It’s the 1860’s gold rush in the wild frontier of central Otago, New Zealand. Prospectors have flooded into Queenstown and its surrounds from around the world in search of gold. The gold rush has also attracted bandits who roam the pioneer tracks in gangs looking for unsuspecting travellers carrying gold. The biggest prize of all for a bandit would be a gold escort which takes a carriage full of gold from the gold fields to the town banks.
Completion Time: 1 hr 20 minutes
Date Played: 13th March 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: People interested in New Zealand history, and who want an adventure whilst in lockdown!
So a long time ago in another lifetime I used to live in New Zealand and I look back on the place with incredibly fond memories! Sure, I lived in Auckland, not Queenstown – but the moment I read the game’s description I was immediately transported to the local history lessons of my school days learning about the gold rush and was reminded of holidays with my family spent gold panning*
*I actually found some gold one time, it’s a tiny speck but damn I’m proud!!
So for me, Missing Gold Escort was a joy to play… And we all know how much I love a good print and play game! History aside, the print + assemble aspect of this game was outstanding.
I’ve tried not to spoil it too much with my photographs but at each stage in this game you’ve got something to cut out and in most cases, something to assemble too. From 3D rooms you have to rotate and examine closely to ‘enter’, to assembling items from within locations only to repair them, from cutting out intricate dials to adjust the speed of water flowing, to extensive 3D map puzzles with obstacles to assemble then overcome. Wow! So much detail!
The year is 1860 and a gold escort has gone missing whilst travelling to a secret location. With bandits running rife, the worst is feared and it’s up to you to solve the clues and retrace the escort’s steps. First, you locate the route chosen, then you find the driver, then you find the gold, then you deposit it at the bank.
As you can tell from my description, the game doesn’t follow a typical escape room format, it’s much more of an adventure-come-treasure-hunt game, and I love that. The game heavily uses map puzzles, but does so in a creative way where each part feels fresh. At some points in the game, I had to reuse maps I’d already looked it (cue lots of rummaging around in my ‘discarded’ pile), but it all made sense within the larger narrative.
In terms of difficulty, I’d say this was ‘intermediate’, and I’d definitely recommend tackling it in a group (and not as a solo team of 1 like I did!). It’s also just so much more fun to bounce ideas off people (and have an extra pair of hands to help cut things out!)
A little bit more signposting may have helped me in parts, but I know that everyone likes a different level of ‘this is what you have to do’. There was also one section where I breezed past a puzzle using the clues and not fully figuring it out myself, only to realise the next puzzle in the game build directly upon the previous solution. Oops @ me for not paying attention!
But overall, it was good fun! I’d planned to play it on Friday evening but instead did it over lunch in a sunny spot in the corner of my apartment. With the sun on my skin and a light breeze through the window, despite being a million miles away in London, UK, I felt *there*. Escape Quest have absolutely nailed it and I really hope they make more printable escape room games soon!
Missing Gold Escort can be purchased for $30 NZD (~£15) per team by heading to Escape Quest Queenstown’s website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.