RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 2:48
With Sherlock missing so often, why aren’t they writing novels about my crime-solving abilities?
Look, I cannot stress enough how tired and overused this theme is. Sherlock’s missing. You’re his accomplice / assistant / friend and you need to solve the kidnapping / robbery / murder because, for some reason, he’s otherwise indisposed.
It’s not a theme that does a room any favors, and there’s no exception here. That’s not to say there are no good Sherlock Holmes themed rooms in existence, but utilizing a story that essentially lets you skip the work involved in an original plot is never going to gain your venue any positive notoriety. If anything, it makes me question why I would want to play that particular game over the hundreds of others with unique themes that I’ve haven’t seen multiple times before.
Despite the time-worn Sherlock Holmes theme, Escape Effect does a fairly decent job of transforming this space into a believable study. The famous detective’s notes are pinned to the walls, some of his favorite items are prominently on display (and featured in puzzles), and the entire crime board is in plain sight, ready for you to solve this murder most foul.
There are, of course, some glaring discrepancies, such as a hallway full of pictures that feels like it belongs in an art gallery more than a famous detective’s home. One idea might be to tie these back to actual Sherlock Holmes mysteries so that players aren’t left scratching their heads about when this sleuth decided to become a museum curator.
There’s scarcely anything in Sherlock Studies that doesn’t feel like a puzzle for puzzle’s sake. While the overarching goal is to solve a well-crafted murder mystery, you’ll have to solve crossword puzzles and rearrange scrabble tiles to collect all the evidence you’ll need.
There would be no legitimate reason why Sherlock Studies needs to be a 75 minute room if some of the time sink tasks weren’t there. Perhaps worse than the crossword puzzle was the fact that I was provided with codes to not one, but two locks only to find the next combination glued down inside of the drawer.
The final mystery is, thankfully, a great culmination of your efforts, but might come across as rather convoluted to the average player. Over the course of your search of the room, you’ll find several newspaper clippings and articles that will help you solve the case… and every single one of them will need to be skimmed for vital information that will aid you in uncovering the crime. While putting the pieces together is certainly exciting, the amount of reading required to discover the clues you’ll need borders on excessive.
After an original story like At Odds With the Gods, Sherlock Studies simply doesn’t live up to the brand that Escape Effect is trying to create. As was noted in that previous review, there are no shortage of issues in the design choices The Escape Effect makes, and they are all recreated here with equal vigor.
While their ability to create a quasi-believable and immersive environment shouldn’t be questioned, deciding on a Sherlock Holmes inspired room immediately crippled any potential this murder mystery might have had. It’s old, it’s tired, and unless the mystery is straight out of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel it could have been any other theme and instantly been ten times more exciting.
Where The Escape Effect most needs to improve, however, are its puzzles. While the final mystery is undoubtedly exciting to solve, the mundane tasks leading up to it are, in some cases, things that I could find and do at home if I chose to. When I go to an escape room, I don’t want to just escape from a room. I want to escape from reality. Unfortunately, a crossword puzzle does nothing to help in that desire, nor does it do anything to help set this venue apart from the dozens of other games just down the road.
With the addition of Sherlock Studies, The Escape Effect has further cemented its middle-ground status in the Orlando market. There is certainly a glimmer of potential in every room they open, but there are many mistakes to correct if they truly wish to polish their product for the competitive Orlando escape room market.
Venue: The Escape Effect
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 75 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $37 per person