A visual spectacle down the rabbit hole.
- Website: Confined
Address: 2020 32 Ave NE L, Calgary, AB T2E 6T4
- Private Booking: No
- Price: $25 per person
- Duration: 60 minutes
- Linearity: Mixed
- Group size: #medium
- Player Level: #competent
- Premise: “You’ve fallen down the rabbit hole into a very strange place where things are mind-bendingly warped; reality is some-how altered and things are not as they seem – you’re in Wonderland! You must keep your wits about you and figure out the ins and outs of this maddening adventure to make your escape before time runs out.”
We found out about this room when we were driving out of The Locked Room. At a stoplight, we saw the words “escape room” (which are very primed in our minds so they jumped out). The logo outside didn’t look inviting, but we Googled their company anyway.
We decided to book the next day, which we found out was also their grand opening day. We found out the booking website takes off booking time that is two hours prior to the actual play time. The owners said this was because they wanted to focus on their customers and not let themselves be overbooked.
When we went to the location, the staff was a little frantic, particularly because technology wasn’t cooperating–the debit machine did not work, the pre-room video wouldn’t play. However, they were still personable and friendly, and you could tell they were passionate about what they do.
Overall, the service wasn’t completely smooth. Despite the first day hiccups, we still felt welcomed, and the staff wanted us to have a good time, which is all that matters.
This was our first time at Confined, and we were actually their very first paying customers! There were a few issues with payment and getting our room ready, but the staff were very apologetic and did whatever they could to make everything go smoothly. These little technical things are definitely understandable given that this is their very first day, and it wasn’t really bothersome so we let it slide.
We also had the opportunity to talk to one of the owners about how they’re approaching the escape room scene, which was nice! They came from a haunted house background, so I had a hunch that Alice was going to be great.
Ben wrote his review first so I’m having a hard time adding something new. He hit the nail on the head with his review below. Innovativeness, difficulty level, and intuitiveness are the three main factors that we’re looking for in puzzles.
Difficult? Yes. When we were recapping the puzzles in the room, looking back, there actually weren’t that many. The thing that took the most time was not solving each puzzle, but thinking how to solve each puzzle. Before entering, we were warned that the room would be hard with two people given the difficulty level of the puzzles. I would say this is right and wrong. It’s right because the puzzles were definitely hard, but I would say wrong because they were solvable with two people (except in our case, of course).
Innovative? Hell yes. Doing so many escape rooms, you would find yourself solving the same puzzles with some variation here and there. Here, however, almost all the puzzles were new. As Ben said, make sure to think outside the box!
Intuitive? Maybe not. I would say intuitive means having that gut feeling of how to solve a puzzle. Having done so many, you just start to develop and refine your gut feeling. Here, because the puzzles are so innovative, previous experiences are thrown out the window. It definitely got frustrating at times, but did not take away from the overall experience.
When I’m thinking of the puzzles, I mainly consider how innovative they are, their difficulty level, and how intuitive they are (meaning how solvable is the puzzle given the clues that we got).
The creativity of the puzzles in this room is absolutely insane! There were so many new kinds of puzzles that we had never seen before. In other rooms, when trying to come up with the solution to a puzzle I find myself thinking “No, that’s ridiculous, why would I even try that?” But in Alice in Wonderland, don’t discount any of your crazy thoughts! Try them out (within reason and as long as it doesn’t break any rules of course)!
There was only one puzzle that I found a little bit hard and not very intuitive, but aside from that, this room’s puzzles are lots of fun.
“The first 3D room in North America”–My first thought was, “What the hell does a 3D escape room even mean? Isn’t being *in* an escape room already 3D?”
I’m not going to spoil how the 3D works, you’ll just have to see for yourself. What I will describe is how the room looks. I’m usually the most critical in terms of how a room looks, so I was setting myself up for disappointment. When I first walked into the room though, I was absolutely surprised in the most positive way. It was gorgeous. Escape rooms are a means of an escape from the real world–you get your fair share of out-of-this-world themes and you walk into the rooms and you see the usual styrofoam props and drawers and tacky paintings, but you still accept that as the norm. Here though, the standard has been set to a new high.
I really give kudos to the art direction of this room. It was ballsy to have an “Alice in Wonderland” room because that means creating a whole new world that’s colorful, bright, whimsical, quirky, cartoonish. Add 3D to that. It’s a tough feat to accomplish but they did it with flying colors.
When I saw that they were advertising this room as “the first 3D room in North America”, I honestly thought it was one of those cheap gimmicks to get you to go. But it was most definitely not.
This room was so whimsical and looked incredibly trippy (in a really really good way!). Whoever did the artwork for this room deserves some massive kudos, because it was absolutely beautiful and so well done.
I don’t think I’ll have any words that can do this room justice – you’ll just have to experience it for yourself!
Echoing what Ben said, the music didn’t start playing until 15 minutes into the room, and when it did play, it was very soft. We could hear the people talking in the lobby which took away from the immersion. I’m sure they’ll fix this hiccup in the future.
Another thing that took away from the feeling of immersion was the doorbell. Every ten minutes or so, someone would walk in, activate the doorbell sound, and we would remember that we were just doing an escape room instead of being in a whole different world. Again, this is easily fixable.
I appreciated the hint system being on the television screen because no one was walking in and out of the room to break the feeling of immersion.The gamemaster watching your experience can give you little nudges here and there, and the hints they provide are customizable. It was fine at the start, but in the latter half of the experience, it got a bit tricky because the television screen’s location became inconvenient.
There was a bit of issue with the music, which was unfortunate since I think it would’ve really added to the atmosphere. We didn’t get any music going until about 15 minutes in, and then it was skipping a little bit. Again though, because we were the very first people there, I’m sure they’ll have had some time to troubleshoot and fix what was going on.
Confined also has a different hint-giving system than what we’ve seen before. Typically, you push a doorbell, and your game master comes into the room, and then you have a quick conversation about what you’re having trouble with and then your game master gives you some guidance. We’ve seen a few different hint-giving systems too: at Escape Capers, an in-room host who is in-character gives the hints, and at Logic Lock in Edmonton, there’s an in-character “narrator” for each room who gives you hints over the speakers.
At Confined, you get written hints on the TV near the start of the room. You just ask for them, and they show up on the TV. I’m not 100% convinced about this system – it does remove the whole aspect of the game master coming into your room and pulling you out of immersion, but it feels a little bit clunky at times.
Maybe we’ll have a blog post dedicated to hint-giving systems in the future?
Ben mentioned that having no backstory took away from the theme. However, again, it was their first day, so maybe they just forgot it. If there was no backstory, I’m not sure if we even needed one because everyone knows Alice in Wonderland (by the way, I’m curious if they paid for licensing fee?). The overwhelmingly Alice-themed look and puzzles were enough for me to say the theme was maximized.
It’s funny – before we saw this, Paulie and I were talking about how cool it would be to have an Alice in Wonderland-themed room.
Firstly, the room definitely looked like we took a tumble down the rabbit hole. I could also tell that most of the puzzles were very inspired by the theme.
This room gets a #diamond rating. Alice in Wonderland is a daunting challenge to take on, but they succeeded with flying (neon) colors. We failed, but we still had a lot of fun. Definitely bring younger ones because they’ll enjoy this room as much as you will. If you’ve been feeling cynical about escape rooms and want to reinvigorate your passion, give this room a shot!
This room gets a #diamond rating! There are so many new and unique things going on here. This room was so refreshing to do – and the fact that we enjoyed it so much even after failing to get out (by about 5 or so minutes!!) really shows that Confined is going to be a strong contender in the escape room scene in Calgary.
- Completed: August 5, 2016
- Escaped? No (2 people)
- Our Time: 1:00+
- # of hints used: 3