The Legend of Zelda themed Escape Room? It’s not like the usual Escape Room we’ve all come to know and love. Be prepared for what happens when an Escape Room and a Pub Quiz have a baby…
It’s easy enough to sell themed events to Zelda and or Nintendo fans. They are more than willing to support the brand no matter what shape the product takes. Special Edition item? They’ll buy it. Limited run concert? It’ll sell out. Is this another way to make easy money from the fans? Well Yes and No.
There was a discount for buying a full team (6 players) in advance. On the day players could upgrade their package if they wished and there was also limited edition pins to be purchased, which makes a change from the merchandise being the same old poster and t-shirts combination.
This “Escape Game” as it likes to call itself, isn’t like any other escape room I had been to. For one thing, it was possible to purchase tickets individually rather than being locked into a team. The confusion started early though – a bit after I purchased my early bird ticket I was emailed to say that due to a glitch in the system my session was sold out and I would have to take another game slot. For the inconvenience I could have a free upgrade to the Gold Tier package which added a poster and commemorative coin for my booking troubles, and rebooking to the slot of my choice… except that was also full, so I ended up with my fourth choice of slot. Luckily I live in London, so I needed only to get the Tube at a different time. If I had booked flights over to this event, it would have been a different story. So far a mixed impression of the event.
The game can be played with teams of up to six people with smaller teams being mixed together on the day to make up the six. They did warn that only full groups of 6 arriving 30 minutes early could be guaranteed to be accommodated and that a five could be split into a two and a three, but none of this seemed to materialise. Staff on the door kept track using a very low tech but effective table checklist, marking player’s table numbers onto their venue badge. My team on the day ended up being five as the show wasn’t booked out.
The venue was a theatre which had the bottom audience chairs removed and in their place was a set up similar to a pub quiz. The venue had been kitted out with Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time theming, using very simple but very effective set design for all the areas. The tables were set up with a green table cloth, a folder which we were asked not to touch until the game began, a laminated copy of the house rules and a basket which displayed the table number. Once we introduced ourselves to our table teammates – we came as 3 – and broke the ice, the lights dimmed at the introduction to the game had begun.
There was a host for this game, dressed as the character Sheik, who eased players into the game and house rules before moving onto a projected short film. This short film was designed as a refresher into the Zelda universe and as an introduction to those that needed it. The film was made using footage from the game The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D with subtitled wording relating to the escape game. Once the film was over, our host told us that the 60 minutes to save Hyrule had just begun.
The puzzles in their game were all paper-based. As the tour is finished, we feel that it’s OK to mention that they involved:
- simple mathematics
- map puzzles
- character puzzles
- phyisics puzzles
- paper folding
- word decoding
- active encouragement to destroy game elements (including the house rules)
- sticker collection
These were varied enough and none of our team members felt like they were dead weight at any time. Simply can’t fault the puzzles as they were clever enough to slow us down but required no external knowledge or even any prior Zelda knowledge. Everything was used in the game and there was no red herrings. Some items were revisited as new materials were gathered during gameplay. Game flow was erratic at times, but pieces fell together like a jigsaw. This is a non-linear game which is a nice surprise as we were expecting a linear experience based on other online reviews.
There were times when the puzzles required the team to visit the different locations dotted around the room, generally to show a solution or get a new puzzle. The team had to travel together as per the house rules of the game. These locations were all lifted straight from Ocarina of time – Kokiri Village (it’s Kokiri Forest in the game, but good luck setting up a forest on a budget), Zora’s Domain, Goron City and the Temple of Time. Each area had a little tent-like temporary structure, themed entrance and actor dressed up like the member of the tribe, except for the Temple of Time which had a Gerudo. Big shout out to the Goron whose costume was designed to make it look like he had a beer belly (as Gorons have in the game). The interior of each area was bare-bones, having a required next piece of the game and a cardboard cut-out of that race’s character from the video game with written instructions of the room (which were already explained by the staff upon entering).
There were occasional issues with being a team of 5 when characters insisted all six of us needed to be present to carry on, and we had to explain over and over that we were all there. It could have got quite crowded if the venue was fuller.
Overall the theming, sets and costumes could be a bit more polished, however that would cause the ticket prices to launch Skyward [Sword]. As it is currently designed it is easy to move this set and bring on tour. Clear effort in set design, actors and game cutscene editing.
Our team won with about five minutes to spare.
Accessibility: Good for what it was.
Alerts: This is not an escape room, it is a shared group puzzle experience.
Capacity: We didn’t count but there was room for easily over 20 tables of 6.
Cost: Flat price per player of £29 early bird, £31 standard, or £34 on the door. For an extra £10 you could add a poster, or for £20 you got the poster and a commemorative coin. In our case we got the £20 add-on waived due to trouble with the booking.
Photo: With all the teams involved there were no individual photos but there were a number of backdrops where you could take your own.
Note: This game is now closed.