Crouching tiger, hidden doors.
- Website: Time Escape
Address: 10939 120 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5H 3R3
- Private Booking: Yes
- Price: $25 per person
- Duration: 45 minutes
- Linearity: Linear
- Group size: #small
- Player Level: #competent
- Premise: “Through years of research your friend has discovered a dungeon hidden within the Imperial Palace with secret artifacts. Without concrete evidence, the task to be fulfilled by your team is to adventure back to the Imperial Palace and gather evidence to prove there is a dungeon and the artifacts are real.”
Time Escape originated in Hong Kong, made its way to Vancouver, and finally launched in Edmonton several weeks ago. Given that it’s a franchise, the company’s branding is on point. The lobby is simple but looks expensive. The staff members were all (genuine) smiles throughout our stay, from the moment we walked in, during our debrief, and when we got out. They skew to the younger side and they provided professional and excellent customer service.
The people here are nice! I like them and found them to be super friendly. One of the girls who works there was our gamemaster and she’s always so upbeat and encouraging when she gives us the backstory and our hints!
As Ben said, the puzzles here were different in terms of execution. The usual number-lock combinations were still present, but what sets Time Escape apart from other companies is its unabashed use of expensive technology.
I think that because they’re a franchise, they can afford to go all out with technology. (They even have company sticker logos on some of their locks.) In our case, technology allowed for satisfying payoffs after solving some of the puzzles. We solve a puzzle and something lights up in the middle of the room. Or, we solve a puzzle and something opens in the corner.
There were still low-tech puzzles that involved the traditional use of just brainpower. Overall, the combination of advanced technology and traditional puzzles made for a satisfying puzzle-solving experience.
The puzzles here are pretty different from anything else we’ve seen in other rooms! There’s one interesting kind of mini-game in this room that was pretty fun and VERY different from the norm.
One notable thing about this room is how well it executes red herrings. Normally, I’m not a fan of rooms that have them, but Imperial Palace works with red herrings in a way that you’re not just blindly guessing what information is relevant. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’s right to call them “red herrings” since figuring out what information is relevant is kind of a puzzle on its own!
I agree with Ben that there was not a lot of decor in the room. I think they were looking for a minimalistic Asian look. What was there, however, looked fantastic. I think this is expected from a franchise like Time Escape. The props and decor do not come from Value Village or garage sales. They are custom-made for the company. Everything here looked and felt expensive.
In hindsight, there was actually not a lot of décor in this room. But what was there was quite effective at creating a sort of temple vibe. I’m also not sure why (maybe the lack of décor?), but I really really liked the walls in this room!
Before you start a room at Time Escape, they make you wear opaque sunglasses in order to prevent the room from being spoiled. I think this is a clever way to initiate the feeling of immersion. You’re in the hallway one moment, then you’re in another world the next moment.
The walls were covered by wallpaper from top to bottom and the secret doors were not at all easily perceptible. The music and the lighting also added to the overall feeling of immersion. My only complaint was one particular puzzle became so frustrating that it took me out of immersion and I felt like giving up. (I’ll talk about this below under Theme.)
While I didn’t exactly feel like I was whisked away to the Orient, I really appreciated the mysterious yet upbeat ambiance of this room. The look and the music created an inviting atmosphere that was both enticing and energizing!
There aren’t a lot of Asian-inspired rooms out there, which is unfortunate because there’s so much to explore and reference. Every single puzzle, prop, and song here was thematically loyal. I really appreciated how they took a theme and maximized all the references they could make. The only thing that took me out of the experience was a particular puzzle that went along to where we were, but not when we were.
This room drew upon not just the commonly known elements of Chinese culture (e.g., the Chinese zodiac, the ba gua); there were some historical elements as well, which I thought was a nice touch! The reason I give this a 9 and not a 10 is because there was a puzzle that – while fun – wasn’t a great thematic fit with the room!
This room gets a PLATINUM for me. This is a theme that was fun, fresh, and fantastically executed. Like Ben said, bring a smaller group so that everyone can participate fully.
I give this room a PLATINUM! I had a lot of fun here – I think this would be a good room to do with a smaller group so that everybody can experience more of the room!
- Completed: August 19, 2016
- Escaped? Yes (3 people)
- Our Time: 1:00 (/1:00)
- # of hints used: 3