Abracapocus! Hocus Cadabra! – Room: KAZAM! – February 17, 2019

ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you had a magic kit as a kid

Avoid if… you are always trying to find the spoiler behind the trick.


THE BASICS

Puzzah! – Denver location:

Address: 1440 Blake St, #150, Denver, CO 80202 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 303-534-5477
https://www.puzzah.com/denver/

The Room – Kazam!:

Description (from the company website): Welcome to Kellar Kazam’s attic, filled with clocks and magical delights. Armed with only a pair of special glasses, you have to unravel the mystery of Kazam’s disappearance. Skilled apprentices may unlock bonus challenges concealed among his personal effects. Are you worthy of carrying on his legacy?

Mission Objectives:

    • Standard – Open the secret clock
    • Advanced – Solve Kazam’s mystery
    • Expert – Reveal bonus puzzles

Difficulty (1-10)Medium-Hard

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $27

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 2-5

Staging Area: This place has a nice entryway and desk that opens to a large lobby with tables and seating. Restrooms are towards the back of the main room.

Metro Access/Parking: We don’t purport to know anything about the public transit system, but there is a municipal lot on the corner and street parking if you can get it.


OUR EXPERIENCE

This is the video we took before we entered the room:

This is the video we took just after we completed the room:

Note: The ERG were given the opportunity to try out this room for free, with the understanding that we would continue to provide an honest review and follow the same process we’ve used on all of our other ratings.

Logistics:

Description of the room: A small room that looks like an attic that is filled with magical memorabilia.

Understanding of the Mission: Find out what happened to Kellar Kazam, who disappeared during his final show, and prove yourselves worthy of being his apprentices.

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: 4:55 remaining, however, we solved ALL of the bonus puzzles (aka BUZZLES!!)

Our Suggested Party Size: 4-5, the recommendation, was good. It got a little crowded at times, but we made it work.

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Greg, Heather, and Steph D.

Worth the time and money? Absolutely!

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:


OUR SCORING:

JASON SAYS: MIKE SAYS:
Overall Expectation (Summary)
This was a new location for us and the first room we’ve done, to date, in Denver. We had heard good things about Puzzah! and they came highly recommended from another owner, so we kind of had to go (twist my arm why dont’cha). They welcomed us immediately and were already having a discussion with Mike and Heather when Steph and I arrived.

They have some unique game play elements for each game (different difficulties, bonus puzzles (BUZZLES!!!!!), game play scoring), so you’ll find something for everyone. Not to mention some cool sounding themes to choose from (so, again, you’ll find something for everyone).

We were in Colorado Springs for a long weekend but really wanted to check out Denver too. I have an old friend who lives in Boulder, so it made sense to meet up in Denver for an afternoon.

I scouted some locations in the city and we reached out to the team at Puzzah!, who also came highly recommended from another owner that Jason knew.

Trying to find out which room to do was a challenge. They all looked interesting, but I think it was the magic theme, multiple levels of the mission, and the on-the-fly adjustments for time/completion that include BONUS puzzles (which I accidentally coined buzzles in the post-room video) that really secured our decision.

Story (Rating)
Following the finale of his last Las Vegas show, Kazam disappeared! No one has seen him since and you’ve decided, as his apprentices, it’s time to look for him, so you head to his attic in search of rumored clues to his disappearance.

If you can find the clues, and his whereabouts, you just might prove that you are worthy of becoming full fledged magicians yourself.

(It’s also exceedingly rare that I find myself rating a story with a 10 but this one has a lot going on aside from what I’ve briefly described.)

Rating: 10/10

The world famous magician, Kellar Kazam, did such a good job at his last Vegas show that he made himself disappear (just like all that money people take with them to the casinos)… and that was the last that anyone ever saw of him. You are a team of his apprentices who are looking for your mentor, and start the search in his attic. There are mysterious things in there, and it is rumored there might be clues that could lead you to where Kazam went.

IF you can find out the secret to his last trick, you might prove yourselves worthy of becoming full-fledged magicians yourselves.

This was a pretty awesome theme. Lots of detail in the story briefing and it’s really different from anything we had ever done before. The story itself ties you into it as his former apprentices (so there is a “personal” connection) that helps immerse you into the theme, which becomes more complex (as a good magic show should) the further you get into it.

Rating: 9/10

Mission (Rating)
So, when I said earlier they have different difficulties, I can’t say I necessarily misspoke, but it’s just the way they have the game set up. Maybe instead of saying difficulty levels, we can call it…umm… Ok I don’t have a good name but I’ll explain anyway.

As you progress through the room, the game changes what puzzle you run into next on the fly based on how quickly you’ve solved everything up to that point. So if you’re flying through like we did, you can get to Expert level, which meant we unlocked all of the bonus puzzles (now known as BUZZLES).

So what was our mission? Effectively, solve the mystery of Kazam’s disappearance. Where did he go??? The BUZZLES (and yes, I’m going to capitalize it every damn time because it’s friggin’ HILARIOUS  to me (it’s in the post-room video above, at the 32 second mark)) further the story along but don’t give you anything needed specifically to solve the mystery; they are more like a ‘what happened leading up to his actual disappearance’; fluff if you will. It’s a really cool and unique concept.

Rating: 8/10

Overall, the mission is pretty simple: find out what happened to Kellar Kazam and graduate to becoming full magicians.

HOWEVER, as with magic, things aren’t as easy as they seem. This room and theme has a few different mission parameters that scale the faster you play. Overall, you need to figure out how to get in his secret clock (standard mission). If you play the game fast enough, you “unlock” the advanced mission parameter of being able to solve the mystery of Kazam’s whereabouts. IF you play the game really, really well, then you unlock bonus puzzles that unveil themselves as you play the rest of the room at expert level.

So, for the scalability of the play and the adjustment on the fly, I have to rate this pretty high. And bonus puzzles (buzzles)…

Rating: 9/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
This room was magical to me (yes, pun intended). I still love magic (think what you will of me but I don’t care) and that was one of the things that drew me to this room.

There was nothing that I can recall seeing anywhere else and everything was well crafted. I don’t really even want to talk about how you go about opening the locked boxes, so suffice it to say you won’t be messing with combo locks for 60 minutes.

But seriously, there were clocks EVERYWHERE, like a scene from Peter Pan or something. It was crazy. And the locked boxes are scattered around the room in a way that made me frustrated but curious (I really am just so used to seeing a box with a lock on it waiting for me to spin some dials…).

Regardless, there was logic, visual association, reading comprehension (I know, right??), among other things. There’s something for everyone (like I said earlier) in this room IMO.

Rating: 10/10

FINALLY, a room based on magic that doesn’t depend on combination locks… where have you been all my escape room life?

The puzzles in this room were really well done. They were… clever. They made you work the room vs. the mechanisms of what you thought were the puzzles themselves. It was a room that really tested our observational skills, and then flipped what we THOUGHT we needed to do (or would happen) with something completely different. They really worked on bending perception in this room, and that was a lot of the fun. What you see is NOT what you get.

I LOVED a few of the puzzles here. One involved something you likely use every day, but never think about (I solved this one… thankyouverymuch, and it was truly a “lightbulb over the head turning on moment”… thank god for a class I had in 7th grade).

There is another huge puzzle in the room that tests your mental endurance, but I’m not going to say much more about this. Ok, I’ll give you a hint: take your Ritalin if you need to beforehand.

Another puzzle I liked only could be solved if you resisted your natural inclination to mess with it.

And, as I said… no combination locks. Lots of tech in the room, that pop things open once you have it done right, and a pretty cool hint delivery system too.

Overall, this room was filled with a variety of puzzles that anyone could work to solve. My buddy, Greg, had never done a room before (another Escape Room Virgin!), and after taking some time to show him how things worked, he was offering his own suggestions on how to solve the puzzles… and buzzles.

Rating: 10/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
This room was tough, but that’s also somewhat because we solved the 3 BUZZLES in addition to the rest of the room.

I wouldn’t say anything was extra hard, more like tricky. Which I like. A hard puzzle for the sake of a hard puzzle is no fun for anyone. A tricky puzzle that makes you look at it upside down or sideways (or slantways if your name is Willy Wonka) will always win in my book. I like puzzles that make you look at things in non-obvious ways. The payoff is better.

I would put the difficulty range at 3-8. Pretty decent spread.

Rating: 8.5/10

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the puzzles in the room were overly difficult. They challenged your normal perception as to how you think they might be solved. The difficulty was in the way the puzzles were designed to make you overthink how they might be solved, so coming into this with pre-conceived notions on what you’ve seen in other rooms might actually hurt you here.

I do love how they use what you find in the room (don’t assume that things are there simply for ambiance) but also flip things upside down on how you THINK they should be used. Our team did well suspending any previous experience and looking at the puzzles in a new way, which helped us move pretty quickly.

Rating: 8/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
The way you solve the puzzles throughout the room feeds directly into how the room flowed, and I really don’t really to give it away, so I’ll be as straightforwardly cryptic as I can.

The game progresses you through very cleanly, but this makes it pretty linear. You can go about trying to solve puzzles in any order you wish, multiple paths at a time, but you won’t be able to progress until you…provide an answer. That’s how it becomes linear.

The room definitely looked like an attic (complete with window and tree branches), with random paraphernalia strewn about. Everyone in its place, though.

Rating: 8.5/10

The decoration of the room adds to the experience… you feel like you’re in the old attic of a magician who has been storing old tricks and props there for years. There is even a window that you can “see” through that would totally fit what you’d expect.

While the game has a lot of puzzles that can be worked on, you do need to solve them in a somewhat particular order, which makes the room a bit linear. This can easily be forgiven because there is enough for everyone to work on without all being crowded around the same thing, and you can unlock the bonus puzzles if you move quickly enough. The bonus puzzles are SUPER cool and I hope you get to play them.

Plus, even with a somewhat linear design, they have the room rated for exactly how many people would best fit to have a great experience.

I will also say that I liked how you got your hints in this room and how. they integrated that tech into the story line.

Rating: 8.5/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
This was a fun room overall. It has a lot going for it and makes me wonder what the other 3 are like. Guess I’ll have to go back, right? This was another room that I simply had fun in… lots of problem-solving and puzzles to play with, but nothing that caused anxiety or frustration. I’m looking forward to checking out their other rooms the next time I’m in the area.
Game Master (Summary)
Our “GM” was good. All I’m going to say. Our GM did exactly what was expected… maybe a bit impersonal at times, but that’s what you get when you’re trying to find out a magician’s secret to his show-stopping magic trick.
How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
The clues were somewhat helpful. Maybe a bit… repetitive, but you’ll understand why at some point. We asked for help a couple of times and we got exactly what we needed in order to move forward… no more, no less.
RAGE Meter ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
Nothing to really report on here.

Fists – 0/5

I didn’t feel stupid at all, so no rating here.

FacePalms – 0/5

ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 8.95/10

Final Thought: We loved the tech. We loved the theme. We loved the buzzles. It was a helluva good time and so much fun. We’re looking forward to checking out their other rooms.

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