RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 6:25
Who knew time could move so slowly inside of a clock tower?
Something has gone wrong with the mechanical gears and springs of The Clock Tower. Now the timekeeper is trapped, and your team of up to eight players must travel through the future and the past to save him. Each piece of the puzzle you find brings you closer to your timely escape.
The Clock Tower has one of the most compelling stories of all of games at Escape The Room. However, that is not saying a whole lot. Unlike most of the company’s rooms, there is at least a reason for you to be there solving puzzles – the timekeeper needs you to fix his machine.
It is not clear why you only have sixty minutes. Perhaps he will be lost in time forever? Or maybe he’s just an impatient old man?
The initial room is small, albeit impressively designed. It looks and feels like the inside of an old clock tower. The red brick walls are worn, and there are many bronze gadgets laying across a couple tables. There are even a homages to time travel classics such as Back to the Future and Doctor Who. All of the gadgets have various knobs, switches, and buttons on them, which entice exploration – after all, who hasn’t pressed all the buttons on a elevator before?
The inner chamber of The Clock Tower has the same worn red brick walls as the first. However, there is more space to spread out. The center of the room has a raised area with a bunch of gears and closed bronze chambers waiting for us to figure out how to open.
One wall has a large transparent clock on it with the numbers written in mirror-image to give the feeling of actually being inside of a working clock tower. As if the large clock mounted on the wall is not enough, there is an antique grandfather clock standing on the floor right next to it. Throughout the room, there are also tiny hourglasses of various colors. The time motif is never forgotten in The Clock Tower.
The final room of The Clock Tower has a slightly different feel from the rest of the game. The walls and surfaces still use similar worn red brick materials. However, the room lacks timepieces and gears. Instead, there are orbs representing a few of the planets around the sun. After all, time is relative to the rotation of planets – I’m assuming that is how the planets are relevant to the story. One wall is adorned with a furnace. Perhaps the clock tower is steam powered?
The Clock Tower is immersive if you merely focus on the set. Unfortunately, escape rooms need compelling puzzles as well, and this is where the room ultimately falls somewhat flat. The flow felt disjointed, and it seemed like The Clock Tower never quite knew which direction it wanted to take with the story.
The first room had several devices and gadgets all relating to time in some fashion. It was not clear what the objective to a couple of the puzzles were, and the hints our game master provided were sometimes just as cryptic as the objectives within the room. A couple of the props that were first fun to play with quickly turned into frustration. It becomes increasingly difficult to find the solution to a puzzle when your time is spent just trying to figure out the question.
As we made our way deeper into The Clock Tower, the puzzles became more interesting – more in concept than in practice. There were a couple puzzles that we accidentally solved, which muddled the flow of the game. The activities in this area related more to the narrative than the rest of the experience. There were gears, springs, and tools that went from being old to new in a clever way.
As an enjoyable story moment, one puzzle even lead to our team receiving contact by the trapped Timekeeper. We were finally helping to fix this old, rusty clock tower!
The final set of puzzles seemed out of place and did not relate to the overall story. There was a paper clue that was not intuitive to our team, and had to be explained by the game master a couple of times before we understood it – convoluted to say the least. The final puzzle was anti-climatic to the point we did not even realize we had solved it.
The Clock Tower is one of the better rooms at Escape The Room. The story gives you a reason to be there, which isn’t true of all of the company’s games.
The set design is what really shines. The walls are properly worn to give an aged feel, and there are several bronze devices throughout the game that look like time travel gadgets – if such a thing were to actually exist.
A few of the puzzles directly correlate to the narrative presented at the beginning of the game. There are some clever ways that the old devices are turned into new ones, and there are visual and audio clues from the Timekeeper himself.
What really made the hands of the Clock Tower spin backwards for us was the fact that a majority of the puzzles did little to make us feel like they we were taking an active role in repairing The Clock Tower or freeing the Timekeeper. With some aspects notably story-driven, we wish Escape The Room kept ticking forward rather than filling in gaps with puzzles for puzzles sake.
Venue: Escape The Room
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Number of Games: 6
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person
We thank Escape the Room for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.