UPDATE. It had been months since we’d completed all of Escapism’s prior three rooms, The Ritual Room, Jungle Ransom, and Dr. Zylchov’s Laboratory. Ritual Room was really a lot of fun, and the first escape room for one of our kin. Once I’d learned that Escapism was opening two more rooms, I was looking forward to trying them. The Wizard’s Lair had a few design issues that made for a less-than-ideal experience. See below for the full review.
UPDATE: I’ve heard back from Escapism and they’ve made some adjustments and updates to their rooms. I talked to people who have gone through the rooms since our visit and they’ve confirmed these changes. It is good to see that Escapism takes the customer’s experience seriously and is interested in providing a great experience. Escapism also remains one of the few companies in Portland that provides private bookings as a standard practice, which is hard to find in U.S. escape rooms.
“A master wizard has spent the last several months cloistered in his hidden lair before finally vanishing completely. The old mage’s apprentice, suspicious and unwilling to trust anyone in the magical community, has contacted you in hopes you can help. Enter the dark chambers and work quickly to unravel the wizard’s secrets of alchemy. Will you be able to bring him back before it’s too late?.”
When we arrived, we were greeted by a “wizard,” who gave us the introduction. The themed acting was fine but went on a bit too long. It was a good 10-minutes before we finally got in the room. The wizard spent most of the time talking about magic, and only about 30-seconds telling us the usual instructions about not touching things with a “do not touch” sign. Having a themed introduction can be fun, especially for people who have never done an escape room. Finally, we got in.
My first complaint was that the room was too dark. I’m used to dark rooms, but since this was a late night booking, there was no light from the outside windows. This made things difficult to see. We had to resort to using our phone lights because the ‘lanterns’ in the room were too dim to see anything.
Another issue could have been solved if we were told not to take objects off the wall. Perhaps the wizard forgot about this during his endless chatter about magic. There were objects that were obviously clues that were moved around. Only at the end of the game were we told that we were not supposed to move these things.
There were a couple of red herrings, which I think are unnecessarily distracting. There is a lot of debate over red herrings in the escape room community, some people thinking it’s fair game.
My biggest complaint is that when lining things up they should be spot on, without wiggle room. This caused separate problems in two separate puzzles in this room. If something is supposed to line up to a number, it should line up to a number, and not fall in between those numbers. If something is supposed to line up to a letter, it should not fall in between two letters.
We knew what we were supposed to do. We were doing it. Unfortunately, we could not get an answer because the answer did not line up. In one puzzle, we just tried all the combinations, and eventually figured it out. With the second puzzle, it was more complicated, and we were not even sure which letters were which. It was difficult to tell if a letter was an H or an M or a W. We tried combination after combination, and eventually ran out of time. We were given more time, and still couldn’t get the puzzle to line up. We finally kept guessing until we got the right answer.
Cost: $90 for 2-5 people, $120 for 6-8, and $150 for 9-12 (I’d recommend 4-6)
Location: 910 NW Joy Ave, Portland, OR 97229 (Out near Beaverton)