RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 9:49
The Skunk Ape is real – and so is the hype that surrounds this game!
During the summer of 1984, you are in park ranger training at Cabbage Lake State Park. During the park’s event, something was stolen. It’s up to you to find the missing item and get all campers to safety due to approaching heavy storms. You discover there’s a mysterious protector in the park- the lurking Skunk Ape- and he’s quite upset with the thieves. Maybe you can join forces with this odd creature to accomplish your mission?
Ah, Cabbage Lake State Park – home of several species of creature assumed to be, well, imaginary. But they’re not. And now as Junior Assistant Park Rangers (In Training) we’re about to learn that first hand.
That thing that was stolen? It wasn’t just a pocket knife or ranger’s hat. It was something far more rare; far more… mythical. And far more important to the survival of an entire species. Now it’s on us to venture into the woods, at night, during a thunderstorm to get it back. You know, without finishing our Park Ranger training.
Oh yeah, and in this forest, the shadows are teeming with Skunk Apes, so there’s that. (For those unfamiliar, “Skunk Ape” is a south-eastern regional term for “Bigfoot.”)
But are these creatures monsters, or friends?
Shadows of the Skunk Ape’s story begins BEFORE we even step foot inside the game space, with a fully a dedicated pre-show room themed to the Welcome Center of Cabbage Lake Park’s Ranger Station. It’s here that we learn more about these legendary creatures, as well as the nefarious individuals pillaging the camp, and just what they stole. From there, we step into the Ranger’s Cabin, and every single second that follows is a fully immersive, entirely story-driven adventure that ultimately leads to a cinematic-quality narrative climax.
Convening before the game begins, we find ourselves, as mentioned above, in the Welcome Center of Cabbage Lake State Park’s Ranger Station. Park maps line the walls, including one that illustrates the known locations of mythical creatures all across the country. Skunk Ape artifacts and relics – from hair to footprint castings and more are displayed in glass cases.
Our adventure truly begins once we enter the Park Rangers’ Cabin. Wooden walls and floors surround as to be expect, creaking under both our footsteps and the winds of the approaching storm. The space feels authentic – and used, as though it has been a functioning Ranger’s Station for decades. It’s full of exactly what you’d expect to find “if it were real” – Ranger uniforms, camping supplies and the like.
A locked screen door separates us from the shadowy woods and impending storm – and the Skunk Ape itself. But if brave enough to venture out, Junior Rangers will find an abandoned camp site as the lone flickering glow in the eerie blue moonlight – beyond ominous flashes of lightning in the distance.
Our final shelter awaits within an old, run down storage shed – stocked to the gills with outdoor supplies – from oars, nets and fishing poles to the chum used to bait them. One quick look at the condition of this place and we’re immediately filled with doubts that it could ever provide sanctuary against the attack of a mythical beast. Let’s hope we don’t need it.
Rabbit Hole Escape Games impressed us in a way we don’t often find throughout the course of Shadows of the Skunk Ape. Every. Single. Puzzle. Was deeply, richly integrated within the storyworld in such a way that it was very clearly a necessary step in completing our mission.
And moreover, puzzle styles evolved to perfectly match the space they exist within. While in the Rangers’ Cabin, our tasks focused more on maps and collecting supplies. In the woods, we were left to put our survival skills to the test in a clever mix of classic campfire games and Boy Scout-style preparations. The old shack appropriately gives a far more gritty, desperate tone to its tasks – many of which are more physical in nature.
Every single step flows smoothly from one to the next, and each deliver a very satisfying progression. Perhaps even better, each puzzle builds toward a storyworld finale wherein you not only save the day by recovering the aforementioned stolen legendary object, but may you may just walk away with stories of your very own Skunk Ape encounter!
Let’s start by addressing the eight hundred pound mythical gorilla in the room; it’s no legend that we were not the biggest of fans for Rabbit Hole Escape Game’s original two rooms. To understand that – in part – is to know a bit of the history of this venue as well; Rabbit Hole Escape Games’ original location carried many landlord-imposed restrictions that complicated plans of executing their vision to the degree they would have liked.
However, the venue has recently moved to a brand new location, wherein they literally wiped the slate clean of their initial games and quite literally rebooted their brand. Combine that with several years of operating experience, the tricks you organically learn along the way and the simple fact that the nature of design typically means each new game is inherently better than the one before it and you know you have a recipe for something special.
Simply put, Rabbit Hole Escape Games went from being a venue we never really talked about to the home of what might just be our favorite game in Florida. Shadows of the Skunk Ape is an immersive, interactive, inventive adventure that instantly makes you the star. Its unique theme and original, story-driven gameplay make it a breath of fresh air – not just for Rabbit Hole Escape Games – but for the Central Florida market as a whole.
Venue: Rabbit Hole Escape Games
Location: Tampa, Florida
Number of Games: 2
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Can be booked as either Public or Private / You may or may not be paired with strangers depending upon your choice.
Cost: $29 per person (public) or $34 per person (private)