RATING: 0 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 1:18
A franchised location of one of our favorite brands feels more like an bad cover band than a rightful member of an otherwise stellar chain!
Fox in a Box has never really been the go-to venue for immersive backstories or unique themes – but that has never stopped them before from delivering a top notch product. So alright – we’ll prove our worth by escaping someone’s library and office, for some reason?
I’m not entirely certain how this is going to qualify us to become international spies, but sure. Perhaps our next target is a nefarious librarian, to whom we must return a late book without incurring a fee?
Mr. Fox’s Secret Study exists between two rooms – the first a painfully plain “library” of mostly wasted space occupied solely by a large, room-sized book shelf that’s literally overflowing with dozens upon dozens of books – and not to step on the toes of the Puzzles section of this review, but be prepared to search through every single one of those books in one of the most tedious discovery phases you’ll ever see. A not-so-secret secret passage sits, unlocked for some reason, granting access to Mr. Fox’s private and once-highly-secure-but-not-at-all-secure-today office.
We actually assumed the game must not have been reset properly, because why would the secret hidden door not be locked? We actually picked up the radio and asked that very question, because to us it’s important that we play through a room as designed, even if something is left unlocked by mistake. As it turns out, the door was supposed to be open, regardless of its present-yet-unused magnetic lock. And as for why? Because.
Once in the legendary office of the renowned Mr. Fox, we find… well, not very much. A desk, another shelf and a chair, and a whole lot of plain, solid orange colored walls capped with a drop panel ceiling. Little to no attempt was made to dress the space to have any sort of character that would make it an identifiable world to anyone who had not prior read this game’s non–story on their website – and even for those who have, it’s a stretch.
What the hell? Is this really a Fox in a Box game?!
“Again though, even with the blandest of themes, Fox in a Box as a brand has proven to us that puzzles are where they shine – creating clever, original and intuitive tech-driven gags that really draw players into the storyworld.”
I said to myself repeatedly in hopes of finding some solace destined to never come in this otherwise abysmal experience.
Mr. Fox’s Secret Study had literally not one single redeeming quality. And the truth of the matter is it actually makes me sad to say that, because I myself am a huge fan of the Fox in a Box brand.
While the others offer strong gameplay experiences full of clever puzzles, this game felt like just one poorly laid out logic leap after another. At its best, making connections in its puzzles were major stretches – and it its worst those connections were just not even remotely there, and, as we were told, you “should just know.”
From start to finish, Mr. Fox’s Secret Study was the antithesis of what we look for in a game’s puzzles; they were not intuitive, they were not logical, they did not connect in any real way to the storyworld, and unquestionably worst of all, they were not even fun.
We’ve certainly seen venues that, generally speaking, are bad – but can have one really decent game that sort of stands out above the pile as their diamond in the rough. Unfortunately for us, Mr. Fox’s Secret Study is the stark contrast to that notion. It’s impossible to imagine that a brand we have reviewed four other times, each time well earning a 5 key rating would follow up with a 0, but here we are.
The simple truth is we gave serious thought to simply walking out before our time was complete, abandoning the game forever. At the time, there was only one other game in the hundreds I’ve personally played that made me feel that way. That’s how bad this one is.
But would you believe me if I told you that the terrible gameplay actually was not the worst part of our experience at Fox in a Box’s Orange County venue? Because it wasn’t.
When we arrived, the staff seemed enthusiastic and welcoming. It’s the kind of first impression I always hope to find at a new venue, because there’s few things in the hospitality world that are more important than guest service. Unfortunately for Fox in a Box – Orange County, their contractor has apparently provided them with paper thin walls.
And how do these two things connect? Because throughout our 59 minutes of frustration, we were treated to the crystal clear sound of the employees literally trash talking us nearly the entire time. Things like “Wow, these guys are really stupid” and, perhaps my favorite, “Luckily it doesn’t matter what they think of our game because all of our Yelp reviews are 5 Stars anyway,” to which the other replied, “Yeah, who really cares what they think.”
Well, let’s just find out who cares what we think, shall we?
Fox in a Box – Orange County is without a doubt the most unprofessionally run venue we’ve ever encountered. Avoid them at all costs.
Luckily for Southern California locals, a Fox in a Box home base location exists just up the road in Los Angeles, and their top notch quality games are run by an even higher quality professional and welcoming staff that frankly would be embarrassed if they had any idea how poorly their brand is being represented barely an hour away.
Venue: Fox in a Box – Orange County
Location: Fullerton, California
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $99+ for 2-3 people (Price varies by group size, minimum 2)
We thank Fox in a Box – Orange County for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.