Location: Fredricksburg, VA
Players: 2-6 (We recommend 3-4)
Price: Prices vary, see website for more details
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
How did so many jewels become lost?
From the Rush Hour Live Escape Games website:
The year is 1930 and your former colleague, Magnus Ferguson, has sent you a distressing request to collect a hid, mystical gem in the heart of Africa. Fleeing a powerful, bloodthirsty African warlord, he has left you clues on how to find the exotic treasure. Beat the warlord to the gem or suffer the wrath of his army!
Our third room at Rush Hour Live was a bit of a mental break for us, as we were informed that it was one of their more beginner level rooms. As it was also our 22nd of the 23 rooms we’d be experiencing this trip, it was certainly not unwelcome news. The friendly game master let us know they were excited to watch us blow through the room, (and we managed to escape the usual jinx of doing terrible when people tell us this,) and we immediately got to puzzling! We were more than ready to uncover another lost jewel!
To start, it was explained to us that we’d need to enter all of our answers into a part of the set that was prominently displayed. It was certainly a creative way to have a meta puzzle presented within what was ultimately a fairly low-tech room, and it was an enjoyable way to solve, some issues aside. The game flow for the room was very straightforward, and therefore worked pretty well, coupling a mostly non-linear beginning and middle with a dense amount of puzzling that was able to sustain our whole group. The puzzles are fairly engaging, if somewhat basic, and make good use of the space provided within the game, and the connections between each clue were intuitive, providing some small moments of revelation that kept us engaged with the experience. The climax was appropriately exciting, and the final reveal was a fun way to cap off the room. I also continue to be impressed by the job that Rush Hour Live does sound proofing their rooms. At no point did we hear any of the noise from the other six rooms around us, allowing us to remain immersed within the adventure for the full time.
Though the set for Lost Jewel of Zanzibar is competently made, it was definitely the least interesting, visually, of the rooms we experienced at Rush Hour Live. It takes place, for the most part, within a tent and though there are a couple of interesting set pieces, overall it is fairly banal. Puzzles were also the most basic here, which makes sense, as this is one of their easier rooms, but we found several of the puzzle types to be fairly basic, especially one of the penultimate puzzles, which included a problem that felt more like homework than an exciting escape room conundrum. One of the main inputs for this game was interesting as previously stated, but one problem with it is that there was no feedback on solutions, meaning that this meta puzzle could throw everything out of whack and suck up a lot of time if anything is incorrect or misplaced. A few puzzles also felt out of theme and included “because escape room.” Throughout the experience, there never felt like there was much of a connection to the stated story, outside of the gem we were meant to discover, and there wasn’t a sense of urgency other than the fact that we were in an escape room. Overall, this room was average, nothing too egregious, but it never quite differentiated itself from the pack.
Lost Jewel of Zanzibar is a good room for beginners, with an approachable game flow and intuitive connections, though it may be a bit basic for players with more experience. I recommend checking it out if you’re new to the hobby, but after getting a couple rooms under your belt, this one may lose a bit of its luster. However, it is a serviceable, family friendly experience, and I can recommend it to those looking for that sort of game. Book your time hunting for the lost jewel here!
Full Disclosure: Rush Hour Live Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for this room.