Mystery room: Pharaoh’s treasure

Game experience: TERRIBLE
Immersion0,5 stars    Puzzles   1,5 stars    Hosting   1,0 stars
Plus Minus
Nothing Everything

Despite occasional shortcomings, nearly all escape games I had played so far had been a fun experience, with dedicated owners, designers and gamemasters who work hard to provide a good experience. It was therefore an interesting experience to play at Mystery Room, as I could hardly imagine that the quality of an escape game could be so abysmal.

Nuit Blanche is a wonderful winter event in Montreal with a bunch of exhibitions, music performances, games and all kinds of events across the city. For at least two years, Mystery Room has organized a special 15 minutes-long escape game during Nuit Blanche, on a first-come, first-served basis. We tried to go there in 2016, but there was a ridiculously long queue at 8 pm (it was already very badly organized by then, and impossible to get even simple information such as approximate waiting time). I was quite curious to see how they would organize a 15-minutes long escape game though, so we arrived this year before their opening time of 5 pm; despite being already a group of 6 players, we were teamed with another group of 2, and they suggested we would play their most difficult room, Pharaoh’s Treasure.

queue(imagine this, but in winter)

I was a bit disappointed to hear that their “special Nuit Blanche” escape experience was just a subset of the puzzles of their regular escape game. Which means, by the way, that if you played this short version, then it would spoil the experience of playing the regular reversion. Be reassured though: as you’re about to understand, there is nothing of value that could be spoiled here.

Although we were the first group to arrive, we had to wait 15 minutes that they would prepare the room. Well, if the room wasn’t ready, then why did they open at 5 pm instead of 5:15 pm? Was it just for the pleasure of making the 60 people already queueing outside wait 15 minutes more each? (thanks, that’s already a total of 15 hours squandered for your customers)

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But a much more serious problem was this sign on the counter:

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Yes, I could not believe my eyes either (I’m not speaking of the broken French): they offer to exchange an additional hint for a 5-stars review! And according to the sign, you’re supposed to give them this review before you have played the room! This is such a blatant violation of the most basic business ethics that I cannot understand how anyone would dare to propose such a bargain.

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After some waiting time, the gamemaster accompanied us into the room. Usually, I would have complained that it would spoil the immersion, but I was about to discover that there was no immersion whatsoever anyway. The gamemaster, obviously in a rush, told us that we had 15 minutes to exit; I asked her what was the scenario, and her (serious) reply was: “You are explorers and want to solve riddles. Good luck!” and she left. I had my mind blown by so much accuracy! The decorations were ridiculously bad: a nearly empty room with some vaguely Egyptian motive printed on the walls, and a Western style desk in the center (yes, there is a desk in a Pharaoh’s tomb; this was unfortunately far from being the most serious problem in this room).

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Do not count on the puzzles to make it up for the abysmal immersion. They were ultra-classical and did not present any significant level of interest. Here again, the amateurism was unfathomable: one of the necessary clue was badly written with a pencil on a wall, and another puzzle seemed to me to rest on an astronomical mistake.

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Finally, the gamemastering was absolutely calamitous. Eight minutes after starting, as we were stuck, the gamemaster entered into the room without any warning to give us a hint. And when we ended and asked her to explain the puzzles that we could not solve, she refused! I’ve played more than hundred escape games to this date, but it is the only time that I’ve seen that… maybe they were worried we would figure out that their puzzles made no sense at all? She obviously did not care at all about the quality of our experience, and her goal was just to kick us out as fast as possible, now that she got our money. Another gamemaster who welcomed us was sympathetic though, and this is the only reason why I gave 1 star on Hosting rather than half a star or none – or, for what matters, a negative score.

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Even if the experience cost only 8$, it is more expansive than the average Canadian escape game price when you scale it to the 15 minutes duration – and it is a downright rip-off when you take into consideration the terrible quality of the room. Moreover, there was not much to do in this room – and at 8 players, we were way too many. Anyway, there is only one decent team size for this escape game: zero players.

This venue is a disgrace to the family of escape games, and I’m positively furious they give such a bad reputation to escape games to so many people during Nuit Blanche. No wonder, with such a company, that the interest for escape games in Montreal is relatively underdeveloped, when compared to cities of similar size! If this had been my first escape game experience – as it was for many people during Nuit Blanche, including three of the members of my group on this occasion – I might never have developed any interest in escape games. I had to work hard to convince my three companions that this was not representative at all of the escape game scene. The only positive thing with this experience I can think of is that we squandered less money and time than if we had booked the full game on a regular occasion (which has been played by another friend who has a lot of escape room experience, and was equally disappointing to him).

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In case you’re still considering to play this game some day, I urge you to think twice and rather opt for a more pleasant activity – such as a colonoscopy or a full teeth replacement. There are enough good escape game venues in Montreal (such as Find the key, Missions Morpheus, Escape masters or Amaze) so that you don’t need to squander time and money there. And since they offer to trade a hint for a 5-stars review for players who haven’t played the game yet, you might consider giving them a 1-star review (see the QR code above) without having played the game either, as a free gift; it sounds like what they would consider as a fair bargain.

Game played in March 2018 (Pictures: Pixabay)

No other reviews found (glad to see that fellow bloggers avoided this calamity)

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