The Return Of The Magician (Livestream) • UNLOCKED: Escape Room • Avatar-Led Remote Escape Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Costa Mesa, CA, USA
💪 Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate.
⏲️ Time duration: 60 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: 4-8 players. 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! ;)
TL;DR... THE QUICK VERSION
➲ Premise: Magician's gone missing before showtime--you're exploring his backstage for clues.
➲ I've already played "The Return Of The Magician" in-person prior, good memories!
➲ The original on-site rendition is a gem: well-conceived, well-constructed, and well-executed.
➲ The livestream version successfully conveys much of the same emotions and wonders.
➲ Features impressive, custom-made magician props, and actual illusions and tricks mid-game.
➲ Mostly gen-1 puzzles (locks & combos), linear game play, with proficient avatar that has room to grow.
➲ Other beta-testers, who were playing this for the first time, enjoyed the game very much.
➲ 𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😀 subjective rating: 💪 4 to 5/10 difficulty (based on irl team of 4), 🔢 ideal team size of 4.
After a long hiatus, The Magician has returned to the stage. Join us and book your tickets to find out just exactly why he was named Magician of the Year 3 times in a row! This comeback performance will be exclusively shown only at UNLOCKED Productions Theater. His magic and illusions will free your mind…
THE UNABRIDGED EDITION
Some years ago, I went to a modest looking escape room company in Orange County called UNLOCKED: Escape Room. Inside, not only did I experience an excellent magician-themed escape game, "The Return Of The Magician" , I also witnessed an actual illusion mid-game and a magic trick performed by a hobbyist magician post-game. Though this is definitely an overuse of the word "magic", it was indeed a fantastical afternoon filled with both literal and figurative magic, and a very fond memory I can still vividly recall today. ...Magic!
That's the thing with a well-conceived, well-constructed, and well-executed escape room, it tends to leave a long-lasting impression, and the memory you make on that one occasion will stick around for ages to come. Every clever puzzle, every surprising scene transition, and the occasional ridiculous moments (52 pickup, anyone?), I remember them, I cherish them, and I want all my enthusiasts friends to experience them. Previously, this requires you to be physically in Southern California. This is no longer the case, because "Magician" has gone global remotely via Zoom livestreaming!
Now reasonably, there is no way for me to un-play or un-see all that awesomeness that is this escape room. Regrettably but extremely truthfully, most escape rooms are one-and-done deals. So when offered to beta-test for the remote version by UNLOCKED, I decided to sit in mostly quietly and let the rest of my team play/struggle through a fresh play-through. And just to be extra sure, I tagged along one more beta group's game in silence to intently observe the guests' reactions. After two sessions, however, the result was clear: everyone unanimously loved the web-based interpretation.
I can't say I am surprised. The original in-person "Magician" is a gem. With a modest budget but vast amount of imagination and talents, the game makers created a set that features actual magician items and full-scale props. You have your magic hat, wand, playing cards, and even perhaps a box to saw someone in half. The puzzles are gen-1 style, mostly padlocked dominated. They are not terribly difficult, and are meticulously thought out, thoroughly clued, and appropriately themed with the narrative and the props. It was one of the most ideal, mentally focused escape games in nearby cities.
And who can forget that one pivotal moment, when everyone of my team couldn't believe their eyes? It was legendary in its simplicity but also astonishingly effective. In fact, I was so utterly baffled that I couldn't take a step further, frozen in complete disbelief how the team managed to pull a fast one on us right under our noses--it was amazing.
And all that mentioned, ALL OF THAT, has successfully translated across online on a livestreaming platform!
Since most of the puzzles in this game is based on finding combo codes (aka generation 1 game play), it works reasonably well with an avatar-led format. Design flow has been slightly modified to become more linear, resulting in a smooth transition from on-site to online play. The handful of occasions where live-action tasks are required, the inventory system enables the customers to participate in similar mini-games to emulate a parallel experience, thereby increasing engagement. (Inventory also features 360° panoramic view, which is now considered an industry standard.)
Web-based inventory system, featuring 360° view of room
Avatar-wise, I think the performance was sufficient for initial runs, and will only get better and better in later shows. I've met the co-owners before in person, and their genuine attitude and friendly customer service undoubtedly traversed through the cyberspace and across our monitors just the same.
I am technically "replaying", so my opinions this time may not be the most accurate reflection of this just-released online option. However, the rest of my team is composed of escape room, at-home puzzle game, and immersive experience creators, so it's reasonable to say, they all know a thing or two about what makes a wholesome and entertaining adventure. They all played this for the first time, and they all ended up really liking "Magician". So I'd listen to these pros.
Truly, I think the UNLOCKED staff has worked tirelessly to recreate the magic that they have always envisioned their guests to enjoy in-person, and their effort has not gone wasted. While I don't think this can ever completely replace their original product, this remote translation more than reasonably extends a possibility for residents across state lines, or even the Pacific Ocean and beyond, to experience what I consider one of Southern California's best hidden treasures.
(P.S. With the additions of camera tricks and special audio effects, some may even argue the Zoom virtual game play features more magical illusions than its conceptual parent!)
READY FOR FUN?
"The Return Of The Magician (Livestream)" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😀
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review/testing purposes.
⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended. ⤻ Speed code for on-site search: ULMagician