“An evil wizard has cast dark magic across the kingdom. You snuck into his inner sanctum and have one hour to stop him. Can you dispel THE WIZARD’S CURSE and save the realm?”
I was back in Champaign for a visit and didn’t want to waste an opportunity to check out the new location for CU Adventures; it did not disappoint! We were able to get through the room without much difficulty, the only hiccup coming from when I accidentally hid a vital clue from ourselves. Without that vital clue, we ended up going down several rabbit holes trying to figure out how to solve a particular puzzle. You could hear the relief in the gamemaster’s voice when we finally decided to ask for a hint, and she was able to give us a gentle nudge to check the thing I discarded. Even then, we finished the room with time to spare. One of the players had never done an escape room before and was dubious that it would be a good time—she had a blast and came out an escape room believer!
This was the first room that I had a chance to play at CU Adventures new location and they have really stepped up their game. The room decoration and props were all very well-built and thematic. My absolutely favorite touch in the decor was something that I would normally not consider at all, the timer. Check this thing out:
A giant, electronic hourglass, it was both thematic and immersive! Going through the room, it was hard to quickly figure out the exact time remaining but it was easy to get a rough idea, which honestly made the event less stressful. There’s something about the seconds quickly counting down in a timer that is inherently anxiety-provoking, as opposed to this hourglass which dropped an electronic grain of sand once a minute.
The puzzles for this room were really fun, well-designed, and thematically appropriate for the room. The room makes excellent use of Gen-3 design and puzzles, with lots of magical interactions between us players and the environment. The puzzles were cleverly designed and all felt diegetically appropriate to the room and the story.
As mentioned above, there was one puzzle I got stuck for a while on by accidentally hiding an important component of the puzzle. This room is still ongoing, so I’ll keep it vague, but this was definitely on me, not the puzzle designers. What I can say—as a general rule—it’s a good idea to check every side of an object before putting it to the side and forgetting completely about it.
This room is excellent for both beginners and enthusiasts alike. If you live in Chicago, Indianapolis, or St. Louis, Champaign-Urbana is only a few hours away and a trip to CU Adventures is totally worth the trip. You’ll likely spend the entire car-ride back talking about the cool things they’re doing here. I can’t wait to make it back home and try some of their new offerings.