RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 18:00
Hear ye! Hear ye! Gather round brave knights of all ages (especially the smallest of the kingdom) and test your worth to join the ranks of King Arthur!
Knights of the Round Table crafts the lightest of stories, relying more on the general fantasy flavor evoked by the notion of becoming a member of King Arthur’s court. Instead of flowing story, LA Dragon Studios relies more on our own sense of imagination to transport guests into its world – and while we certainly would prefer a more narrative based adventure to establish a greater sense of urgency, we have no doubt that it proves highly appealing to younger would-be knights and princesses.
Our adventure starts off as a bit of a mixed bag, with vinyl printed trees simulating a forest on two very flat walls, while the other two are lined with actual stone, aged and sprouting a tactile moss. Ahead of us, a very believable drawbridge (crossing a much less believable moat) and stone-trimmed castle door which was, in truth, a nice wow moment.
At its core, the biggest detraction here is the forest print wallpaper. There’s just not an effective way to pull off vinyl printed walls believably, and Knights of the Round Table is, sadly, not an exception to that rule. Perhaps worse, the forest’s foreground is made up of a handful of loose, (not decorated) artificial Christmas trees, complete with their green plastic triangle bases. With no effort made to hide the fact that these are store bought Christmas trees, it’s difficult to determine if LA Dragon Studios would be better off removing them or keeping them in play. Make no mistake – we’re not saying faux trees are a bad idea – they’re a great idea – but there’s professional grade prop trees and then there are store bought Christmas trees. It’s a big difference in quality and presentation.
Several rooms lie ahead in this large scale game, but sadly, the shining star of its scenic was indeed the opening space we just touched upon. Inside, authentic stone is traded for, you guessed it, brick print vinyl wallpaper all around us. A royal throne, plus a minimal amount of additional decor is implemented to try its best to keep us inside that castle mindset. Uncomfortably, one area boasts simply solid black plaster walls – made significantly worse by its adornment of cotton Halloween decoration cobwebs – a moment that quickly drew us out of our wallpaper castle and hurt the overall momentum.
Knights of the Round Table makes a truly solid effort to keep its puzzles locked within the mood of King Arthur’s world – and while on their own (beyond a highly satisfying finale moment) they don’t necessarily further any sort of story to keep the narrative feeling action-packed, importantly, they never detract you from the tone or style of objects we’d expect to find in the coveted “if it were real” conversation.
The puzzles within, from start to finish, are of the easier variety – but here’s the thing: that’s a hugely positive attribute that Knights of the Round Table has behind it. LA Dragon Studios prides themselves – as they should – in being very family friendly. In a local world where some of the best games center around a cannibalistic serial killer testing your merit before crushing you alive, Knights of the Round Table offers something not many others can boast, or, for that matter, do well: a solid, family-friendly game.
Our (extremely experienced) group solved everything within the main game – that being everything but finding a small hidden key to unlock a bonus puzzle – in about half an hour, without any hints – not withstanding a few too many red herrings that may frustrate players, as well as a moment or two of simply guessing an answer due to a bit of a lack of solid direction. And while Knights of the Round Table wasn’t super-challenging for us, there’s just no question that we are not the games intended demographic at all. There are several moments – especially that aforementioned finale puzzle, that we have no doubt will completely blow away the smaller knights and princesses of your own round table.
And you see, lords and wizards, the moral of our epic tale might just come down to a single word: expectations. LA Dragon Studios boasts themselves as having “Hollywood-quality scenic.” They do not. They unquestionably have much nicer scenic than one might find in a dreaded white square box office game. But the problem is, when you’re situated a stone’s throw from actual Hollywood, and you openly use the phrase “Hollywood-quality,” it carries a lot more weight. We walked in expected a grand castle as their description and marketing implies, and were met with vinyl wallpaper and Christmas trees.
Had the entirety of the King Arthur’s castle matched the stonework and textures found in the first room, Knights of the Round Table could have easily been in conversation of a 4 Key score. But despite LA Dragon Studios’ bold scenic claims, that is not the case. Frankly, that was a difficult magical potion for us to swallow, and it hindered the combined big picture – which, after all, is how Escape Authority always rates a game.
Knights of the Round Table is a good game. And while it may not be among our favorites, there’s simply no shame in being called good. It’s not a term we toss around lightly. The even more important point here is that LA Dragon Studios seems to be following exactly the path they should through the enchanted woods – by embracing the fact that this game is even more appealing to a younger family audience than a hardcore enthusiast. Embracing that demographic, rather than trying to be yet another “edgy, adult” game in the already over-saturated LA market truly can set them apart, and for that audience, I have little doubt they will walk away with anything but their own Happily Ever After.
Venue: LA Dragon Studios
Location: Van Nuys, California
Number of Games: 1
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 7 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $45 per person for up to two people (prices vary for each additional player.)
We thank LA Dragon Studios for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.