Fun, for all the family!
You have been tasked with a new mission by your archaeological team: you must enter a Mayan temple and secure the lost cup of the King. You gather your most trusted allies, jump in a helicopter, and embark on an adventure to find this highly sought after cup that has been missing for thousands of years. You and your team must be prepared to crawl through the jungle, slide into the temple, and discover the ancient secrets of the Mayan people. This comes with one catch: the helicopter will leave in one hour, with or without you.
When you take a trip across the Atlantic for a family holiday in Canada, of course you need to convince said family to do an escape room! I had done a bit of research prior to the convincing, and The Legend of the Myan Temple at Improbable Escapes was the winner for a couple of reasons. First, the sentence, “You and your team must be prepared to crawl through the jungle, slide into the temple…” made it sound super fun for not only my 14 year old niece, but also all adults involved, and second, despite the crawling, jumping, climbing, and sliding, the room is fully accessible, which was important if my mother opted to come, as she would have been in a wheelchair.
In the end, my mother wasn’t up for it, but I did manage to convince four of the family, and the five of us made our way to Kingston. We arrived fifteen minutes ahead of our booking as instructed. The reception area was full of tables with puzzle games, to keep you entertained, although, be warned: if you need the toilet before you’re locked into a room for an hour, you’ll need to be escorted upstairs by a staff member, as the venue is an office building and, at least on the weekends, the toilets were locked so I do suggest leaving a little extra time to get settled.
In reception, we were greeted by our host for the day, and given a pretty standard health and safety talk (don’t force anything, here are the locks you can expect and how they work, etc.) although the instructions about climbing on things were slightly different, as there are things you are meant to climb on!
Suitably briefed for our mission, we walked down the hall to a themed door, and after a short video with the backstory in the room, we began our mission, and what a mission it was; filled with adventure from start to finish.
Puzzles throughout the room varied between physical tasks and observational puzzles, though there was very little to do in the way of decoding. Amongst the various observational puzzles however, there was a mixture of locking mechanisms, and while there were a few padlocks in the beginning, they actually made sense in the context of the game, and were only located on things that one might expect to find a padlock. These were also kept interesting with a nice variety in the types of locks used. The real star here though were the special, custom ‘Mayan’ locks. While you still might be looking for a code to input into these, they were a neat addition, and helped immerse you in the story, especially as the conventional padlocks disappeared and were replaced by these mechanisms.
But tasks aren’t purely observing codes and inputting them into locks. There are physical elements to the game, both for fun, and for purpose. With so many different types of puzzles and tasks and a non-linear game structure, the game is fun and engaging, even when playing as a team of five, as there were very few times when anyone was left out of the action.
Room design is where this game excelled. Even with the description on the website, I was unprepared for some of the fun and exciting moments in this game. We entered a room that looked almost like basecamp for an exhibition in the jungle, with vines covering the walls, tents, and crates. As we progressed through the game, we went on what seemed like and Indiana Jones-style adventure.
The game had a clear journey, with fun and excitement, and to date, one of the most fun things I have ever done in an escape room. The only thing that felt lacking was atmosphere. The room was eerily quiet, and would have benefited greatly from a soundtrack.
Unfortunately, this is one area which really let down the experience. For a company that really seems to be striving for an immersive experience, a bit more thought could have gone into the clue system, and with a different system, this room would actually score much higher, with perhaps a 4 or even 4.5 instead of the 3.5 it received. As it was, it was just a bit of a let down.
Teams are allowed to ask for unlimited clues, but you can only ask for three in order for your escape to ‘count.’ Limiting clues isn’t my favourite method to keep groups from demanding a full walkthrough, but actually, I can kind of understand the reasoning here simply due to the method a team needs to request clues. You see, there’s a button located next to the door, and if you need help, you press the button and a staff member will appear several minutes later to ask what seems to be the problem.
Allowing the GM to enter the room to give clues immediately breaks the immersion, and really should only be reserved for something that’s gone wrong and can’t be fixed remotely. While we didn’t need a hint, we did have to press the button to request help due to a tech failure. We spent several minutes just trying to decide if we had missed something before resorting to calling in our GM with about 10 minutes remaining. The fact that she needed to ask what the problem was when she arrived, indicates to me that we also weren’t being monitored.
Even the conventional walkie-talkie method of communication, or the standard camera/microphone monitoring system, with clues delivered via screen (since there was one for the time and the backstory video anyway) would have been an improvement, as we could have immediately asked if something wasn’t working right, or if we had missed something crucial, which would have kept most of the immersive feel. As it was, because the problem occurred on the very last thing, we just felt a bit disappointed by the ending; what should have been a great reveal was dampened by needing to call in our GM and explain the issue. Had we been monitored, or even been able to request help in another fashion, this tech failure would have been barely noticeable, as the mechanism could be triggered from the control room, and the room would have had a fantastic, clear, and exciting ending, instead of a bit of a fizzle.
One thing to note – The Improbable Escapes website indicates that this room can be played with 3-16 people. I’m not clear on why the minimum number is three, and if you play with more than 8, you will play in vs. mode – where you get split into two teams and each given a half hour to see who gets further. I actually found a team of five to be a bit tight in places (it’s probably good my mother didn’t come along, as it would have felt very claustrophobic at the start.) I would say a team of 3-4 adults is optimal (take that for what you will if you have children), and I certainly wouldn’t recommend playing in vs mode with a larger team, as I personally wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the fun; you’d be better off splitting your larger team in two and booking two slots to compare times and it makes no difference to the price.
Team: Five players, escaped in 50minues (wish) with no clues
Address: 303 Bagot Street, Kingston, ON, K7K, Canada