RATING: 4 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 14:14
Welcome to Selma’s curio shop, your one-stop-destination for antiques, knick-knacks, and spells to summon the devil!
Arriving at the French Quarter House of Curiosities to meet your friend Selma, the door unexpectedly locks behind you. What’s going on in this innocent little shop? Where is Selma? And what is the weird shop owner keeping hidden in the back room? Unravel the secrets of the Curio Shop before the stars align and you find yourself stuck in the shop forever – or worse!
For what it’s worth, I’m still not entirely sure what transpired during our stay in the French Quarter House of Curiosities. Went to see our friend Selma, check. Door mysteriously locked behind us, check. Stopped an occultist from trying to take over the world. Uh…check…maybe?
There’s a logical story progression present throughout your exploration of this seemingly innocent curio shop, with many of the puzzles incorporating and building upon it. There’s a lot of questions answered about what happened to Selma and what’s been going on in that back room as the tension steadily builds and the stakes are increasingly raised. Unfortunately, all of this culminates in a very abrupt ending that saps the momentum out of the game like thick molasses.
With such an intense buildup, the resolution to French Quarter House of Curiosities leaves you questioning whether or not you’ve actually accomplished anything. I’m not sure if we saved the world, or if we doomed it. In the end, all I know for sure is that we escaped from the room (in a way that also felt somewhat detached and confusing), which is a lot less exciting than escaping from a story. It’s small details like this that separate great games from the best games, and something that can easily be corrected to give players that coveted five-key experience.
It requires a lot of artistic skill to toe the line between “tornado-torn rummage sale” and “cluttered antique store”, and Clue Carré does an excellent job of making sure this curio shop has enough knick-knacks to seem intriguing while not going completely overboard.
First impressions can also be deceiving, and that certainly holds true here as well. The French Quarter House of Curiosities, at first glance, comes across as a rather ordinary white-walled room. In reality, however, there are enough secrets hidden throughout the game to transform this space into something extraordinary.
I always love when a game doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’ll find plenty of easter eggs hidden throughout your experience that are more than enough to elicit some laughs, which helps to break up what might otherwise be a rather tense experience. Make sure you look at everything twice, as you never know what might change as your time ticks down!
The puzzles you’ll find in Selma’s curio shop require object manipulation and physical interaction with the space rather than the traditional methods of simply solving a puzzle which helps give the room a flare of variety. Many of my favorite activities were part of the first room, especially since solving them sometimes lead to surprising and unexpected results.
While there’s several smaller individual tasks to complete in the first room, as you delve further into the game you’ll encounter more complex puzzles that might require some additional assistance from your team. It’s a great method of funneling attention into the story at hand, something that the French Quarter House of Curiosities executes well.
While there’s not many activities you can’t find in other rooms, it’s refreshing to see that Clue Carré has taken a lot of care in crafting their tasks. Every activity you’ll do in the French Quarter House of Curiosities feels completely organic and helps further the story. In fact, there are a few puzzles that actually involve the story itself, and figuring out what happened to Selma will inevitably help you make your escape.
The city of New Orleans has such a rich history behind it, and I was glad to see that the escape games I found were just as unique. French Quarter House of Curiosities takes their beautiful city and uses it as a backdrop for a game that feel distinctly New Orleanian.
Being the first live escape game in an area is always risky, but it’s clear that Clue Carré is truly passionate about the industry and always seeking to make improvements to keep its rooms up-to-date. As such, I’m confident that it won’t be long before we see a true resolution to the story of French Quarter House of Curiosities added in, which might just give this game exactly what it needs to be elevated to 5 Key status.
Venue: Clue Carré
Location: New Orleans, Lousiana
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 7 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person
We thank Clue Carré for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.