMOTE INTERFACE: Relied on Zoom's live feed more so than provided pictures
💁♂️ STAFF: Staff was a sweetheart, excellent customer service, provided great debriefing
💭 OVERALL: A respectable online game, a standout due to its robust challenges
🎟️ BEST FIT FOR: Team with at least a bit of experience, or time may run low
🎫 IDEAL TEAM SIZE: Use 3-4 connections (if novice, fill each connection with 2 brains)
let out a sigh of relief... No getting cursed by the fortune teller! Whew!
"The Search For The Magical Artifact" officially joins the "Recommended" rank!
► *always* remember to pay ◄
"The Search For the Magical Artifact" is one of those games that really surprised me.
Most mobile escape rooms or games taking place in a recreational vehicle (or "trailer") that I've seen in the States don't seem particularly impressive. And although I've never actually tried one, my initial perception of them as a genre was never quite outstanding.
Indeed, there may be some unexplained and undeserved bias going on, but in the back of my head, I think, "How much can you really achieve in a travel home?"
This is the exact moment when Bruum Escape goes, "HOLD MY PHONE."
"Magical Artifact" really changed my perspective--for the better!
The Search For The Magical Artifact (Credit: Bruum Escape)
Despite this being a "one room" setting adventure, since you really can't hide another secret area behind a fake wall in a vehicle, Bruum's genius puzzles really made this game worthy of praise, and I found myself thoroughly entertained despite the static "one room" nature.
So what exactly is going on?
To be completely honest, I am a tad shocked at the lack of specific information pertaining to the game when you book it on the official website. You get the title of the game, one single photo, and a brief description of how a Zoom based remote room works, and that's it!
The Search For The Magical Artifact (Credit: Bruum Escape)
Whether that was intentional or not, I hope I can shed some light for you in this review.
First, the plot: in essence, Mr X, who's been cursed by the fortune teller who owns the caravan (aka the mobile vehicle), seeks a way to break the hex.
You see, he neglected to pay the fortune teller the last time he visited, and his life's been miserable ever since. Desperate as he is, he's wiling to break into the trailer illegally, but he'll need your help to retrieve the magical item that is responsible for his misfortune.
Now, this exact story will be introduced to you via email after booking, presented as Mr X's urgent plea for help through a video message. While this most definitely increased the immersion factor and the players' understanding of their mission, I still think a brief or even cryptic message of some sort on the booking site would do good in a customer's perspective.
However, everything's smooth sailing from this point forth.
Once my game appointment time arrived, on the dot, Mr X made contact. He swiftly jimmied his way into the travel vehicle, and quickly snapped a few photographs. He then emailed all pictures to us, (this photo gallery would function as your only supplemental "inventory" screen), and the clock countdown officially began.
Ironically, for an escape room game that took place in a very defined and limited space, on a parking lot even, this caravan was jam packed with all sorts of occult items. Anything associated with the supernatural and mystical, they probably carried it here somewhere.
I actually thought the "production value" was pretty decent, way beyond to what one may anticipate for a mobile experience. I put production value in quote because this wasn't exactly a set; it literally WAS a fortune teller's caravan. The authenticity took care of itself.
Uhhhhh... creeeeeeeepy stare!
What I then appreciated the most was the clever usage of space--there was no wastage! Every surface, walkway, and corner, if they could fit a prop, a puzzle, or a decoration there, THEY DID.
The instant overall effect it had on me was that the designer really took the time to fine tune and to perfect this experience for its customers. The overwhelming amount of decor, however, did result in a rather lengthy exploration, which was necessary to eliminate red herrings, (which there was quite a handful, due to the extensive theming).
(A quick side note: this game heavily relied on the Zoom's video feed to relay information, since you're only given a limited amount of supplementary photos, so do make sure to give clear and precise instructions to Mr X, your avatar. You won't want to miss anything of significance.)
Nonetheless, once my team got a good bearing on what's puzzle relevant, and what's not, the red herrings did not present much of a problem at all. In fact, it didn't take us long to discern which props, objects, or areas to focus on, because the clues were cleverly "marked".
Thank you very much, Bruum, for good puzzle design and execution. I always appreciate a game that gives its participants a fair chance of success and minimizes frustration.
An intriguing and suspicious setup
Even given such consideration, these puzzles were not easy!
And that's probably what hooked me the most effectively, because as an expert player (haha, I kid) playing in a team that has collectively seen hundreds of escape rooms prior, finding strong mental challenges that actually make us stumble is no easy task.
And "The Search For the Magical Artifact" managed to do so... Several. Flippin'. Times.
Most of the puzzles we had to solve ultimately led to a solution for a lock, but no one journey was the same. It often took us several steps to arrive at the final destination, and the complexity overall made me smile with satisfaction. And since each path was vastly different from the prior, really keep your mind flexible enough to activate those idea light bulbs!
While the game was technically non linear, we didn't exactly split up to solve different things at once to save time because: 1) it's a little difficult to do so in a remote game setting, and 2) these puzzles really needed our collective brain power. Again, they were not easy!
And this made it all the more rewarding when the team FINALLY got it right.
Of note, though the game took place in a mobile vehicle, there were still a few tech related and magic inspired moments, which was surprising since I didn't expect (or know) if these could be installed in a car... apparently, it's doable.
Mr X, may you live a long and happy life now
After an almost hour long of persistent effort and occasional struggles, we found Mr X's highly sought after belonging, and not a minute too soon, either. Another minute more, the fortune teller would've returned after 60 minutes, and all would've been for naught!
I can't imagine the next curse they would use on the already cursed Mr X if they found his meddling with their precious caravan... But most likely a slow and painful death?!
Not only was the game itself a fantastic online experience, I must also cordially and explicitly thank our game host/avatar Paolo for being such a trooper, running our game at 6 am (Italy time). Yes, you read that right, he woke up extra early, so we could play at a comfortable hour during the evening in California!
As one can see, the time difference between Europe and the States could be quite dramatic, so I am especially grateful that Bruum Escape could accommodate such an arrangement with absolutely no complaint--nothing but impeccable customer service.
To the most experienced, or some even jaded, escape room enthusiasts out there, "The Search For the Magical Artifact" may just be the rival you've been long waiting for.
► DISCLAIMERS ◄
We at "Escape Mattster" appreciate this company's hospitality and the opportunity to publish an honest review. Though game access was complimentary, we aim to provide *only* genuine & unbiased opinions.
All official media are provided by or credited to respective contents owners, and are used with proper permission for the purpose of this post.