► SECTION I • QUICK GLANCE ◄
◣ GAME FACTS
🎮 Game: The Witch's Forest
💪 Difficulty: N/A
⏲️ Time: 90 Minutes
🧑 Capacity: Max Of 8 Players
🔐 Booking: Private
🏢 Company: Daydream Adventures
🏘️ Location: Toronto, Canada
📝 Note potential time difference when booking!
◣ FORMAT SPECS
🕹️ Format: Remote Escape Room
💻 Platform: Zoom (Live Avatar, Video, & Audio Feed), Web Browser
🎒 Inventory: Yes, Featuring "Visions" Videos, Photos, And Story Line
◣ "TL;DR!" BRIEFS
📝 One obvious standout feature of "The Witch's Forest" is that you're playing the role of a forest spirit, an ally of Hilda the witch. That's right, the witch isn't the villain, but the antihero.
📝 Linear game play, puzzles and relevant clues are hand fed to players at each step, a perhaps oversimplified format that takes away some inherent joys of an escape room.
📝 However, the very same linear structure paves way for excellent story telling. With Hilda's dedicated performance, this becomes a remarkable immersive theater adjacent experience.
📝 The entire set--both the vibrantly colorful magic forest and the detailed rustic cabin--is absolutely gorgeous. The only downside is that online players can't witness this in person.
💪 Difficulty rating: (Team of 6) It was, on occasions, perplexing. Otherwise, not hard.
🧑 Best team size: Some puzzles are headscratchers, though a group of 4 should suffice.
🧑 Best audience: Family, children, or anyone who likes fairy tale fantasy with a personality.
• • • • •
...WHOA! LOVED IT.
HILDA MUST HAVE PUT A SPELL ON ME, BECAUSE I LOVE HER.
THIS JOINS 🏆 "MUST DO!" 🏆 RANK!
► SECTION II • IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS ◄
◣ THE PREMISE
In a realm of dreams and magic, a trickster has upset the witch who lives here. Hilda has been away from the forest. Upon returning home, Hilda discovers someone has mischievously interrupted what she was working on. She is locked out of her cabin. She suspects a human may have done this, as she knows many humans detest her. In this realm, spirits often watch and listen. Spirits of the forest, such as yourself, are very wise. A witch calls upon forest spirits for guidance. When Hilda calls for your help, your spirit can tell Hilda exactly how to undo the trickster’s mess.
• • • • •
◣ THE REVIEW
For this one time only, I shall align myself with the dark arts. I stand by Hilda--A WITCH!
THE TALE OF AN ANTIHERO
Years of society norms and conventions have trained us not to trust the likes of witchery. Those who practice black magic, witches and warlocks, are evildoers.
But stop, and think, not in the perspective of a human, but in that of a forest spirit:
Hilda the witch lives in harmony with mother nature, minding her own business. Humans, on the other hand, are well known for systematic deforestation and global warming. Hmmm. Forest spirit, who are you gonna side with?
In "The Witch's Forest", you'll get a chance to discover who the real monster is. Is it Hilda?
OH GOSH. YIKES. Ok, so Hilda does look a bit scary with her green tinged wrinkly face, but never judge a book by its cover, or a witch by her dry, leathery skin, for Hilda understands the sanctity of life and shares a mutual respect with the woods she calls home.
Some humans, on the other hand...
The lack of regards for others is despicable. Why are they trashing someone else's home? Whatever happened to common courtesy and basic decency?
In an uncommon twist of events, this escape game gives rise to an unlikely antihero Hilda, and for once, you are rooting not for, but against, your own kind--mankind. Play as a forest spirit and exact revenge for all those years of human hubris, selfishness, and entitlement!
A PUZZLING JOURNEY HOME
Game play follows Hilda's return home after being away. During her absence, a human trickster (ptooey!) littered in her garden, broke into her home, and made a mess! The nerve! Hilda needs to, step by step, figure out what happened, and teach this brat a lesson.
While most avatar led games would have the players do some searching and item collecting before diving into an actual puzzle, this game presents them to you, flat out, at each step:
On an "inventory-like" webpage, participants will watch a video (known as a "vision") as the puzzle premise, look at puzzle itself and associated clues, then they can get to work. Once the puzzle is solved, players gain access to the next puzzle page, and this cycle repeats.
Player clicks on the blue button, inputs the correct password, and advances to the next puzzle.
From fiddling with poisoned apples, to potion mixing, and to casting spells with magic wands, these challenges are theme appropriate, convey a sense of fantasy and wonder, and are overall decently enjoyable. They are not especially challenging, sans maybe one or two.
However, because there is so much direct hand-holding with the presentation format--you know exactly what the puzzle is (for example, encrypted message on a scroll), what you're solving for (lock combo), and what specific props are needed to solve this--it does take away a certain level of satisfaction. Part of the joy of playing an escape room is figuring out what is relevant and having an "ah-ha!" moment when a connection is made.
Nevertheless, the wonderful trade-off of using this extremely linear approach is perfect storytelling. There's a reason why I rated this room as a "Must Do!", and I shall circle back to why in a bit. In the mean time, let's move on to the gorgeous set.
HILDA'S COLORFUL, TWINKLING FOREST
Daydream Adventures promised you a magical forest, and they delivered! Glowing mushrooms, smiling trees, a rainbow spectrum of colors enveloping the entire area, this is a fairy tale vision realized in real life.
The interior of Hilda's cabin reveals even more painstaking details, with every inch of the room filled with all things witch essential. Smoking cauldron, countless ingredients cabinets, and of course, brooms and magic wands, this is easily a Disney Park quality showroom.
It's such a shame that I don't get to witness this in person, because something of this caliber, a work of art, really, beckons true appreciation that Zoom will never be able to do justice. (Cast a teleportation spell on me if you can, Hilda, I wanna go to Canada!)
THE ULTIMATE REASON TO BOOK
As alluded to before, the decision to direct game flow in a rigidly linear, one puzzle at a time format has its drawback; but at the same time, this structure made for superb storytelling, and it actually contributed to the game's very success!
In truth, all it took for me to realize they were doing something right was really just a minor adjustment in expectation. While technically billed as an "escape room", this is more of a semi "immersive theater experience". This is less of a game with theater elements, but more of a show punctuated with brainteasers.
Indeed, there were puzzles, but they were distinctly overshadowed by the narrative surrounding Hilda, and Hilda herself--her acting, her interactions with us, her everything. Hilda was more than just an avatar. She was lively, she was humorous, and she was FUN. She was part of our team, the star of the plot, and the main attraction of the game.
What I also appreciated about Hilda was that, while she was committed to her character, she was also flexible. She didn't necessarily stick to a script. Even though the game itself was family friendly, depending on the team makeup, she made suitable adjustments.
For our team, a casual jest referencing happy hour and alcohol consumption explained her kookiness--she might've been a little buzzed this entire time?! (Jk, 'course.) She also performed an eye opening, jaw dropping, finger falling magic trick. She's unstoppable, y'all!!
Furthermore, there were key moments embedded within the game that are reminiscent of a "choose your adventure" book, rendering each experience a little more unique. A roll of a dice turned our game into an impromptu Harry Styles karaoke sesh. For the grand finale, we got to decide what punishment shall befall the human race among a list of options. Fun times.
Ultimately, perhaps--though we didn't realize it at the moment--Hilda's most potent spell was her ability to make people fall in love with her. A sinister hex this may not be, but if there is one thing we can learn from this experience is, not all witches are wicked. Some, just like you and me, simply despise blatant irreverence for others, and what's so wrong about that?
◣ FINAL THOUGHTS
Daydream Adventures has dreamed up a wonderful remote entertainment, led by one of the most memorable characters I've encountered to date. I don't usually recommend people to voluntarily offer themselves at a witch's lair, but this time, you've got my full blessing.
On a more solemn note, due to the COVID pandemic, Daydream Adventures has endured government mandated forced closure for a few months, and as a new small business, it's currently struggling financially. A GoFundMe page has been set up by the owners to help raise much needed funding to sustain business and to restore magic back in the forest. Please visit link for details on how you can support this worthy establishment.
• • • • •
◣ PARTING TIPS
★ Nobody likes vermin, but at least calm down, and find out how many you need rid of.
★ Yin-yang dualism: Where there's sun, there's moon; where there's light, there's shadow.
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⤻ Though game access was complimentary, this article was written basing on unbiased and genuine opinions.
⤻ All media credited to and used with permission from contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ The Witch's Forest • "DAForest"