RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 29:55
Even voodoo couldn’t keep this venue in business for more than a few months.
Locked within a mysterious tent, players must find the secrets of a Voodoo Priestess and break the curse holding them inside. Or at least that’s what the official description of the room says is the goal…
In practice, the room doesn’t have a narrative for players to follow beyond just being in a Caribbean-styled, voodoo paraphernalia strewn, thatch-covered hut.
This limited narrative setup is somewhat par for the course with PanIQ Room. Generally, the themes for their escape rooms inform scenic decoration but don’t actually carry over into a narrative thread with a story to uncover. There’s not in-world documents or characters to connect with. It’s just a basic scenario to give context to the puzzle theming.
The Voodoo Shop is a unique concept that we haven’t seen before and really could expand out to an interesting story. In this case, it doesn’t.
For a mid-tier game, the scenic is of an acceptable quality. There’s an effort put forth to disguise the square box nature of the space with an added room and a generous amount of burlap and thatching to cover the walls and ceiling.
Props a plenty are scattered around the space. Musical instruments, spices, trinkets from potentially unsavory places. These mostly all become elements used within puzzle steps, so they serve a dual purpose.
Scenic lighting and a themed atmospheric audio track add an additional layer of detail to the game room. Although the speakers are cheaply mounted and wiring is exposed. I don’t think that was part of the Voodoo Priestess’ interior design of her shop…
PanIQ Room games can be a mixed bag on the puzzle front. While almost always providing enjoyable gameplay experiences they often shoe-horn in unrelated maze-tables or dexterity puzzles that do not fit within the theme.
The majority of the Voodoo shop puzzles fit within the story world, and in one case actually made a maze-table work within a story context by integrating tarot cards in a clever way. Unfortunately, the UV flashlight gag to find a four digit code on a mini-jigsaw-style puzzle didn’t connect in any way.
In a few moments, we tried to make some seemingly sensor driven puzzles activate, only to discover there were not any sensors and we were instead performing a useless action—trying to make magic happen where there was none.
This issue stems from a perception problem that develops over time from playing many games and seeing different pieces of tech. In a key instance, we recovered several large pins from one voodoo doll. We were convinced the next puzzle use for these pins involved the large voodoo doll stuck to the wall, but instead, it was an element used for an entirely unrelated “maze-table” like puzzle. It’s not necessarily the fault of the game that we expected it ask something more of us, but we would have liked a challenge beyond the standard lock and key, maze-table combination.
This San Diego branch of the PanIQ Room chain had a short lived, less than six month, lifespan. The reasons for its closure aren’t entirely clear.
Voodoo Shop took a little-done theme and presented a passable attempt. The positive merits laid more in the engaging and quick flowing gameplay than in the creation of a believable story world, but often it’s that cycle of puzzle discovery and solution that leads to the “escape room rush.” The rush is a fleeting feeling that doesn’t always create the lasting impact a more story driven and immersive experience can bring. We also completed this game with almost half the time remaining—among our fastest completion times—and not because we blew through every puzzle. The amount of content in the game was just minimal.
There’s also a PanIQ Room fatigue that can set in after playing several of their games. Many maze table types are repeated between venues, and even the presence of a maze table at all is frustrating. For PanIQ Room to last in the long term they’ll need to move beyond these more basic forms of puzzles and into the next level of scenarios utilizing the skill they already show in creating fun escape rooms.
Venue: PanIQ Room San Diego
Location: San Diego, California
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: This venue has permanently closed.