Marketing Tabletop Puzzle Games on Kickstarter — A Case Study
Escape Edinburgh: The Magic Emporium | Review
The Magic Emporium: Three days ago a well renowned supplies shop for all budding wizards closed for the day. However inexplicably the shop never opened again. Sensing that forces of evil are at work you have decided that you are going to investigate the mystery behind Ms Garbo’s disappearance. Don’t get caught!
Date Played: December 2022
Time Taken: 35 minutes
Number of Players: 3
“I’ve never done an escape room before”, my friend tells me.
“Wait, what?! Let’s fix that right away!”
Unfortunately by now I have done most of the absolutely excellent rooms in Edinburgh, so my choices to take a brand new non-enthusiast somewhere impressive were slim – but you can’t go wrong with somewhere like “Escape Edinburgh” which is a franchise with venues all around the UK. Back in London, I’d enjoyed a lot of their rooms and being a franchise model of company I figured they’d be pretty good in any city you came across. We’re fans of the ‘magical world’ theme, so The Magic Emporium in Edinburgh (one not available in London) seemed like a good bet to try out.
On a wintery day just after Christmas we took ourselves down to Escape Edinburgh to try out the magical shop themed room as a team of three. Between us, we had a range of ‘experience’ levels with the escape room, making for a perfect mix, and – in my opinion – a perfect team size for a game like this. The lobby area is much smaller than most escape rooms, so as we waited for our friend to arrive, we stood to one side reading through the waiver and making small talk with our host. Just as we were about to be led to the room, an enormous group of around 20 people who had not made a booking showed up asking if they could play a room there and then. I felt for the Games Master as they dealt with the chaos of that group arriving to the world’s smallest lobby all at once, and it did cause a slight delay to the start time of our game as we huddled in the corner patiently. But after a little while, we were at our room’s door and off into the magical world of “The Magical Emporium”.
The room starts impressively as you find yourself in a cobblestone alleyway outside of a row of shops. I really like this “looking into shop front mechanic”, and Escape Edinburgh did well to recreate a magical atmosphere in this space. As we could tell from the offset, there were many more puzzles to be found inside but our first task was simple: Get inside, somehow.
Magic and Mystery in the Air
The room did a fairly good job of taking us through the narrative and puzzling journey in terms of gameplay. It was a fairly linear room, although there were moments when different members of our group were split up from one another, relaying and reciting information we’d found. There was plenty of searching and finding, and plenty of locks to keep us occupied too. At one point did we get stuck and require a clue. The puzzle was something that had been staring us in the face for a while, but after much staring it didn’t quite click for us, so we opted for a clue. Besides this one puzzle, the overall game felt like it had a good balance of fun and puzzling to suit a newbie group (such as ourselves) and still give that magical spark that makes someone want to come back for more escape rooms. My life goal to create more escape room enthusiasts is therefore complete!
Since The Magic Emporium is a franchise escape room available at the Escape group, you might notice a similarly named room available at a number of other locations around the UK. Notable: Chelmsford, Lincoln, Walton Pier, Newcastle, Basildon and of course the venue we visited: Edinburgh. In general, rooms of the same name are the same across different locations. However some may have notable differences. So an experience at another venue may be slightly different than the one we had here. Similarly, being a franchise escape room, I find that sometimes- but not always, there’s a little wear and tear. This holds true for The Magic Emporium which I have no doubt was a stunning room in it’s glory days but now suffers a little roughness around the edges and slight breaks that can’t be easily fixed. That said, if you’re not put off by details like this, it’s still a solid escape room.
The Magic Emporium: The Verdict
A fun little room that suited our newbie group very well. We weren’t overly challenged, but we did have a lot of fun and appreciated the environment and setting a lot. The Magic Emporium would be an excellent room for kids and families alike, as there’s a fun mix of traditional locks and more ‘magical’ activations of hidden puzzles. It might not satisfy the enthusiast’s itch, but still worth a visit if you’re in the area.
The Magic Emporium is available at Chelmsford, Lincoln, Walton Pier, Newcastle, Basildon, and of course the location we did it at: Edinburgh. The room is (as far as we’re aware) identical at all locations.