💪 Difficulty: Easy/medium game play (family friendly experience).
⏲️ Time duration: 60 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: 2-12 players allowed (3-5 player recommended). Private booking.
📝 Careful--note potential time difference between your location and the host's when booking.
🛒 If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
➲ Premise: Jingles the elf poured hot chocolate all over Santa's HQ control panel for his sleigh trip--FIX IT!
➲ "The Hot Chocolate Incident", though a seasonal special, is fun enough for play any time of the year.
➲ Meticulous, clever planning makes all elements of game play feel organic and natural.
➲ The set, even temporary, is constructed with attention to details, looks festively awesome.
➲ Puzzles aren't hard, meant for family, and in summary: crafty, slick, and happiness overload.
➲ Challenges are plentiful, have a wide variety, including logic, pattern, and even scavenger hunt.
➲ Avatar fulfills her role with expertise, is humorous, charming, and a theatrical gem.
➲ 𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😍 subjective rating: 💪 2 to 3/10 difficulty (team of 3), 🔢 ideal team size of 3 to 4.
You are one of Santa’s magnificent elves. You’ve been working all year to prepare for this year’s glorious present delivery. There hasn’t been a workplace accident in 3000 years, and you’re determined to not let it happen tonight. Preparing for a smooth night ahead... You sit down at the control station to guide Santa along his flight with a hot cup of cocoa in hand, but then DISASTER STRIKES! There’s hot cocoa everywhere; on everything! The system is fried, things are smoky, and red lights are going off everywhere. It’s pure chaos! Santa checks in to see if everything is running right on schedule, and of course, you’re going to lie and tell him everything’s good! You have to hurry and fix everything because he’s about to take off!
"The Hot Chocolate Incident" is an avatar-led remote escape room with theatrical elements, produced exclusively for the holiday seasons by Improbable Escapes. Yes, Christmas may be officially over, but there is nothing wrong with extending the cheerful spirits just a bit longer.
In fact, the question shouldn't be, "Why would I book this after New Year's has passed?" Instead, the question should be, "Why WOULDN'T you?" This game is so absolutely lovely, wholesome, and hilarious in every aspect, I would recommend it any time of the year. Forget Christmas in July, I would welcome this noel celebration with a huge smile every month as long as I get to have a little "Hot Chocolate Incident"! Oopsie!
"Incident" started off with Jingles the elf doing the titular deed. Spilling delicious hot beverage over the control panel responsible for Santa's safety during his annual sleigh ride could prove disastrous and detrimental to all our careers. (Oh yes, we are all his little helpers now. Yay, employment! But nay, potential termination!) After assuring to Santa over a video call that everything's a-okay--a blatant lie, of course--Jingles and we got some repairing to do. And fast.
Always a great idea to have spill-able hot liquid around your electronics | Improbable Escapes HQ
At this point, one of my teammates, the intelligent escape room veteran John, asked Jingles if there was an inventory system we could use to facilitate our mission. A valid question, since a supplemental interface is indeed an industry standard and usually super helpful. To our surprise, Jingles just (slightly slyly) replied in her high-pitched, panicky voice, "Well, then we better get looking for the repair manual!"
As it turned out, every element in this experience is well thought out and meticulously planned. To even receive our inventory tool, we first needed to conquer the very first "puzzle", a task not only intuitive, but also so deliciously clever, the children in us three grown men (actual children alike would too) unanimously loved this unusual but delightful opener.
Once our manual (aka inventory webpage) was unlocked, we gained access to room layout maps and close-up photos of all sets and props. With these high-quality pictures, along with a quick camera tour from our friend Jingles, I was finally able to fully absorb the level of details Improbable Escapes had put in for this seasonal, temporary-only escape room.
The set is festive and full of secrets! Given, this wasn't on the same level as Improbable's other Disney-style permanent options (e.g. Seven Dwarfs), but it's never meant to be. This pop-up X'mas game was still reasonably gorgeous. The first room, the control room, had confectionery galore. Gumdrop, Life Savers, whipped cream everywhere. The second room, the workshop, was equally amusing and whimsical. Production receives a solid A, because I loved it from head to mistletoe.
The Hot Chocolate Incident | Improbable Escapes HQ
The main plot revolved around our fixing of a giant computer device by inputting various reset codes, a cunning way of asking players for a series of passwords to advance. For each objective needed to save the day, like tailoring the big guy's red suit, we would have corresponding puzzle(s) to solve. These puzzles' appeal were undeniable and easy to comprehend: 1) they tell a good story, 2) they're well themed, and 3) there's A LOT in both quantity and variety to do under one hour.
In the beginning, it started off tutorial-easy. Here's a pass code, go input it, get yourselves accustomed to the process. Then it got slightly less obvious: here are some instructions and charts, do exactly as written, and viola! After that, difficulty gradually ramped up, with challenges basing on simple logic, pattern reading, and even a scavenger hunt! (The finale task was even a special first for me! Never did I ever do this in any escape game... or in my life, if I recall correctly!)
The overall difficulty never exceeded what's suitable for family audience, and the linear game play provided a good flow and easy understanding for even novice crowds. My highly experienced team (featuring The Armchair Escapist) never felt it was particularly hard, but it still worked. In short, these puzzles were crafty, slick, and happiness overload.
Last but certainly not least in any shape or form, the theatrics aspect of this wonderful experience would not have been possible without Jingles the avatar, played by Candice the actress/game master, who sleighed her double duty like a piece of yule log cake. As an actor, she aced comedic timing, jested with us, and emoted aptly as an incompetent (sorry!) elf. As a game master, she kept us moving at a desirable pace, ensuring our 100% completion. She'll surely be on Santa's good list!
"The Hot Chocolate Incident" is, by far, one of my favorites, if not the favorite, of all Christmas inspired puzzle games I've enjoyed in the past month. This limited-run option should still run through early parts of 2021, but I wouldn't chance it. Good times don't last forever, and missing something this good? Oh deer. Yule be sorry. So treat yo'elf, and book now.
It's fine | Improbable Escapes HQ
★ Open your repair manual step by step as prompted--or else you'll be revealing spoilers too soon--and that's no fun!
★ The very last challenge is surprisingly "physical" or "tactile", and having 4 players total really grants an advantage.
READY FOR FUN?
"The Hot Chocolate Incident" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
Full disclosure: complimentary game access was generously provided for review or testing purposes. All media are sourced from and credited to rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended. In certain cases, media materials are made available under fair use doctrine of copyright law. IEChocolate.