More magic from Improbable Escapes
It’s happened: you and your friends have been selected to attend Wizzle Wozzle’s Academy of Wizardry, the world-famous school for students of the magical arts.
For centuries, countless clairvoyants and conjurers have begun their careers at Wizzle Wozzle’s, trained under the watchful eye of Headmaster Margaret Meedstool. Graduates go on to glory and greatness, but the Academy accepts only the most promising witchlings and would-be-warlocks! All aspiring apprentices must pass the Academy’s entry exam, and it’s your turn to be tested.
The TriWizard Trials will take all of your sorcerous skills. Brew potions, charm mythical beasts, and prepare for your final test: a challenge of heart, mind and magic that reveals the true character of those who attempt it… For better or for worse.
With a flick of a wand and a little bit of luck, prove yourself worthy of wizardry! Enter the halls of Wizzle Wozzle’s Academy, cast your way through the entrance exam, and take your place amongst history’s mightiest sorcerers!
Enrolment begins now!
Welcome to the Academy.
Global health crisis or not, I think it’s safe to say that digital events are becoming part of our new normal, and may even be here to stay well into the future; at least I hope they do, particularly within the escape room industry, for several reasons. One is my own selfish desire to play games from around the world without the expense of physically getting to them, as well as use them as an excuse to see and socialise with friends and family no matter where they are in the world. But in addition to that, online avatar games remove many of the physical barriers that might make an escape room impossible for someone with mobility difficulties to experience.
Although fewer new experiences are coming on the market when compared to this time last year, and many companies are removing their digital offerings altogether, some are still embracing the world of online games. Improbable Escapes in Kingston, ON, is one of the venues that is continuing to offer a wide variety of quality online avatar games, which is great for us, as there were a couple that we hadn’t been able to make time to play yet. But when a sale on gift vouchers made their already quite reasonably priced games (thanks to the CAD-GBP exchange rate) even better value, it was a no brainer to set up a date for a virtual gathering to escape reality with some friends, and take on The Triwizard Trials.
The day of our Trials arrived, and we gathered our friends Amy and Ian (from Brit of an Escape Habit) on Zoom to await further instruction and begin our entrance exam to wizarding school. We weren’t waiting long before the video feed flickered to life, and we were introduced to our Avatar. One short, but very well produced intro video later, and our magical adventure began.
We’re now approaching the two-year mark for the emergence of online avatar-style escape rooms, so this concept should really come as no surprise to anyone. The Triwizard Trials is a game that has a physical presence, and can be played either in person or virtually. It is one of those games that came across camera so beautifully that I am a bit sad we didn’t hold out to play in person, but since it’s looking unlikely that we’ll be travelling to Canada anytime soon, I’m glad we didn’t wait and risk missing it!
The set was gorgeous on camera, with distinct areas, and showing a clear progression of the story through your wizarding exam. Each new space we encountered built our expectations further, and each revealed a couple of serious “Wow!” moments, delivered either by the set decor or the magic of the room itself, and sometimes both. Were you to play The Triwizard Trials in person, you would find that the game is totally non-linear, with the inevitable choke points, allowing the team to divide and conquer the tasks of your magical entrance exam. Of course, in its online format, your avatar only has so many hands, and can therefore only work on one thing at a time, making the game more collaborative, but also restrictive regarding what and when you can explore, but the online inventory and close up photos do still provide an opportunity for teams to look at different things simultaneously – you may just miss some of the action.
Improbable Escapes are one of the few online avatar experiences that don’t offer an interactive inventory (like Telescape) or a 360 view of the room that players can explore independently, and I actually kind of like it. What they do provide is a series of close up images and wider angled photos of important elements in the room, as well as additional information, hidden behind passwords on a website. While some may prefer the 360 views and interactive aspects of other inventory systems, I prefer this style as it guides the player to focus more on the live video feed, and the interaction with their host, which is really the best part of these games.
I know as a team of four enthusiast/bloggers with an exceptional amount of puzzle-solving experience between us, we aren’t the norm, but the puzzles in The Triwizard Trials certainly seemed as though they fell on the simpler side. That’s not a bad thing though; in fact, it does mean that this game is particularly suited to teams that plan to involve the kids. Players can expect a light-hearted magical adventure with puzzles that follow a clear and fair sort of logic, with plenty of signposting to guide you through naturally, without ever spoon-feeding an answer.
Part of the reason why I think The Triwizard Trials translates to the virtual format so well is a relative lack of searching. The game isn’t reliant on teams to find a sneakily hidden key under a desk that would only ever be noticed if you were guided straight to it. In fact, I’m not sure I can remember a single non-magical lock in the entirety of the game. Either way, the puzzles speak for themselves, with a pleasing number of varied and interesting challenges, with many requiring a hefty amount of logical deduction required to arrive at solutions.
Unsurprisingly, in an online avatar game, the avatar plays a massive role in just how enjoyable the game will be. When our host introduced himself as “Theodrik Kettleburn,” or “T” for short, it was clear that we were in for a more immersive experience than some of the others out there. “T” (played by the delightful Christian), was the perfect avatar with steady camera work, swift to react to requests, and he swiftly built an easy rapport with the team while maintaining his character. With every space we entered, we were given a thorough tour before getting down to the important business of puzzle solving, but always, “T” let us guide the way.
Had we ever needed a clue during our adventure, I’ve no doubt that we would have been subtly guided back on track upon request. Although, who’s to say that “T” didn’t give us little nudges here and there without us ever noticing, which is the true mark of an excellent host in the online format.
The Triwizard Trials would be a perfect choice for a family adventure, particularly if anyone is a great fan of a particular series of books or movies about a wizarding school. With a great host and excellent production values, plus fun puzzles that are perfect for newcomers to escaping, Improbable Escapes once again lived up to my already very high expectations of them.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: 1-12 players as standard
- Price: CAD$29.95 per person, minimum 3 player price requirement
- Devices: Dual screen or two devices (one for inventory, one for video) suggested
- Platform: Zoom/Web Browser
- Inventory: Yes
- 360º View: No (Pictures Provided)
- Time Zone: EST (Kingston, ON)
|Value for Money|
Team: 4 players
Time Taken: 47 minutes