RATING: 4 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 9:08
For our next trick, we will escape from a room using nothing but our minds and wit!
The year is 1929. The greatest showman since Houdini is under suspicion of sabotage that caused the horrific death of his colleague and rival master illusionist. You and your fellow detectives are led down a path where illusion and reality blur. The maniacal magician knows you’re onto him.
He’s locked you in his magic parlor of trickery and there seems to be no way out. You must predict his next move and perform some magic of your own. You have 60 minutes before the curtain rises to unravel the clues and stop this maniac magician from making you and your team disappear … for good!
We’ve played our fair share of Houdini-themed rooms, but Master of Illusion takes on a much darker tone than we are used to. While the story certainly has us making contact with the spirit world, it’s not for the person – or reason – you might expect.
The narrative unfolds through various articles and voice overs, painting a picture of a magician gone mad; one who is less concerned with entertaining an audience, and more intent on making sure you never have the chance to learn his secrets.
This study is a large rectangular room that, thankfully, feels like anything but an office. Everything from the wood flooring to the red walls seems like a deliberate design choice of a magician, and the pale, crimson shadows that are cast by the chandelier and lamps only add to the feeling of mystery that surrounds us.
An assortment of items any established escape artist and magician would be expected to own can be found scattered around the room, such as a large trunk, a milk jug, and – oh yeah – a Goldin’s box (unfortunately, sawing Chris in half was not part of the game. Pity.)
Extreme Escape has also done a superb job at masking the windows of the room to keep them in-theme with the game, without letting the world outside view you like a rat stuck in a maze.
Compared to its more modern counterpart at Stone Oak (which includes games like The Lost Tomb), the Collonade location’s games are definitely in that “first generation of escape rooms” category. Let’s be clear, though: that’s not a bad thing, and we would never rate a game down because of it. That being said, Master of Illusion is a very lock-heavy game, and a lot of our time was spent attempting to figure out what code went to what lock.
There’s certainly a few tech elements to the room (which all greatly enhance it), but we ran into trouble with a few of them in not knowing that we had correctly solved the puzzle due to there not being a noise of some kind to alert us that something in the room had changed.
Despite these facts, Master of Illusion’s puzzles flow well together and feel organic to the room’s theme, taking the escape artist theme very seriously as we use cards, straight jackets and other tricks to solve the magician’s riddles.
Master of Illusion feels very much like a journey through time. Not only back in history, though, but also back to when escape rooms were new, simple, and fun. There’s large reveals without them seeming forced and enough puzzles to keep the entire group busy – yet focused on the same end goal. The story unfolds organically as the game progresses, layering up more and more urgency as you discover just what’s been going on behind the curtain.
Although we certainly enjoyed our second round of games at Extreme Escape a little more, make no mistake that Master of Illusion was still a very enjoyable game. There’s something about the simplicity of the room’s decor and puzzles that kept us intrigued and invested in the story being told. Fear not, we did indeed stop that dastardly magician’s maniacal plans, though I’m not going to tell you exactly what they were. After all, a magician never reveals his secrets.
Venue: Extreme Escape
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $30.99 per person