Illusion, Michael. A trick is something…
Our journey back in time to the 1915 Worlds Fair began with a mini-history lesson regarding The Great Harry Houdini, as well as quite a few of his contemporary innovators, all of whom ended up playing their own role throughout the experience. Our game master was enthusiastic and had a great personal touch. He was able to set up the story and encourage group participation from the start, all without having our eyes glaze over. I will admit that part of the introduction did conjure up thoughts of Arrested Development’s Alliance of Magicians for some of our crew, after details regarding one of Houdini’s famous escapes were shared by our game master.
While unrelated to our ranking of the room, one of my favorite memories from Palace Games will forever be the hand-drawn version of Murray’s skydiving ferret tattoo from the Impractical Jokers that Question Mark (the subtle moniker of our Game Master), randomly included on the board with our team name. I have been a fan ever since I heard Q talk about the possibility of the show on an episode of Tell Em’ Steve-Dave! (and even had the privilege of attending one of their live shows in Tampa a few years back). Long story long, I was thoroughly delighted and this may have factored directly into why I volunteered to (aka immediately called dibs on) writing this review.
As the Escape Junkies are on the larger side for as enthusiasts’ group, we enjoy rooms encouraging (or demanding) teamwork, and The Great Houdini‘s puzzles delivered on multiple occasions. While some of the puzzles were intricate, they were enjoyable and the fact that there were numerous side puzzles that could be solved at any time to help work towards the main objective was a plus.
Many of the escape rooms we’ve tackled as a group have employed puzzles that we would consider individual, unrelated tasks, that when combined, lead to your successful escape. This was not the case here, as it was refreshing to see various elements and themes carried throughout various puzzles. The variety of puzzles encountered was also enjoyable, from those requiring a physical component to those requiring a blind adherence to instructions.
The decor supporting The Great Houdini was also of a very high quality, consisting of numerous posters and thematic elements relevant to the time period, and the man himself. As Escape Junkie Montez, Escape Junkie Kyle, and I discussed immediately after our escape, several moments we experienced and created truly felt Houdini-esque.
The Not So Good
While immersion isn’t necessarily the biggest focal point for this room, any time a hint system requires that a Game Master enter the room to check your progress, it feels a bit outdated. We understand there may be some restrictions due to the historic nature of the venue, but this did stand out relative to the quality of the rest of the experience provided. Especially when compared to some of the more unique hint giving systems we encountered during our California tour (and in the past).
I would also be remiss if I did not mention that there was a moment where Escape Junkie Kyle was almost struck by something occurring as the result of our progression through the room. While I doubt he was ever in any significant danger, and it was exciting to experience from afar, it seemed like could pose a bit of a safety concern if the stars ever aligned just right.
Palace Games does an excellent job integrating the historic feel of their iconic venue into The Great Houdini (something they also do well in their Roosevelt and Edison rooms). Beautifully designed set pieces, props, and puzzles all work together to incorporate themes and elements not only of Houdini himself but his contemporary innovators. While Question Mark told us that this was the first room Palace Games designed, seeming to suggest to us that the lessons learned and technical advances would put Roosevelt and Edison on another level (especially in terms of the tech involved), The Great Houdini was by far my favorite of the three. 5/5
- Location: Palace Games
- Time Limit: 80 Minutes
- Number of Players: Up to 10 (Palace Games recommends 6)
- Recommended Skill Level: Intermediate