PIRATE'S DEN - MagIQ Room
This is Escape Mattster's game No. 27.
Venue: MagIQ Room
Address: 1446 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Game: Pirate's Den
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 07/10/2018:
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PIRATE'S DEN // Grade: B-
"...Put on to-do list, try it out when free... or not."*
*Depends heavily on players' age, game price, expectation of experience, etc. Best to go in with an open mind. We had fun.
Honestly, MagIQ Room wouldn't be my usual escape game choice, except: 1) it's practically a steal on Groupon, and 2) my friend, who had never done a single escape room before, needed an entry level game to gain some much needed experience.
But... I was quite pleasantly surprised.
Let's go back to the top. Booked a weekday night game for "Pirate's Den", so parking was a breeze. Even though there was parking available in the rear, I was able to find a metered space right in front! It's already after 8pm, so it was free. Found my gold before the game even began.
The facility itself was spacious, and not to mention extremely clean, tidy, and neat. Bathrooms were spotless. Staff was friendly, provided us with free water, and went over the usual logistics timely and effectively. It felt to me that this business was highly organized, and for one that's mainly advertised to younger audience, I felt extremely comfortable trusting them to host a great kids event.
But I digress.
Game master (Gabby?) assured my team of 4 that even though their games are kids friendly, they are not necessarily easy. I was like, ok, we shall see.
Then, the back story. This was one of my favorite parts because the plot was elaborate, made sense, and coherent enough for kids of all ages (that's us!) to appreciate. You have stolen treasures from the infamous Davy Jones, and he'd captured you, because, of course, he's mf-ing Davy Jones. Why would you steal from him? Now incarcerated on board in his pirate ship prison, you got 1 hour to break free the cell, escape the ship, find the once again hidden treasures, and haul your booties with your booties far, far away.
Stepping through the main entrance door titled Pirate's Den, the setting transformed into a pretty believable ship cabin. It no longer felt like we were in a building. The interior set of the ship deserved much praise, as the designers clearly took the time and effort to build something special here.
As the game progressed, however, the exterior of the ship still looked somewhat impressive, but the beach scene was meh in comparison. From other reviews and promo materials, I was expecting real sand to complete that paradise look. The sand was now *gone*... kinda? (Or less than expected?) I guess I had high hopes that scene. Why not more sand, MagIQ?
As far as the puzzles went, not bad. I do wanna to critique this up front--this game was most definitely a "puzzle room" with a handful of puzzles slapped together, somewhat coalesced by a loosely immersive pirates theme. While the back story was impressive, the puzzles could've been anything, and the designers would've found some way to jam 'em into the mix. It felt more like an fun activity book (or CD-ROM, or app) sprung alive into real life--and you happened to pick up one that featured pirates, treasures, and Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, (which I might note, did add on to the experience.)
The activities themselves had a wide range, and they were fun to do, no matter how thinly veiled by a pirate costume. In particular, there were a lot of "activity sandboxes", in which you may have to escape a maze, or obtain a certain item a certain way, etc, which were all enjoyable--though no way organically existent in the world of a pirate's life.
Regarding tech, there was NONE. This was your typical gen 1 room with solid game design, reliant on the most basic props, which was smart, since let's face it, your 7-year-old cousin would 200% break tech sensors. No? Ok, mine would. Nonetheless, I never dock points for strictly using gen 1 game elements, as long as the end product could provide decent entertainment. (This room fits that bill.)
As to difficulty, our GM was right. (Darn it.) It was not easy... for the first 10 minutes. We were not allowed to ask for clue for the first 10 minutes, and we were completely stumped by our first puzzle. So we basically were forced to stand there and let the seconds escape away, instead of us doing the escaping. After overcoming the first hump though, the rest of the voyage was smooth sailing. Team #BootyExperts escaped after roughly 41 minutes.
Overall, we had fun. My escape room virgin friend was no longer a virgin, and she's open to doing more. And that's all I really wanted anyway.
While not my usual recommendation of choice, MagIQ certainly had found a unique niche in this saturated LA escape room scene, and managed to entertain its non-core demographic at the same time, even for a fraction of the regular price for its customers. That's not shabby at all. For all you adult escape enthusiasts reading this Yelp review, if you need a quick fix, give "Pirate's Den" a try. Great bang for you buck, or excuse me, I meant Doubloon.