Wizard of Oz (The Panic Room – Gravesend)

Game Date: 24th September 2019
Game Number: 36
Price for Two: £45
Website: https://thepanicroom.net/

Game Overview
It’s time for a magic-filled adventure like no other! Fly away on a whirlwind of excitement and visit the incredible land of Oz!

The Wonderful Wizard has gone on vacation and he’s left The Tinman, The Scarecrow and the Lion in charge of running the Emerald City. This isn’t as easy of a job as he makes it look however; they could use a bit of help! Follow the yellow brick road, make your way into the Emerald City and step into the Wizard’s shoes! You’ll be sure to make some friends along the way, so work together to fix your hot air balloon before time runs out! Are you ready for the flight of a lifetime?

Arrival and Introduction
It did not take much suggestion or persuasion from our previous GM for us to book a second game straight after we escaped from Old Father Time after all it took us a couple of years to make it down to the Panic Room in the first place so who knows how long it would be before we were back again! The Wizard of Oz is housed in the Panic Room centre just over the road from where we were so Tunde left to make sure we everything was set up and ready to go whilst we gathered our things from our locker. Once again the reception was bright and well lit with plenty of space to house a couple of teams. We were slightly put off by the screams coming from above us but Tunde assured us it was because they were mid way through one of their horror games and it was perfectly normal! We loved the extra thought that went into the briefing for this game from the additional clothing to the how we entered the room which gave a good a good explanation as to why you were heading to Oz in the first place.

Gameplay
Part of the brief and story was again delivered from inside the room, however, such was the nature of this interaction from Tunde that I overlooked the fact that we were in the room before the game started. It also helped that the room we were in, although really nicely decorated was clearly just an ante room to the main game area. This room house a couple of warm up puzzles that eventually led us to opening the gates into Oz including an interactive puzzles that could have been a real chore if it wasn’t done well but thankfully was spot on. The main game area was similarly well themed and you could easily place yourself within the fictional land of Oz.

There was a great deal of searching to be done in this room but I guess that is to help it appeal to the many families that must play this game as it gives the children in the group something to focus on. For once, we actually initially managed to find everything that was needed and were able to press on with the rest of the room. There were some really tough puzzles in this room, many of which had multiple layers to them which ramped up their difficulty. Observation formed a decent part of these puzzles but their were some fun physical puzzles scattered around as well.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THIS PARAGRAPH. There was one puzzle in the game that we struggled with within the game, one where there could seemingly be a number of possible answers, all of which turned out to be wrong. After taking a number of clues, Tunde eventually had to give us the answer. I am glad that she did because I do not think we would have ever entered the correct code on our own. In short, the code was found split over four items but the code occurs naturally on the item rather than it being added for the game. Looking back it is a logical puzzle but one that would benefit from some simple signposting to lead the players in the right direction as I feel that the information currently leads players in the wrong direction. SPOILER OVER

The game designers have done well to trick the player into thinking the room is much bigger than it actually is and also trick the player into thinking they are further away from completing the game than they actually are, although, coupled with the frustrations we had on one puzzle meant that I was panicking more than I needed to towards the end which probably impacted on my enjoyment of the game a little bit.

Outcome
Despite my panicking, we managed to retrieve the heart, courage and brain with around 8 mins left on the clock and we boarded our hot air balloon back home. Tunde left us to ask for clues in this room and we needed 5, 3 of which on one puzzle that got us frustrated, one search fail late in the game and one when we were not looking at things properly. These were delivered by a screen in the room. After our game, we chatted through some of the other games available with Tunde and even got an insight into why the team before us were screaming so much! We as a rule do not play scary rooms but the ones at the Panic Room would certainly be on our list if we did.

Credit: The Panic Room

Overall
Tunde warned us that it would be much trickier one than our previous one and we certainly felt that but we could also easily see how this room would really appeal to families. Those that are new to escape rooms my want to take a slightly bigger team or be prepared to ask for a number of hints. Two experience players should be able to escape if you approach the puzzles in the right way. Again Tunde was a great host who really sold the entry into the room and looked after us well over the two games we played

Customer Experience: 4.5 out of 5
Theming: 4 out of 5
Gameplay: 4 out of 5
Enjoyment: 4 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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