The ‘Magic room’ that lacked magic
Merlin’s Magic School is in trouble. The entire school was accidentally cursed during a talent show, and only you and your team are able to save everyone by finding Merlin’s hidden spell book. In this game you’ll have to figure out what to do with magical objects, get help from a magical creature, and work your way into Merlin’s secret study.
Our second game at this venue, unfortunately for us we booked three of them before even trying one, was Merlin’s Magic School. From what we understood this seems to be the jewel in the crown at Escape Rooms Palm Springs as they are proud to call it a ‘3rd Gen’ room.
You can see in our ‘Titanic’ review what we thought about the set up at this place (think amusement arcade) so I won’t dwell anymore on that. What made this room different to the others is that it relies on tech and you use a wand to solve puzzles. The wand idea is a nice touch but we found it to be very temperamental and you have to be very precise with it to make it work properly, plus we can’t remember using it more than maybe six times? It just felt like a bit of a gimmick.
Anyway, so we enter the room fully expecting to be locked in and away we go, but then the GM explains that she is Merlin’s assistant and if we need help/clues we ask her, and she stands by the room and is always there – very odd! So not only are we dealing with the pressure of one hour to solve this room but now we have a GM standing in the room watching everything we do, I know normally you are watched by someone on the camera but this felt very different and much more intrusive.
We had to get a clue to solve even the first puzzle as it just didn’t fit with the room theming or really make sense, unfortunately the room didn’t get much better from there and it felt like we went from clue-to-clue.
The last puzzle, I think it was the last, was a stretch at best and it felt like the room designer probably thought it was obvious but it really wasn’t and even when it was explained it was hard to understand exactly what they were going for.
Third gen rooms are great and I love tech in a room, but this room failed on so many points. The GM in the room, the lack of wand usage, the illogical puzzles, pretty much everything. Although being kind, parts of the room were pretty?
A lot of the puzzles felt very weak and how people were supposed to get them without clues we’ll never know. It was nice to see a room without padlocks but padlocks serve a purpose and I’d take a padlock over a poorly designed puzzle any day. At one point I thought one of the puzzles may end in divorce for Liz and I as she was getting very frustrated as I was trying to explain some inexplicable theory on how it may work (it didn’t).
You can see what they were trying to do here and the room was very pretty with some nice little touches but there were also bits that let it down. We couldn’t see how the first puzzle really fitted in the theme and once again the lack of ceiling didn’t help.
This was arguably the strangest GM/Clue System we have ever encountered, the GM was actually in the room with us just standing by the door. Clues were unlimited and you just simply asked the GM, did I mention they were in the room?
If the room was cheaper it may be worth it just to see what a third gen room is like, but I wouldn’t recommend it and it is one that I could have quite happily lived without having done.