Whole Brain Escape – Seekers of the Mystic Orb (Review)

Location: Apex, NC

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $29 per person, private pricing available, see website for details

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Ia! Ia!

Theme:

From the Whole Brain Escape website:

On the Isle of Dread, archaeologists have discovered a long-forgotten city. Somewhere in these ruins, you must find the Mystic Orb, an artifact of great power. Find it and flee, or be trapped by an ancient curse! Will you succeed in your quest?

First Impressions:

Back in February, we visited Whole Brain Escape for their fantastic Bustin’ Out of the 80s and Escape the Supervillian’s Lair rooms, and once Seekers of the Mystic Orb opened, we couldn’t wait to return! The owners have a really great grasp on game design, being former video game designers, and their focus on experiences that focus on mechanical and tactile interactions rather than technical ones produces some wonderfully creative puzzles. Needless to say, I was thrilled we were able to come in to see what they had cooked up with this Lovecraft inspired adventure!

High Points:

This non-linear experience is absolutely filled to the brim with puzzles, and ensures that even larger groups will be engaged from start to finish. Teamwork is rewarded heavily, and we found that splitting up to divide and conquer was key to our success. With multiple puzzle threads winding around the room at any given time, it would be easy to get lost between all the enigmas in play, but the connective tissue that is worked into the game flow is excellently implemented, ensuring that everything remains intuitive and there is always a method to ensure you know what solutions go to which locks. All of the puzzles included are developed in house, so there are a lot of really original interactions peppered throughout the experience, many of which provide clever moments of revelation. Progress is easy to gauge during the room, as there is no directionless scavenging, and it is always clear what needs to be done during any given point in the game.

The story is a fun, Lovecraft inspired romp, but remains light hearted and family friendly throughout, ensuring players of all ages and experience levels can have a lot of fun with the room, even if they aren’t fans of the generally more horror oriented Lovecraftian universe. Story items are found through puzzle solving, and are worked into the conundrums themselves, so it doesn’t feel as though the reading is an optional time waster, and stays relevant throughout. The whole game is a mix of some of my favorite puzzle types, including many tactile interactions. The room also makes great use of the space provided, utilizing the layout in brilliant ways, and encouraging players to ensure they take in every detail of the room.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle type is repeated across two separate puzzle threads, causing us a bit of deja vu when we came across another version of a puzzle we’d seen before. The set for the latter part of the game feels a bit less immersive than the initial stages, we would’ve liked the more foreboding feel of our initial entrance to carry over. I generally was more sure of the location in story of the initial stages than where we were intended to be during the latter part of the game, in terms of immersion.

Verdict:

Seekers of the Mystic Orb is another excellent entry into Whole Brain Escape’s repertoire! Absolutely dense with puzzles, this game will keep even the largest groups engaged throughout, and is a great challenge for newcomers and enthusiasts alike. I really enjoy the back to basics game design that Whole Brain excels at, and cannot wait to return for their upcoming room, The Curse of Dr. Conundrum! Book your time seeking the Mystic Orb here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Whole Brain Escapes provided comped tickets for this room.

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