REMOTE: Unlocked: Escape Room - "The Return of the Magician"
Photos provided by Unlocked: Escape Room
Company: Unlocked: Escape Room
Game: The Return of the Magician
Country: USA 🇺🇸
Type of Game: Remote Escape Room 🗣
Date Played: 1/31/2021
Difficulty (based on 4 players): 5/10
Size of Team: 4-8 Players
Time: 60 Minutes
Price: $60.00 (first 2 connections)/ $15.00 (each additional)
You've been invited to a magic show. It's been awhile but The Magician has finally returned. You're quite curious about this exclusive show at the UNLOCKED Productions Theaters...Are you ready?
🆃🅷🅴 🅶🅰🅼🅴 🅿🅻🅰🆈
Our avatar seemed very excited about his invitation and so were we. As we arrived at the backstage, everything became quite unusual. I thought we were here to see a magic show?
The avatar did a great job with showing us around the room and automating the search process. The game master in the back office also was DJing our music transition so that whenever we arrived in another "realm", we would feel the change of scenery through music as well. We haven't seen too many companies implement this in a live avatar game as it does take an extra manpower and you'll have to precise with the timing. You can tell these creators are escape room enthusiasts as well as they rather put in the extra cost and time on their end but give the players that added immersion.
As the game progressed, we were lured deeper and deeper into the magic the room was creating. It felt like there were endless rooms to explore (or we were secretly hoping that it will never end). Their own build-in inventory system worked great with this game. We had to dedicate one player to type in the trigger words and the rest of the players will get the items automatically in their portal. Used items will also get removed right after the puzzles were solved.
The puzzles were clear cut and we didn't encounter any red herrings. I loved how all the puzzles implemented some sort of relation to magic in it. You might even learn some history and facts! The props used were all closely connected with magic as well. Having one of the owners being a magician himself definitely helped with making sure that all the puzzles made sense with the theme of this room.
The inventory system also gave us opportunities to work on the puzzles ourselves. We really enjoyed some of the interactive components as most of the inventory portals are used for collecting still shot photos only so it's refreshing to see ones that we can interact with. While we were able to interact with the puzzles, the avatar was also able to search items for us at the same time. This created that live in person play experience where teammates can divide and conquer on different puzzles.
There were definitely some "wow" moments in this game. We felt like we're watching a magic show rather than playing a game. Sometimes we had to stop what we were doing and wonder: "wait a minute, how did that just happen?" The transitions were really smooth, you won't be able to detect a thing. I guess in magic terms I would say this room was a master at "sleight of hand". We were lucky to get a tour after the game to see how the magic was implemented but a magician will never reveal their secrets. We highly suggest playing this game to try to figure out the magic on your own.
This was my first avatar-led escape room and I found it to be absolutely engaging and immersive. This escape room was converted from an in-person escape room to a virtual Zoom experience escape room and makes use of a web-based inventory system that the players will have to shuffle back and forth in order to complete puzzles. The room itself was creative and very detailed with various magic props and references to stage magicians. There was so much attention to detail and the unique storyline and puzzles would satisfy any escape room or magic aficionado. The room really felt like the office and backstage of a magician before a show. All it needed was the magician himself!
The overall storyline was engaging and easy to follow and I found that the puzzles were seamless and linear. I liked that each puzzle had reference to magicians, shows, or magic tricks and props. There were many surprises and magic tricks that stunned and awed as we made our way through the rooms. It made for a very memorable experience. The puzzles were thoughtfully done and logical and used a multitude of varying types of locks. I learned that this game had originally been a non-linear game, but was translated into a linear one for the virtual experience. I actually felt that made the experience more enjoyable so that players could see each puzzle and how it progressed from one section to the next.
Our avatar, Hung, whom we met at the start of the game was friendly, funny, and personable. I felt that he had done a great job with the camera - showing us what was in the room and following directions of what we wanted him to inspect next. Rather than a regular avatar, he felt like an extension of the team. There was one other person in the room, Tony, who handled sound effects throughout the game. It helped with the atmospheric aspect of it. I was impressed by the progression and translation of the game from in person to Zoom and felt that it was done in such a creative manner with the use of sound effects and camera. It really made for a more immersive experience.
One of the areas that I found to have some difficulty with was the lighting. Sometimes it was hard to make out certain text or see certain objects, but most of this issue was alleviated with the usage of the inventory system and online 360 degree view of the room via web interface. However, I just found it a little tedious to navigate between the Zoom window and the web inventory window during the playthrough especially during the beginning of the game. Sometimes, I would find that I would miss what was happening in the Zoom window if I was looking at the inventory window. However, this might just be due to it being my first time playing with two different windows, but it became a little more intuitive as I got used to the system.
Overall, I would highly recommend trying this game. It was fun, mindfully created, and well thought out. It's suitable for all ages. I think kids, teens, and adults would easily be awed by the "magic" of the room. The room experience translated as well as it could through Zoom although I would imagine that the in-person experience would be even better.
I had a lot of fun playing this game and found the puzzles utilized a good blend of variety with bursts of novelty. Do I feel like I may have enjoyed this game more in person? Honestly, I’m not sure. I felt that many of the puzzles translated fairly seamlessly over the video stream and I actually felt more involved than I have in many in-person games.
A lot of this was due to the rigorous inventory system. As a super visual puzzle solver, I liked that I had the opportunity to see clues in their entirety. With in-person games, I find that either 1.) there tend to be multiple players struggling to view each piece at a time, or 2. the person who touches the clues first tends to solve the puzzles before others have a good look. The inventory system did an excellent job of ensuring that everyone could participate on a sort of even playing field without respect to physical space. The ability to view a room in 360 degrees too also let me “explore” other areas of the room than my teammates or the avatar.
Our avatar-host also made the experience super enjoyable and approached the room in a way that felt like the team was in control of the experience without doing so in an obnoxious micro-step-by-step way. Occasionally, I wished that he had a sort of mounted camera system instead of a handheld one. I felt like this would have made the camera view a bit steadier at times and would have allowed him to use both hands.
Overall, the room didn’t seem to be the fanciest or most-decorated I’ve ever seen, but it didn’t need to be. [Honestly, it was pretty refreshing to not see a ton of unnecessary set-dressing or red herrings.] Though I was a bit unsure of the quality of the experience in the first five minutes or so of gameplay, that feeling quickly dissipated. There were plenty of little surprises along the way and things that made me smile. I’d absolutely recommend this game to anyone looking to scratch a puzzle itch or try something new from the comfort of their couch.
(If you do decide to try this game, give us a shoutout or tag us on social media so we know you heard it from "ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)
Disclosure: We thank Unlocked: Escape Room for comping our tickets for this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.