Escape Authority

In-Depth Escape Room Reviews

Review: The Secret Temple

RATING: 1 Key          RESULT: Loss          REMAINING: X:XX

Hyped promises of “high tech” and “high quality” turn out to be broken promises that accompany one of the worst hours we’ve spent inside an escape room. But at least the owner had time to catch up on his text messaging.

Story

Enigma tells an interesting-enough story to set up The Secret Temple. We find ourselves entangled in the mysteries of the oldest, most protected secret society on Earth.

Its keepers have guarded their secrets for centuries and passed them through generations in their clandestine ritual meetings. We’re a team of reporters tasked to find their secret temple and uncover the enigma they’ve been guarding for millenniums.

Interesting enough. It got us through the door.

Unfortunately once you’re inside the game, little of that story is actively evident.

Scenic

The Secret Temple’s scenic is bare-bones basic. The first of two rooms – the one in which you will spend the majority of the game feels a space that could exist in your house (assuming your house is sparsely decorated.)

It’s basic, with minimal furniture and dressings – a book shelf, some end tables and a couch apparently comfortable enough for the owner to sit on while you play, text messaging and playing mobile games the entire time.

More on that later.

I promise.

The second room, the actual aforementioned “secret temple” itself feels anything but. As much a secret temple as your childhood pile of pillows was a fort – be sure to bring your imagination as well as your patience to survive this one.

Puzzles

 Now, puzzles is the one area where The Secret Temple truly shines…

…a massive spotlight on all of its glaringly evident flaws.

Game play steps in The Secret Temple were so convoluted and poorly thought through that as a player there’s no point in even putting effort forth. Countless logic leaps the size of mighty canyons lay in wait to suck down the souls of players seeking to learn this temple’s secret.

Let’s talk just a few examples, shall we? Take a very common puzzle found in dozens of escape rooms out there where you use a decoder card/key of some sort to decipher symbols found in the room, translating them to letters or numbers to give you a code to open something. Pretty straight forward, right? Sure!

Except in The Secret Temple, when the symbols in the room don’t even match symbols on the decoder.

Upon giving that feedback to the owner, I was told “I should just know they are the same.”

Sorry – but if you’re going to run a business like an escape room that is so dependent on fact checking and attention to detail, you need to do it correctly. This flaw alone was inexcusable, but was far from the only one.

Another poorly designed puzzle has you learning near the end of the game that you literally cannot continue, because you did not document where you physically found clues at the start of the game?

I’m sorry – but that’s just not a thing.

Every escape room starts with what can be called the “Discovery Phase”-  where players search the room for various clues, locks, keys and puzzles to then determine their starting point to progress on their adventure. And here, it was worse than just *where* you found them – mind you. Some actually expected you to remember the direction the clue was facing when you found it, or which side of a card was facing up, etc.

That’s asinine.

If you want to do something like that – and you shouldn’t ever want to – then you need to communicate with players before the game starts that they should always be mindful of the original state of all objects in the room.

Enigma gave no such advice.

There’s a reason why nearly no other escape room does this sort of thing: it’s terrible game design, pure and simple.

Overall

Enigma’s The Secret Temple is unquestionably one of the worst-designed games we’ve ever seen – but the one thing possibly even worse than the design here is the way the owners run the place.

One of the owners offered to be our in-room game master. Though he was meant to be there to help us with hints along the way, he instead sat on a couch in the room, texting and playing games on his phone the entire time. There were moments where we had asked for a hint to something and he didn’t even know what step we were on because he was paying so little attention to us. We would then have to use our game time, which we paid for to catch *him* up to speed, just to get that hint which we had asked for now several minutes ago.

This type of thing would be unacceptable for an employee to do. It’s unimaginable coming from an owner.

We’re told that Enigma has since added “actors” into their rooms – though received a similar report from one of our readers that their “actor” spent the hour on the couch texting as well.

After our game, the owner did ask us to share our feedback – something I’m always happy to do win, lose or draw, whether I loved or hated a game. I believe it’s important to help things grow for the benefit of future players.

I suppose after everything else we experienced here, I should not be surprised that the owner would actually go out of his way to try to start a fight with us over the feedback he requested we give him.

I was told “200-300 other groups have figured it out without any problem what so ever!” I respectfully replied that I cannot comment on what other groups allegedly did or did not do because obviously I was not present to witness it – but from my direct volume of personal experience in this genre of entertainment, it’s not an intuitive or logical way to set up the game. It was clear that the owner was trying to minimize my experience with padded “fluff” stats that he knew no one could ever verify.

This is around the time the owner became argumentative with me, and interrupted me at any point I tried to reply by literally shouting over me. I did not offer feedback unsolicited. I was directly asked to share any positives or negatives I may feel once my game is over after the owners had heard other games we’d already played.

They implored me to be honest, even saying I “won’t hurt their feelings.”

I simply ended that conversation by saying “You asked me for my feedback. If you were not interested or not willing to accept my feedback for whatever reason, that is completely ok, but please give us both the respect of not wasting my time or yours by asking for it.”

Enigma Escape Rooms absolutely screams unprofessional on every level. Avoid these games. There’s lots of great ones in LA – in fact some within near walking distance. If you’re in the area, we highly recommend paying a visit to Roomescape Los Angeles instead.

Venue Details

Venue:  Enigma Escape Rooms

Location: Los Angeles, California

Number of Games: 4

GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 8 people

Group Type: Public  / You may be paired with strangers.

Cost: $30 per person

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Summary
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Enigma - The Secret Temple
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