RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 10:00
An incomprehensible gypsy, a nervous and potentially possessed priest, and a geriatric ghost help us find out what happened to a little Parisian girl.
A hooded priest greeted us in the brightly lit and non-themed lobby of Enigma Escape Rooms. In a overly labored manner of speaking he told of a woman who lost her child in the early 1900s. Led to desperation, she began séance rituals in an attempt to contact her daughter. After the woman’s own disappearance rumors spread that an evil spirit was responsible and living within the walls of the seance parlor.
The priest tasked our group with investigating the séance parlor and looking for a reason for the woman’s vanishing. He also warned of demonic possessions, and was generally disturbed by the circumstances we would soon encounter. Although, it was difficult to take him seriously with his pleas coming in such an out of story world space.
Upon entering the room we were met by another actor. A gypsy woman with an impossible to place—and equally difficult to understand—accent. She gave another lengthy amount of story to the space, which I honestly could only comprehend a few words here and there of.
The course of the game does actually involve working to enact a ritual and there are several show scenes for players that one wouldn’t usually find in a typical escape room. However, the quality of the scenes leaves a lot to be desired either because of the actor’s abilities or technical issues with show effects.
This is a small game taking place in a single room divided by a curtain. A sitting area with wardrobe is in one half and the other holds a large séance table. Beyond a couple of knick-knacks laying around the space it feels under-dressed; especially for a game that primarily relies on discovery for its puzzle steps.
Even though I harped on the initial story pitch being given in the brightly lit lobby, the room of Séance itself has a good ambiance to it with period looking lamps and other lighting fixtures. During the séance show scene are several lighting, audio, and physical cues that were of a higher quality than I expected from Enigma. The show scenes weren’t without its stumbles though.
One moment has a video that plays out on a crystal ball. A cool effect, but the video itself was low quality and the audio system in the room made it incredibly difficult to understand what the character was saying. This information was important to the puzzle and the game master had to just repeat the important part to us.
One of the effects in the séance scene had a group member exclaiming, “Wow, look at all the lightning coming from the windows that aren’t in this room.” I’ll just let that one sink in for a minute.
Most of the gameplay here is simple find the hidden object to complete a set of items. The puzzles themselves were quite easy to solve once all the relevant materials were found, but finding everything quickly was a challenge for our group. Without the discovery issues we would have likely been out with an even quicker time as the game as very few puzzle steps.
Of course a game about séances needs a Ouja board that automatically spells out words. In this case the tech just did not function correctly. As if operated by a senior citizen, the planchette moved slowly from letter to letter, but managed to miss almost every single letter and land between two without a clear indication of what the letter should actually be. In one case it landed between an I and J and the gypsy woman writing down all the letters as they came in said, “We’ll just write down an H here.” It became a belabored chore to wait for the “spirits” to finish giving us their message since their message wasn’t even coming in clearly and we really would just be getting it straight from the Gypsy’s mouth.
There was also an issue with inputting the final answer to exit the room in which we knew the correct answer but there was no indication of what objects or steps were needed to succeed. It was an awkward few minutes of fumbling until we just stumbled upon the right way to do it.
Séance is an improvement over the first room we played at Enigma Escape Rooms, The Secret Temple, but it still exhibits several missteps. The game is shorter than it should be, integrates its show scenes with some clumsy tech, and doesn’t make good use of its two actors.
Both actors do mildly go beyond the common gamemaster in costume trope, but their purpose still is mostly in observing the game from a distance and occasionally jumping in with an attempt at a themed comment. The priest character was the more out of place of the two actors. He mainly just stood in the corner and only engaged us before the game started and for a brief instance in a confusing story beat during the final moments of the game. It was a wasted opportunity and from a financial standpoint doesn’t make sense to pay for two actors in the space if they aren’t active in the gameplay.
With refinement to some show elements and better integration of the game’s actors into the gameplay this could be a fun and more theatrically driven experience than the standard escape room fare. In its current form it feels underdeveloped.
Venue: Enigma Escape Rooms
Location: Los Angeles, California
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 45 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public and private available.
Cost: $32 per person or $230 for full room.