Southern Pines Escape – Da Vinci’s Office (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review is brought to you by me! 😀

Location: Southern Pines, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 2-4)

Price: $27 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Da Vinci’s Other Code

Room Description, from the Southern Pines Escape website:

Leonardo da Vinci was one the greatest minds the world has ever known. He invented, painted, sculpted and did so many things that we are still trying to figure out. We can’t do it alone. Many have tried and failed. Time and time again Leonardo’s riddles baffle us. You and your friends have been granted a rare private viewing of Leonardo’s own private quarters. Now it’s up to you. You’ve got an hour. Can you do what many before you have tried and failed time after time?

Pre-Room Thoughts

Surprisingly, I have not done a Da Vinci themed room before. There are so many possibilities that such a room can cover – art, science, math, history, etc. – so I was excited to see what this one would hold!

Yay Points

When I first walked into the room, I immediately appreciated how big it was. It is definitely able to hold the maximum of 8 people the entire time! It had great and large on-theme decorations, and I could tell there was a lot of effort put into the creation of some of the props in this room.

There were interesting ideas behind some of the puzzles, and we really enjoyed one in particular early on in the game.

Pondering Points

I was told this was one of Southern Pines Escapes’ oldest available rooms, and unfortunately, that made our experience make a lot more sense.

Even though I liked the ideas behind many of the puzzles, the execution of them was marred by the fact that they seemed worn. This slowed us down because we had to repeat some puzzles multiple times or make guesses to some of the answers because the puzzles did not always get their placement exactly right, which was pivotal to solving them. One puzzle was held up by locks, of which some were broken so that they were coming off the wall. It was a potentially interesting idea, but its broken state made it hard to solve and confusing to approach. Another puzzle also got in its own way by accidentally obscuring its own clues, which was a shame because it was also a more unique idea. The directions to both of these puzzles were also a little confusing, and we ended up needing to guess and check at the right answers.

Those puzzles weren’t the only ones we had those issues with as there seemed to be more than a few logical leaps within this room, sometimes due to incomplete directions or just a general lack of cluing, which made a number of the puzzles more difficult to solve, but in the worst possible way. There were also some intentional (or perhaps unintentional) and unnecessary red herrings. While I do admit my bias against red herrings, this definitely made an already tiring room more frustrating, and made it harder to figure out what was actually important to solving a couple of the puzzles. (That being said, one of the puzzles to which I am referring likely had a lot of great effort that went into it, and I do appreciate the information it otherwise contained.)

A couple of times, we had to guess at which set of clues went with which puzzle, as the style of the clues overlapped with each other. The room also contained many of the same-type locks without an easy way to match locks with puzzles, which made us need to try our answers on multiple locks until we found the right one.

I do not often see destructible state puzzles, which become impossible to solve if you move things around (and therefore mess up the information you need to solve it), but we had to use a hint on one because that is exactly what we did. (Editor’s Note: Also, there was no indication that there was a destructible state puzzle in play, further muddling things.)

Despite some great uses of the theme, there were a couple of missed opportunities with some of the room’s decorations – and I mean that literally because they didn’t serve more than an aesthetic purpose. Of course, this is not inherently a bad thing (as most rooms have amazing decorations that solely serve to exhibit the theme of the room), but is surprising given the prominence of the props, the types of props they are, and the effort it likely took to build them when there were likely easier ways to do them.

Final Verdict

The Da Vinci room has a lot of potential, but would certainly benefit from some updates and added cluing. It was not the best room we did at Southern Pines Escapes, so I would definitely recommend their other ones first – in particular, the Wizard Thief (review to come!) However, you are definitely welcome to check the room out for yourself here.

2/10 (Bad)

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