- Played August 2016
- 60 minutes
- 2-6 players
- What People Say
Imagine this: you are taking a stroll on the Toronto boardwalk, with the wind in your hair and the sand at your feet and you stumble across an escape game. You think it’s a mirage, because “an escape game, near the beach?” Well, you may not get to do an escape from Lake Ontario but you certainly can get close because the fine folks at the Escape Station have brought four creative escape rooms to the Toronto Beaches neighbourhood.
Convenient location aside, the two owners of the Escape Station are gracious hosts. They are both kind, friendly and welcoming and are happy to talk about their history of escape games (like many, they thought it wouldn’t be for them and got addicted)! I think it’s important to note that while talking with them, we discovered that they hand-crafted these rooms from scratch. They created and thought out the puzzles, built the infrastructure and designed everything right down to some very cool 3D printed contraptions. Their efforts are very clear! Our first stop was the lobby, where tables with small puzzles are set up as you wait for your room. The waiting area is clean and spacious, but a bit sparse and could definitely benefit from some more pre-game activities (like board games and cards) especially in a location surrounded by high schools.
In terms of pre-room experience, I was hoping for a little more “umph”. We were brought into the Museum Heist room (our second room of the evening) and we were read a short story off of a clipboard. It was interesting enough, but I didn’t feel like I was really being brought into the story. If I was a robber trying to get a one-of-a-kind diamond, I certainly did not feel that way (and as someone with a theatre background, I want to BE the robber). I think the pre-room experience could benefit from a facelift – maybe a more in-depth story that is acted out with enthusiasm and characters, or even a video since the technology is already present in the room.
The quality of the room was excellent. Like I mentioned before, the two owners spent a lot of time hand-crafting both the room’s appearance and the puzzles that went with them. Overall the room was well-executed; the space really was made to look like a room in a museum and the props and art were fitting for the theme. The use of mechanics in this room really amped up the quality of the space as well. I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of work and effort that went into creating this room.
The immersion in this room could have been tighter. While at first the puzzles and clues seemed to tie fluidly into the theme, this dropped a bit through the course of the room and the puzzles no longer seemed to connect to the overall “museum heist” theme. Due to this, and the lackluster pre-room story, it became hard to commit to the theme and the role we were supposed to be playing, which is unfortunate because the concept is a classic.
I think more than anything, the puzzle quality needs a little bit of work. For one, the path of this room is entirely linear, which means that everyone needs to be working on every step of the escape at the same time. This left people waiting around, or not having anything to do while a few people focused on the puzzle. I also think that some of the puzzles really required a stretch in logic to complete, which became frustrating over time. Like I’ve said throughout, a better link between the puzzles and the actual theme of the room would really up the ante in this experience.
Now, I know what you’re really waiting for: was it fun? The answer is yes, I really did have a great time in this room. It was so well-constructed and it looked exactly like what it was supposed to be, which made it exciting. I will say, however, that I think this room would be better for a smaller group because it is a small space and there aren’t multiple things to work on at the same time.
I would definitely recommend this room to those who enjoy escape games, but I think it would be perfect for those who are newer to the escape room scene. Escape Station has a lot going for it already, and I think with a few tweaks to the puzzles and a little more effort in storytelling and immersion, this place really will be a “diamond” amongst Toronto’s escape games.