WORLD OF ILLUSIONS - Maze Rooms LA
This is Escape Mattster's game No. 48.
Venue: Maze Rooms LA (Hollywood Branch)
Address: 1328 Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Game: World Of Illusions
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 11/03/2018:
Escape with me! Follow IG: EscapeMattster ;) Current room count: 48
WORLD OF ILLUSIONS // Grade: A "...Holy mother of God! Orgasmic-ly good!"
Wow. This room, "World of Illusions", lived up to every last bit of my expectations.
The narrative was a bit wacky: rival magician is doing his act in the circus, and now it's the perfect opportunity to find and break into his apartment, shut down his magic out of jealousy, and escape into the night before he comes back in 1 hour! A bit of a cowardly crime, but whatever.
Despite the questionable plot, the game play itself was super fantastic. From a game design point of view, I'm just in awe at how talented minds out there even conjured up such a mindblowingly entertaining room.
Not a single inch of the play area felt like a residential building. There were vines in the courtyard, ticket booth with cash register, wooden gate entrance to the circus, a realistic phone booth... No expanse was spared! Not only did the set & props look great, they also *felt* just as impressive. The materials they chose to construct with made sense. Flag banners were made out of canvas cloth, stone walls had tangible rock like surface, and so on. This level of details forced players into an immersive environment with no chance of escape back to reality.
And that's the only kind of escape I'm willing to forfeit.
Next, they definitely delivered in the difficulty department. We wanted something challenging, and we perhaps tried to bite off more than we could chew. Given, we escaped in about 55 minutes, but that's after A LOT of clues!
Having played close to 50 rooms, I sometimes find it unlikely that I'd be stumped, just because experienced enthusiasts would be able to recognize puzzles, and their respective solutions, almost out of 2nd nature. But in this game, the clues were so cryptic, I got my butt kicked REAL GOOD several times!
I kind of have this love-hate relationship with the puzzles post-game. With my first play-through, I thought the clues were extremely confusing. It's almost as if we had to read the minds of the game designers to know what's our next steps. Upon reflecting back, however, I kinda blamed my own's team not being observant enough. Had we been more focused on processing the subtlety of key words or moving items, we would've had the pleasure of solving some of the most creative riddles without asking for hints.
Of note, an unusually high amount of red herring also correspondingly buffed up the difficulty... but at least these time-wasters were aesthetically pleasing.
I should also mention, with much respect, a majority of the puzzles followed the theme of magic pretty darn well. Well known magician motifs like rabbits, wand, daggers, playing cards all made their appearances in the game, & they came together organically enough that I couldn't help appreciating the level of sophistication the game was able to achieve. The more I thought about it after, the more I love it now.
Usually, such a marvelous room means an automatic 5-star rating for the business, but...
1) There's one puzzle with clue reveals that's not reversible. That means if you miss it, you miss it. (Technically, there were visual cues you could go back for review, but that only dawned on me post-game. As a first time player of the room, with no prior knowledge to reflect back on, it's extremely hard to backtrack to formulate the solution.) Honestly, guys, that's a tad bit of bad game design.
2) Walkie-talkie clue system SUCKEEEDDD. Multiple times, I couldn't understand what my gm was speaking to us. It's extremely static-y. Inversely, when I asked for a time check, gm gave me a clue instead--that means she couldn't hear me well either. I'm sure Maze Rooms could work out a better solution in due time.
3) Photo policy. Listen, a post-game picture means much to me. (For example, check out some of my other post-game pics. I often put in effort in either posing or costumes to make them unique.) Furthermore, I have tons of passion for this hobby, and I often spend a lengthy amount of time to carefully craft a detailed and fair Yelp review, posted along with a cute pic, to essentially help promote the business. Tonight, I was denied of taking a pic in front of the ticket booth. (I even had an awesome play-pretend pose in mind.) Instead, the policy was to photograph in front of the circus entrance, and nowhere else. ...REALLY?! I fully understand the business's desire to keep the magic and secrets of their games intact, but the entire ticket booth area is NOT a spoiler. You guys LITERALLY use that in your promo materials on the official website. So whyyyyy, Maze Rooms, whyyyyy?
That alone made me disappointed, though not critical enough to affect rating by itself. Sadly, however, along with other 2 reasons, 1 of the 5 stars performed its own magic trick and vanished in an amazing disappearing act. Abra kadabra! And poof! it went.
Perhaps there'll be room to improve this rating in the future?