RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: +1:30
Wild Bill may have had a Dead Man’s Hand, but Wild West is all Aces for Escape Thrill.
It’s August 2, 1876, you’re in a saloon in Deadwood located in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory. “Wild Bill” Hickok – gunfighter, gambler and lawman, has just been shot dead from behind while playing poker by an unsuccessful gambler, Jack McCall.
McCall, better known as “Crooked Nose Jack,” fled the saloon, but not before locking everyone in. You must escape in time to apprehend McCall before he flees town and see justice is done.
I knew enough about the story of Wild Bill to make the scene completely recognizable, and easy to become immersed into.
Walking in to the room, it’s unmistakably an old western saloon. The far end of the room houses a bar, complete with a whiskey cabinet behind. In the foreground, a table clearly set for a poker game that unexpectedly came to an end.
The walls were lined with vintage-style wallpaper, trimmed with a wainscoting base, evoking the mood of a by-gone era.
A large, rustic chandelier and run-down candles light the space while further setting the mood.
The flat screen monitor on the wall – a necessary evil in these themed games to deliver preshow and time countdown – was well concealed to scenically appear at first glance as a framed portrait.
The wooden floors and grain textures throughout even make this space small authentic.
Wild West gives players multiple options for where to begin, each leading to its own milestone achievement – one of five unique locks on the final chest. This method makes the gameplay a bit less linear, while also allowing more teammates equal opportunity to be solving things without ever feeling left out.
The puzzles fit well with both the scenic and the story. Nothing felt obtrusive to the old west atmosphere.
Several steps are highly tech driven in some fairly unique ways, but that tech itself is basically invisible to the player – making things happen in what feels like a natural way within the storyworld.
One of the more physical puzzles did feel a bit repetitive (you had to essentially complete it several times – though to be fair, it is intended for a larger group size) and overall, it felt out of place in the story setting. Beyond that small hiccup though, Wild West truly excels at story-driven game play.
Overall, Wild West is one of my favorite games of all that I’ve played. Escape Thrill really put effort into making sure everything “worked” – not just technically, but in a story sense. It all makes sense.
The story works. The puzzles connect to the era – while staying completely intuitive to the player.
Perhaps the biggest positive in a long list is that their games are consistently good. We played their three original games back to back to back and enjoyed every single one of them, putting Escape Thrill on a really short list of Central Florida venues that are just simply must-see.
It should also be noted that our +1:30 escape time is a result of some truly fantastic customer service. We visited on a slower day early in the venue’s operation, and they were quick to invite us to finish out the game, free of charge just to get the full experience. Now that’s how you do it!
Escape Thrill’s staff is very friendly, and was very interested in our feedback. This proves they’re very open to growing and getting better all the time – even if we thought they’re already one of the best venues in all of Central Florida!
Venue: Escape Thrill
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person