Everyone has that creepy uncle.
- Website: Sidequests
Address: 10190 104 Street NW, Basement, Edmonton, AB T5J 1A7
- Private Booking: Yes
- Price: $23.81 per person
- Duration: 45 minutes
- Linearity: Mixed
- Group size: #small
- Player Level: #competent
- Premise: “Uncle Willard was always a really weird guy. Not that there was anything wrong with him, but he always struck you as odd. Paranoid maybe, but harmless. That was before you got the package with his scrawled signature on it containing some rather cryptic instructions and a desperate plea for help…”
This was our first (and second) time at Sidequests doing Uncle. It’s located in the heart of downtown Edmonton, within walking distance of Logic Lock and Eescape. We were greeted by board games, candies, and video game tunes upon entering the lobby. They also take your picture at the beginning instead of at the end which was cute. Overall, customer service was solid.
Service was great both times we went – they got us in quickly and with a smile.
The puzzles were a good mix of searching, logic, and visual puzzles. There is something for everyone here. Individually the puzzles were strong in creativity.
Initially, the progression was fine enough, as we were led to believe it was linear and straightforward. However, it diverted without warning which caught us off-guard.
There was a good variety of puzzles in this room (as there tends to be in lockless/low-lock rooms), but something about them just felt a little bit clunky. I think it might have been the progression – there is a journal involved in this room, which may have caused (what I thought) was a bit of a funky flow. My main complaint was that there wasn’t really a climax. There was something that I think was supposed to be it, but it didn’t feel very climactic to me.
Another thing that was a little bit off for me was the “reward” that we get from solving a couple of the puzzles. There was an instance where something was supposed to happen as a result of us solving a puzzle, but there wasn’t anything that we could easily observe. We then thought that we had done the puzzle wrong, so we spent a lot of time troubleshooting first by ourselves, then over the walkie talkie with a staff member. It turns out that we did trigger what was supposed to happen – it’s just that there was nothing in the room that told us that we did. Fortunately, it seems like this was fixed for our second visit, so no one else should have this issue!
We were a group of 2. Like Ben said below, this room was tiny even for us. There were multiple portions in this room that were even tinier than the main portion. This made it difficult to coordinate arm movements and body positioning to solve certain puzzles that required teamwork.
Other than that, I thought the look itself had a certain charm, like what your grandmother’s house in the countryside would look like.
This room is tiny. Like, really small. There were some parts where we were tripping over each other to try to solve a puzzle together. And we aren’t even large people.
That said, it was a nice looking room though. It was charming and cozy in an eccentric way, which I think was what they were going for!
From what I gather, few groups have completed this room on their first try. What that tells me is that this room was designed with repeat play in mind, meaning you go back and play again to see the ending(s) (which is what we did).
Consequently, immersion becomes tricky to grade because neither experience can ever feel complete: On your first try, you don’t finish because it’s improbable. On your second, you hurriedly do the things you’ve already done just so you can get to the part you haven’t encountered, rendering the overall experience diluted.
One of the things I love about Sidequests is how your experience starts in the lobby. There’s a few things they do before you even get into the room that orients you to what the room is going to be like. The pre-room part of our game was a lot of fun and made me want to start right away, but the room itself didn’t quite capture me with its puzzles or the set design.
I also mentioned a little bit further up in Puzzles how we were troubleshooting with the staff over the walkie talkie – this actually took us about 4-5 minutes, which definitely pulled me out of the game for a bit.
From the website: “Uncle Willard was always a really weird guy. Not that there was anything wrong with him, but he always struck you as odd.”
The theme was begging for a cohesive story, which wasn’t there. Just like Uncle Willard, the theme was really weird. Even after doing the room twice and seeing the ending, I still don’t know what our mission truly was.
Just like the puzzle progression and the look, I thought the theme was a bit strangely executed. Uncle Willard has a secret that you’re supposed to uncover, but when you actually do, it doesn’t really feel that mindblowing. I was also hoping that we would get to do a bit more within that secret – I feel like we didn’t get to interact with it in a meaningful way.
I would give this room a #gold. While the creative aspects of this room were plentiful, there was just a certain strangeness to the room that I can’t quite put my finger on. In any case, if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, I’d still recommend this room.
This room gets a #gold. I may have been a bit harsh here, but like Mr. P said, there was just something off about this room. It’s not bad by any means – just different! I would still definitely recommend this room if you want something that isn’t the typical lock-and-combo room. Go with a smaller group!
- Completed: September 2016
- Escaped? Ending A + C (2 people)
- Our Points: 600 + 650
- Number of hints used: 3