An announcement has been made in the University of Magic – the Dragon’s Heart has been stolen! Without this, magic as we know it is at risk. Rumours are circulating that it was seen in Oggles Magic Shop. Your task is to use your magical powers to enter Oggles, recover The Dragon’s Heart and return it back to the University of Magic. Dark forces are involved, so take care on this quest.
When we visited Lucardo’s Manchester branch in 2019, one of the things we kept hearing rumours about was that U of M: Entrance Exam was great, but Dragon’s Heart was even better. It was these rumours in part that made us keep working to find a way to fit Lucardo Rawtenstall into our Epic Escape Room Roadtrip.
The opportunity to fit in a visit to the venue presented itself on Day Five of the trip. Having already played Corruption and Safe House, we were thankfully able to skip another viewing of the health and safety procedures, and instead took the opportunity to take a quick water break in reception, chatting about all things Escape Rooms with our host (and one of the owners of Lucardo), Simon.
Fully rehydrated it was time to step into the magical world of Oggles Magic Shop, and save all of magicdom. We stepped over the threshold and the outside world melted away as we were presented with an entirely new realm to explore.
Covid-19 Procedures: Of all the companies we visited in the time just after the beginning of the relaxation of lockdown (May/June 2021), Lucardo were the company that impressed us the most with their precautions: NHS Track and Trace, compulsory mask-wearing and temperature checks, hand sanitiser throughout the venue with mandatory hand sanitisation points mid-game, thorough and enhanced cleaning procedures, staggered games. In other words, they are truly doing everything they can to keep the public safe and remain open.
As the door shut behind us, a magical screen lit up, and we learned the purpose of our visit from Oggle himself. With our mission firmly implanted in our brains, we took stock of the shop around us. The shop was absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of magical items to investigate. The use of the available space is impressive, and made the entire experience feel exactly like the adventure it was intended to be.
And it truly was an adventure of epic proportions. The flow of the game felt relatively linear, but this was perhaps in part due to playing as a team of two, where we opted to tackle many challenges together. There were enough things to explore however, that even a larger teams would be unlikely to find that there are members without anything to do. Dragon’s Heart flowed effortlessly from puzzle to puzzle, and evoked a wonderful sense of exploration and discovery. We quickly found ourselves totally immersed in the world around us, as the story unfolded and the magic happened. The game maintained an excellent pace – we were never frantic, but the surroundings were so beautiful that it almost felt calming, despite the time pressures. The pace was sped up by the dramatic moments of magic, and as we reached the climactic conclusion, the pressure built resulting in a wonderful and satisfying ending.
On a more practical note, there have been some adjustments to certain things within the game due to the company’s Covid-19 precautions and wanting to reduce touchpoints. In reality, this affected absolutely nothing to do with actually playing the game, and had we not been told, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
Lucardo never disappoint with their puzzle design, and Dragon’s Heart was no exception. Logic, observation, some minor searching, pattern recognition, and of course, even a little bit of magic all made an appearance in the game. As with every other game at Lucardo, the signposting was on point, making the next step in the process feel entirely logical, and resulting in so many satisfying “Eureka!” moments. In fact, the only times we needed help were entirely down to our own failings – the information was there, we just didn’t follow through.
What made the puzzles so perfect though, was that each and every one of them whether it was finding a numerical combination for a padlock, or recreating a spell, was perfectly on theme, making the tasks feel organic, as though they evolved straight out of the magical universe, and more immersive because of it.
Simon had been our host for both Corruption and Safe House, and returned once again to lend his services as GM for Dragon’s Heart. He was as stellar a host third time around as he was for the first two games we played at Lucardo, paying close attention and chiming in when necessary to keep frustration due to our own stupidity down to a minimum, but never over cluing.
Clues when we needed them were delivered through the same screen that displayed the timer. It’s not the most immersive of systems, but it is effective; there’s a reason it’s become one of the default methods of clue delivery. Simon’s clues, in addition to being timely, were just cryptic enough to get us back on track, without spoon feeding us the answer. In other words – ideal.
It’s been so long since we played Entrance Exam that I can’t really confirm or deny the rumours that say Dragon’s Heart is even better, but I can confirm that Dragon’s Heart is definitely superb and well worth the trip to Rawtenstall.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 38 minutes
Website: 33 – 35 Kay Street, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 7LS