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Review: The Return of the Magician

RATING: 5 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 00:48

There’s magic in the air at one of Orange County’s most unique venues! Just try not to get mauled by the bear.


After a long hiatus, The Magician has returned to the stage. Join us and book your tickets to find out just exactly why he was named Magician of the Year three times in a row! This comeback performance will be exclusively shown only at UNLOCKED Productions Theater. His magic and illusions will free your mind…

Unlocked crafts a truly original storyworld for us in The Return of the Magician. We step into a classic theater in anticipation of the heralded return of one of the world’s most famous magicians, only to learn things may not go exactly according to plan.

Strapped in straight jackets and chained to the wall in a backstage dressing room, we must channel our own inner Houdini to find a way to break free and ensure the show goes on as planned. Along the way, some truly enchanting surprises await players in this wondrous world where not all may be as it seems.


Though a bit modest, The Return of the Magician’s scenic is entirely believable. Starting in the venue’s lobby itself, our experience clearly began well before the clock started ticking. We find ourselves in the theater’s box office, where we naturally check in at the ticket window. From there, we’re whisked (and trapped) into a dark backstage area before we break free to get the first taste of true magic when the Magician’s private dressing room materializes right before our very eyes.

Within this larger space are many authentic-flavored magic tricks, from a case of swords to a box suitable for sawing a lovely assistant in half. This attention to detail is no coincidence – as one of Unlocked’s owner-designers has an actual professional magician background!

There’s magic in everything we touch, creating wonder and whimsy that may even transport us to an unseen fantastical world.

Modest or not, The Return of the Magician surprised us on more than one occasion!


Unlocked put clear effort into designing the flow of puzzles in this game in such a way that it is both logical and intuitive, while also firmly rooted within the storyworld. Every step we took felt as though we were in the middle of performing our own personal magic act – and in many cases, that’s because we were manipulating those actual magical props throughout the room in much the way they’d be utilized on stage.

The magical nature of the game’s steps added a sense of realism that kept us deeply rooted within the storyworld from the moment we were strapped into straight jackets. (Something we’re oddly comfortable with at this stage of our lives.)

The narrative flow was compelling and satisfying, with each step building toward the climax – which, naturally, saw the long awaited Return of the Magician himself.


Unlocked currently has but one single game – but its grand scale encompasses nearly the majority of their venue. Large open spaces compliment secret doors and hidden chambers to really provide a satisfying sense of discovery. The game flows at a steady pace, never really stumping players to the point of frustration, yet always providing just the right level of difficulty that was engaging to our very experienced group, while would still be a welcoming challenge to newer guests.

The Return of the Magician proves you don’t need to have a million dollar budget to pull off some truly magical surprises. As simple as some of these moments are when looking behind the scenes with a designer’s eye, even I found myself pausing to say “wow!” at their execution in the moment.

Most importantly, we had fun – and a lot of fun at that. I realize that seems like something that should simply come with the territory, so to speak – but The Return of the Magician left us smiling from the start right down to the wire for our finish with just seconds to spare; satisfied enough so that it truly stood out against much of what we’ve played across the Orange County market.

So, dear reader, I leave you with but one question: Does Unlocked have the best photo props in the history of ever, or did I just bring that from home?

Venue Details

Venue:  Unlocked

Location: Irvine, California

Number of Games: 1


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 8 people

Group Type: Private  / You will not be paired with strangers.

Cost: $30 per person (all tickets must be booked together)

Escape Authority readers save 10% Monday through Thursday using code EAmagic


EAR Disclaimer

We thank Unlocked for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.

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