SCHOOL OF SORCERY - Exit Game
This is Matt's game No. 20.
Address: 111 N Atlantic Blvd Ste 148, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Game: School Of Sorcery
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 05/18/2018:
SCHOOL OF SORCERY // Grade: B+
"...Enjoyable experience, would recommend."
At my 20th room & 3rd adventure with Exit Game, my friends & I found ourselves at the entrance gate at the "School Of Sorcery". Forgoing my all-black uniforms from my 2 previous missions (see previous reviews for "Lab" and "Hour To Kill"), I tried my best to ace my magical exams as a freshman wizard. But watch out! Evil was lurking around the corner...
Sorcery was the most elaborately decorated room of all the games I'd done thus far at Exit Game. The first main classroom was spacious, & completely littered with Harry Potter reference that even a casual fan could appreciate. Hardcore fans, this is your must-do! The designers took the time to ensure all sets & props fit the time frame and style of the world-famous book series, immersion was rarely broken throughout the game*. (*See clue system below.)
Labeled as a medium difficulty room with 38% pass rate, Sorcery was actually a tougher room than anticipated. To put one into perspective, in order for players to make the leader board, they could ask for 1 hint overall. Otherwise, more hints were provided upon request at 10-minute intervals. My group of 5 students were so clueless & we struggled so badly at the beginning, not only did we request clues, our game master fed us directions voluntarily to move us along. Escape enthusiasts would appreciate this level of challenge, while beginners might want to practice a bit before tackling this one.
Though difficult, all puzzles were definitely doable, but sometimes a bit frustrating. Nonetheless, they were fantastically fun. With the gm's push in the right direction, we started to see just how outside-the-box and refreshing some of these clues were. When you finally wrap your minds on how to solve the riddle, the end result of finally reaching the solution was utterly satisfying. Actual padlock puzzles were kept to the minimum, and even the 1 (or 2) lock(s) we got to unlock in the game was wacky and comical in nature. It was truly a group effort to solve all the conundrums Exit Game threw at us--bringing people closer through the art of gaming! Not only did we have a lot of "A ha!" moments, we also inadvertently created few "LOL!" memories during some of our desperate but incorrect attempts. (Btw, we escaped!)
Set amidst the spellbinding world of Harry Potter universe, Sorcery was a game that appropriately employed all the magics that modern technology had to offer. With that, Exit Game truly took a risk. In general, the more tech a game uses, and the farther away a game steps away from the so-called Gen 1 style, the higher the risk it runs in case of things not working out the way the designers intend them to. But I am happy to report that majority of the magic happened without problems, rendering the game both mesmerizing and satisfying; nonetheless, minor issues did arise:
Minor spoiler: The now famous talking portraits from the HP novels were heavily featured in-game. The playful banter from these portraits mid-game made the immersive environment and narrative stronger, though at the cost of wasting the players' valuable time. A complaint reflected both by my teammate and other reviews, it's a minor setback. For me, I saw it as part of the game, and everyone's playing field was equal, it didn't bother me much. Though factually, all players would lose about 2-4 minutes overall, no exception.
The final showdown involved a genius and creative use of tech that might be familiar to gamers and arcade goers, and it was beautifully implemented in the story line... WHEN IT WORKED. I very much appreciated the format of the game, but did not possess enough knowledge in-game to perform it reliably to execute "magic spells". Again, at times, it felt more frustrating than fun. But when you did get it right finally, it's undoubtedly more :) than X[!
Lastly, the clue system involved using a walkie-talkie between players and the gm, and no matter how you frame this, walkie-talkie shatters the 4th wall, effectively ending the immersive experience. That's my one true gripe about this game, because it just didn't work well in the world of wizardry. However, since I needed hints badly to advance, I guess less-than-perfect is better than nothing at all. Of note, this was already improved compared to previous system--having the gm's actually coming into the room O__O!!!
All in all, Sorcery gave an honest and decent attempt at cloaking an awesomely interesting game in a Hogwarts robe, and for the most part, it worked just fine. In fact, it's one of the few HP themed games out there to my knowledge that is actually of decent quality. Exit Game's forte is continually game play, and that continues to stay true in my experience.
Though I definitely do prefer my other previous 2 games more, Sorcery wasn't bad! Exit Game will retain its 5-star rating. Putting minor issues aside, I recommend all escape lovers, especially the HP fans, to give it a go.