Location: Southern Pines, NC
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 2-3)
Price: $27 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
Magic Mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest escapist of them all?
From the Southern Pines Escape website:
The Evil Wizard has stolen artifacts from your favorite childhood storylines. He is gone for the next hour gathering supplies for his final evil spell and you have found yourself in his castle tower. It is up to you and your team to retrieve each artifact before he returns, to thwart his evil plan and to save everyone’s ‘Happily Ever After’!
Wizard Thief was the last room we experienced at Southern Pines Escape, and though the previous three rooms varied a bit in quality, I can definitely say that we saved the best for last. This room easily had the best set, and it showed from the very start.
As stated, Wizard Thief has the best set of any of the rooms at Southern Pines Escape, no contest. The design, lighting, and sound effects are implemented very well, and show a marked evolution from earlier rooms. Everything is very responsive, and when tech is involved, it is easy to know when a solution is working or not. The story line is simple, but sets up the tasks in the room well, presenting a great start, and ensuring that the overall mission is intuitive. As we puzzled through the room, gathering various fairly tale items, our progress was excellently signposted, so we always knew about where we were situated in the game flow. Speaking of game flow, this room definitely had the most smooth game flow of the bunch, with an intuitiveness that held up throughout, and a diverse run of puzzles that challenged without resorting to logical leaps or red herrings. One particular puzzle used well hidden tech, lighting, and a very satisfying tactile solve to present one of my favorite “crafting” puzzles I’ve seen in a room. With a mostly non-linear set up, some surprising reveals that we absolutely did not see coming, and, (I think most enthusiasts will appreciate this one,) ample flashlights for everyone, Wizard Thief is easily my favorite room at Southern Pines Escape.
To start off the room, we found a pair of pliers, which seemed out of theme, but also seemed very useful for one particular puzzle we had identified. While it was tricky, we were able to solve the puzzle, but weren’t quite able to use what we found immediately. Later on, we found a prop that seemed much more suited to this task, revealing that the pliers may have been left in the room on accident during the reset. For this room’s climax, there was again a lock to the side of the door, which remained anticlimactic, especially since this seemed very unnecessary due to the task based nature of the room. There were many similar lock types used within this room, but for the most part, it didn’t involve as much guess and check as previous rooms here, and each level contained mostly diverse lock types. One particular set piece was a great idea, and seemed like it would be a very cool way to evoke magic, but the projector that was used to pay this magic off was fairly unfocused, making for some very difficult reading.
Wizard Thief is a fun experience, especially for new escapists and families looking for an engaging hour of puzzling. While some of the experience could be refined in order to create an even more magical experience, overall, it is a good time, and has just enough surprises to keep veterans on their toes. I recommend this one, but do think enthusiasts will be happiest with a smaller group. Book your time recovering the stolen fairy tale artifacts here!