Magical and Mysterious
The well respected headmaster and grand wizard is missing. Your team are his brightest and most trusted students. However, Since you were the last people seen with him suspicion points to you. You have 60 minutes to enter his lair and uncover the mystery of his disappearance before you are captured by the society of magic.
Tricky Escape’s Clacton-on-Sea venue had been on our radar for a while, as we can never seem to justify travelling for just one room, and given how easy the train journey from Colchester to Clacton is, it was only logical to roll a visit to Tricky Escape into our trip out for Pathogen. So of course, that’s just what we did.
Another team was already in the foyer when we arrived, and some time was saved by giving the standard health and safety/how an escape room works briefing to us all at the same time. But then the other team was led down the hallway to a secondary waiting area, and we were able to have a nice chat with Glen, owner of Tricky Escape and our GM for the day, before it was time to play. I have to say, a nice chat with the owners or a particularly passionate GM is one of my favourite parts of visiting a venue (it’s really only second to a beautifully designed game). Tricky Escape is a lovely, family owned and operated business, where Glen and his family clearly have a passion, not only for their business, but escape rooms themselves, and it shows in both the crafting of their games, and their approach to their customers.
We’ve played a few similarly themed games now, and I’ve found that many magic-themed rooms rely heavily on hidden technology to make the game feel more, for lack of a better word, magical. In my past experience, I’ve found that this actually detracted from the game itself, as I found myself confused about exactly what needed to have a wand waved at it. Fortunately, Magic and Mystery didn’t fall victim to this. The game had quite a few moments of well sign posted, but clever tech to support the magic theme, but also relied on thematic puzzles that resulted in padlock combinations. Perhaps this takes away some from the immersion, but it certainly made for a more enjoyable game, free of frustration and full of varied puzzles.
Players that aren’t the biggest fans of searching should get on well in Magic and Mystery, with very little hidden away in sneaky hiding places. That being said, there is still a bit of searching required, and the only moments of frustration we encountered were purely down to my lack of a thorough search in one area. Logical reasoning will be a player’s best friend throughout the game, and good team communication will make at least one task much simpler.
The non-linear game structure makes this an ideal room for slightly larger groups, particularly (when one considers the theming) families, as there are multiple starting points and areas to branch off and work independently or break into smaller groups, and Gord and I often found ourselves working on completely separate things as we progressed through the game.
The space was well themed, and succeeded in looking like a wizard’s office with large pieces of dark wooden furniture taking up residence against the walls (book cases, sideboards, tables, etc.) and an assortment of smaller items to explore. On the plus side, while there is a fair amount to take in, it is completely free of red herrings, and nothing felt cluttered, out of place, or overwhelming. Some aspects of the room are starting to show wear in places, which unfortunately took away some of the mystery, but not all of the magic, and fortunately didn’t detract from the game.
The ending to Magic and Mystery was a bit of an odd one. Once we had proven our innocence, regarding the headmaster’s disappearance, it was time to escape from the room. And while this meant it was a clear ending after the climax of the game, the method by which one escapes is completely off theme, and drops some of the immersion in the magical world.
If you need a clue in Magic and Mystery, never fear, you can have one. Actually, you can request up to three, although if your GM chimes in to provide any unsolicited help or confirm you are on the right track, this won’t count against your three (luckily for us). However, should you need help, you do need to request it in a special way, which you can only discover upon searching the room. (Don’t worry, it’s easy enough to find, and adds just a bit of fun, particularly if you play with children.) Any help you need is delivered through the screen that also displays your time.
While the puzzles were logical enough that we didn’t need to actively request any help, due to a search fail or two, we were very close to asking. At one point Glen did chime in to confirm we were on the right track, and to double check something, so I have no doubt that if we had requested help it would have come through swiftly on the screen within the room.
As we’ve seen with other magic themed rooms, Tricky Escape’s Magic and Mystery clearly has elements inspired by a certain series about a young wizard, while still managing to be original, and is a well-themed, family-friendly room.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 28:56
Address: 175 Old Rd, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 3AU