Total Escape – Temple of Tikal (Review)

Location: Winston-Salem, NC

Price: $30 per person

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

It (still!) belongs in a museum!

Theme:

The Temple of Tikal is a legendary Mayan temple, rumored to house an ancient and incredibly valuable treasure, hidden away by the Jaguar King behind a series of traps and puzzles designed to only give way to those who are worthy of possessing his most prized treasure. You and your friends have found a way into the temple, and have one hour before the temple’s mechanisms seal again, leaving you trapped inside! Work quickly, and become the true heir to the Jaguar King’s riches!

First Impressions:

Prison Break was Total Escape’s first escape room, and it was a great experience, taking a fairly common trope and executing it better than most other escape rooms have. Before our venture into the Temple of Tikal, we spoke with one of Total Escape’s owners, and she gave us a sneak peak of the then upcoming Yacht Heist, which was a huge, and incredibly sleek looking room. All of this had us jazzed to see what the designers had cooked up for the Temple!

We were also impressed that Total Escape added in subtitles to their intro video, which is a small touch, but very much appreciated.

High Points:

Temple of Tikal began with our fantastic game master giving us our back story and challenging us to begin our game by opening us the Temple itself with somewhat of a pre game challenge. I always enjoy when escapes begin “outside” the room itself, and this was an unexpectedly cool way to start off our game. Once we’d pieced together this appetizer puzzle, the Temple was ours to explore! The experience remains highly non-linear almost throughout, with capstone puzzles measuring progress splendidly, and providing intuitive solves to ensure that all players remain involved with solves and there aren’t many choke points to stymie progress. The game flow works extremely well, and many solves provide great moments of revelation and satisfying pay offs. This may be one of the most hands on rooms we’ve done lately as the set is absolutely littered with large scale puzzles and interactions, displaying some amazing and tactile set pieces to puzzle around with your team. This focus on large scale, teamwork based puzzling is a constant theme throughout the adventure, and there was something for everyone to work on for almost the entire game.

Technology in the game is incredibly responsive, and players always know when a solution has been accepted, as many times when a correct answer has been input, there’s instant feedback. This feedback takes inspiration from great adventure games, and we were wowed many times by the exciting moments our actions triggered. This was one of the few games in which I felt as though I was in the middle of one of the great puzzle moments during a Tomb Raider game. The intuitive nature of the game ensured that even during the more challenging parts of the room, we were never left to cast about wondering what came next, and the high energy journey through the Temple remained engaging through it’s appropriately exciting climax. Like Prison Break, the absence of a game timer really elevated the experience, ensuring that we remained focused on the game and immersed within the story. I lost all track of time in the best possible way, and this small exclusion helped keep outside distractions from encroaching on the game.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle is an interesting interaction to begin, but is somewhat arduous to complete, due to it’s nature. It boiled down to a guess and check interaction at its core, and until we’d found the right way to manipulate things, it felt like busy work. An additional puzzle or clue could easily skip a lot of the aimlessness of this one, preventing the novelty of the interaction from wearing off. Though the room is non-linear and provides a lot for larger groups to do, there is one particular choke point we arrived at that leads to some standing around as only two players could comfortably work on it before becoming a case of too many cooks. Overall, though, both of these instances were minor points during a run of great adventuring.

Verdict:

Temple of Tikal is an awesome leap forward from the already great Prison Break, and if our sneak peek of Yacht Heist is any indication, the sky is the limit for Total Escape! Boasting some excellent set design, cool interactions, and large scale teamwork based puzzling, Temple of Tikal is a must play for any enthusiast in the area, and new players will be astounded by the highly approachable, yet challenging gameplay as well. Uncover the buried secrets of the Jaguar King’s treasure here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full disclosure: Total Escape provided media discounted tickets for our group.

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