Real & Wild Entertainment, Breckenridge, CO
#114, Won, $30/person
Team Bluefish was super excited to play the “Carnival” escape room at Real & Wild Entertainment, because it sounded like a really interesting theme. In fact, this was one of the few times in recent memory where we hadn’t really come across the theme previously.
As you might have guessed, this room is based at a carnival. The twist, though, is that this carnival is rumored to be hiding a notorious outlaw; a gangster who is posing as the carnival’s “Bearded Lady”. The show has just started, and you’ve got 60 minutes to find incriminating evidence.
You can get that story through the website before you book a game, but the question is whether the game can deliver on the promise of an interesting initial story. The answer is: sometimes.
The initial set is really cool, and it’s obvious that a lot of love went into building it. It’s hard to make office/retail space look like a carnival, but this is a solid attempt. There’s not a lot of flashy props, but it works.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the puzzles match the quality of the set. For such a large playing space, the puzzles felt a little sparse. It felt like the two of us were walking around a lot without any real idea of what else we could find, or put together. When we solved the puzzles, there wasn’t a lot of satisfaction. It usually felt like “Well, I guess you could do it that way…”
The second half of the game ended up playing in sort of the opposite fashion. There were a couple of very cool puzzles (along with several more standard ones) that were hidden in a room that made me forget that we were 1) at a carnival and 2) searching for a criminal. In fact, I later asked Anna (who hadn’t read the description on the website), and she wasn’t even aware of the “story” we were following.
“Carnival” has a huge amount of potential. It does a good job of involving all the senses in an experience that’s not just another logic puzzle. After talking with the owner, I think this room is going to continue to get better as it gets tweaked. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it is not living up to its potential. New players will probably enjoy the experience, though they might have some problems with some of the more difficult puzzles. Experienced players will find little to make this room memorable in the midst of a growing escape room market.
Puzzles: A couple of really innovative puzzles amidst a collection of unsatisfying ones. Theme: So promising to start with, but the room never delivers on the promise. Game Master: The Game Master did well, but the clue system was a little low-tech with clues being able to be delivered with no notice. Upkeep: Everything worked, and it didn’t look like the room has hosted as many people as it has. Customer Service: The owner was awesome to work with. Very accommodating, and clearly enjoys being there. Extras: -1 for a larger-than-average number of red herrings that didn’t really belong.