RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 16:35
It feels like I may have a concussion from falling down this rabbit hole.
You are at a garden tea party enjoying the warm balmy weather when suddenly you notice one of the little girls wander off chasing a rabbit. You decide to follow her, and see her go into a hole near a giant resting tree. You call out to her, but get no response. You go to inspect the tree, and call out again. Suddenly you lose your footing and end up falling for a what seems like small eternity. Suddenly you are now Wonderland. Your goal is to get out in 45 minutes and free Alice from the Queen of Hearts before you both lose your heads.
Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic has been told time and time again (with many interpretations, I might add), but this time is different: this time, you suddenly find yourself smack dab in the middle of the story.
Unfortunately, once we’re there, any sense of direction we had disappeared without a trace. While we’re told that we need to free Alice from the outset, in reality she’s nowhere to be found and our eventual escape from the Mad Hatter’s tea party felt more like a prequel than the actual story itself.
It’s evident you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole from the moment you step foot on the grassy floor. A quaint little tea party set up right in the middle room tells us that we’ve interrupted the Mad Hatter and March Hare, while a slew of other memorable characters such as Absolem the caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat look down at us from atop trees and toadstools.
There’s plenty of twinkling lights to set the mood, animals to discover, and even a themed ceiling that feels appropriate to the world we’ve found ourselves in. While the room’s decorations and characters are, without question, very much homemade and quite fragile, this doesn’t really detract from the experience, even offering an additional sense of whimsy to the game’s already childish aesthetic.
Unfortunately, what does shatter the playful atmosphere of the room is the large number of “do not touch” stickers that are plastered on nearly every surface we can see, leaving our available “play area” vastly cut down due to the sections of the room we weren’t allowed to step in or investigate, apparently due to the Mad Hatter’s obsessive fear of property damage.
What makes this room truly maddening are its logic leaps and absolute lack of flow. On numerous occasions we found ourselves standing around with absolutely no sense of direction, which had less to do with the misleading signs pointing “this way” and “wrong way” around the room, and more to do with the fact that the puzzles seemed to be a few cups short of a tea set.
For one example, after easily solving a puzzle and trying the code on several locks we were stumped when nothing would open. The reason? We simply had to know that we were supposed to repeat the sequence two more times in the same directional lock.
Although its puzzles certainly fit the theme, many of them feel either oversimplified or overly complicated with only a few falling in that spot in the middle. One particular puzzle involving a chess board that should have been very cool left us scratching our heads when we were forced to read through a dozen laminated sheets of paper to solve it when there was a much more organic (and in-world) way it could have been implemented.
Going into Alice and the White Rabbit, we had high hopes that it would top the previous games we’d played at the venue. Unfortunately, after spending more than a few minutes struggling to find a sense of direction in the room, we were left feeling like we’d been expected to solve an impossible riddle.
Because we plan to review each and every game we play, we aren’t hesitant about using clues to ensure we see everything a room has to offer. In the case of Alice and the White Rabbit, however, we must have asked for at least seven or eight clues (and there’s barely that many puzzles in the room.) The amount of logic leaps and lack of flow present here are so frustrating that they take the fun out of the few activities in the game that we might actually have enjoyed, not to mention taking us completely out of the wonderful environment the room sought to create.
While its scenery is certainly cutesy and artistic, Alice and the White Rabbit falls quite far down the rabbit hole – and lands flat on its face – due to its lack of story and nonsensical puzzles. I may not be the Queen of Hearts, but my verdict for this room is undoubtedly “off with its head!”
Venue: Gulf Coast Escape Room
Location: Pensacola, Florida
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 45 minutes
Capacity: 7 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $20 per person