The Valcarol Missions – The Crystal Cave Mission (Review)

Location: Concord, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-6)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

On post apocalyptic Earth, all that’s left are puzzles!

Theme:

From the Valcarol Missions website:

November of 3049, Valcarol’s people land on earth and plan exploratory missions. Will there be clean air and water on earth? Will there be people there to help them fix their ship’s hydro system? Will it be safe outside of Valcarol?One of our explorers has met a survivor on earth. This survivor gives us the secret location of their water filtration station. It is protected in a cave system that was used as a fallout shelter back when the bombs rained down. This cave system has the special element that makes radiated water clean and safe again. The survivor is to remain anonymous and will not accompany us. We are going to the caves at our own risk. Volunteers for this mission must enter the caves while security is off the premises and make it through any protective measures. Find the elements that purify the water, including the special element that is mined from the cave. Once all of the elements are found, bring them to the water filtration system and get it working. Security will be gone for only an hour, so be quick! This is an important mission because clean water is needed by the dehydrated people of Valcarol and our hydro systems engineer will need to recreate the cave’s water filtration system that can put Valcarol and her people back into space.

First Impressions:

After a run of two not so great rooms, we were really hoping for a room that would reenergize us and remind us why Charlotte is such a great place to go for escape rooms. Luckily, our next stop was The Valcarol Missions, a highly anticipated spot we’d heard great things about! From the amazing design of their front area to the exuberant enthusiasm of the owners, I could tell this was going to be something special!

High Points:

The Valcarol Missions has really hit it out of the park with their sets, storyline, and original puzzling! Stepping into the Crystal Cave was immediately immersive, and the painstakingly created walls of the cave itself were amazing! Lighting and sound design also played an integral part of this amazing experience, lending believability to the entire adventure. Puzzles made excellent use of the space, spanning entire rooms and feeding us new conundrums and props every step of the way. Everything is woven into the theme expertly, and the tactile nature of the room truly engaged us on multiple sensory levels.

As a game, The Crystal Cave mission is amazingly satisfying to complete. The flow is impeccable, with a non-linear approach that allows everyone to stay engaged, and signposting that gives just enough of a hint to keep things moving at a good clip. Each non-linear portion of the game leads to a capstone puzzle that is designed in such a way as to ensure it doesn’t become a boring bottleneck for other players, and it seems like everything was designed with a team focus in mind. One particular puzzle lent an awesome sense of discovery, and as we unraveled the mystery behind it, the ah ha moment was immensely satisfying. The method for entering codes is straightforward, and works within the sci-fi theme, removing the basic locks for a truly technological vibe.

Low Points:

The initial area for the room felt a little more snug than we would’ve liked, and any more than the six we had would be a squeeze, but the room opens up immensely after the initial stage. There was also one puzzle in which the clue to be revealed was very difficult to see due to the cloudiness of the area it was in. One other puzzle could use a mite bit more cluing in order to get across it’s general idea, but was otherwise very cool.

Verdict:

The Valcarol Missions is off to a resoundingly positive start with the Crystal Cave mission, and we absolutely cannot wait for their next rooms to open! Easily one of the top businesses in the area already, I absolutely recommending checking them out as soon as you can. Book your mission in the Crystal Cave here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: The Valcarol Missions comped our tickets for this room.

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