Live Escape (Fortune Teller Room, Nursery Nightmares, Study of Secrets)

Room(s) visited Fortune Teller Room, Nursery Nightmares, Study of Secrets
Decor A concerted effort was made to make the rooms look like their themes.
Theming Mostly none. Some in the Fortune Teller Room
Puzzle Design Poor across all rooms visited so far.
Customer Service Good. One of the owners was very friendly.
Overall As it stands, I don’t recommend this facility. They are located close to me, and I really wanted to like them, but their priorities don’t seem to be in the right place. The incident with leaving a puzzle from a previous version of the room left a particularly sour taste in my mouth.

Live Escape
113 Montezuma Trail
Toronto, ON M1V 1H8
Cross Street: Brimley Rd. and Finch Ave.
Rooms: 4
Group Size: Fortune Teller Room (2-5), Alice Room (2-5), Nursery Nightmares (4-8), Study of Secrets (???)
Game Time: 45 minutes
Price: $30.00/Person Weekends, $25.00/Person Weekdays ($5 discount for Facebook check-in)
Phone Number: 1-855-561-367

The Fortune Teller Room is a small room. Maybe 7 feet by 7 feet. The theme is novel, and the decor matches. The same puzzle type was repeated within the room. I’m not really a fan of that. I’m not a fan of the overall room design either. There was a puzzle placed in the game to make it ‘easier’ to solve the first puzzle. That doesn’t really make sense. It added an extra superfluous puzzle. It was also made such that if could solve the extra puzzle, you could have solved the ‘first’ puzzle, making it unnecessary and adding further confusion to the room.

Nursery Nightmares was a bit different. The room is larger. The decor is generically creepy, and the atmosphere is somewhat reminscent of a haunted house. That is definitely the effect they’re going for. I’m not a fan of the puzzles in this room. Once again, I had a puzzle type that was more or less identical to one I had previously done in the Fortune Teller Room. I don’t like it when the same puzzle-types are repeated across different rooms at a facility. It seems a little lazy to me, and at the very least it seems indicative of the owners not really being puzzle fans.
What really annoyed me was when I had discovered a ‘puzzle’ at some point. It was hidden, and filled with numbers, and I wracked my brain as to where to use it. Apparently it was part of a puzzle from a previous iteration/version of the game, and contributed nothing to the game. Well, okay then.

I didn’t really have good reason to come back, but I decided to give Study of Secrets a shot. I am even less a fan of the puzzle design in this room. The same puzzle type definitely showed up again. Three times across three rooms, so I’m definitely going to go with lazy. The individual puzzles were okay, but I don’t think particularly well thought out. For example, one puzzle referenced a TV show (that I happened to be a fan of), but it’s been off the air for a couple of years. That seems like a strange thing to use as a clue. I’m actually curious as to how they came up with that. The overall puzzle design to the room was where it really hurt. I’ve talked about linear sequential rooms, as opposed to open designs where you have access to many puzzles at once. There are both positives and negatives to both approaches. The problem is that if you decide to mix up the two, you have to do it carefully and put considerable thought into it. I don’t feel like that was the case here. There were some strong sequential parts of the game, but you also had access to a considerable amount of puzzles that you might need later. The room also taught you to search thoroughly, but punished you for doing so as well. Confusing design.

I can’t really prove it, of course, but I get the impression that maybe the proprietors of Live Escape (like many others) went to the old ESC-IT from a year ago, and said to themselves, “We can do better”. And in some respects, they did. Some of their props are definitely nicer. In my opinion, they didn’t put in work where it was really required – making games that make sense. The owners seem friendly, but that’s certainly not enough to make a sustainable escape room business.

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