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Elite. Secret. Enlightened. Knowledge. These are just several words that spring to mind when I hear the word “Illuminati” and when I think of escape rooms in general. So what genius decided to make an Illuminati-themed escape room? The brilliant owners at Puzzle Workshop, that’s who! Having worked at Blizzard Entertainment for years, these owners have experience in the gaming world and know a thing or two about their puzzles.

Located in one of the commercial buildings in Irvine near the John Wayne airport, Puzzle Workshop may seem unassuming from the outside. But walk up the steps to the second story where your adventure in one of their two rooms awaits. They brief you with an informative video that describes the rules and the goal: retrieve the statue and get out.

Before you begin, you can notify the owners if you want to be given any clues. If so, they are automated on a screen inside the room, and the number of clues is unlimited. I thought this was a nice addition to the clue-giving process and this was my first time seeing something like this in a room. It seemed to also fit the theme.

The room itself is very inviting and well-decorated. The furniture is very classy and made with quality, instead of the cheap Ikea furniture one usually finds in these escape rooms. They blacked out the windows to keep players from getting distracted by the real world outside. Very nice attention to details. Very clean and well-maintained. I like the addition of the music as well. Music always adds a nice effect to the feeling of a room. It complemented the subtle storyline, which could have led to a more immersive experience.

The game itself is very mental, not physical, except for a couple of tactile puzzles, which is good as I always enjoy a bit of diversity. However, be prepared to sit down at their fine tables and put your thinking caps on, because some of the puzzles are super challenging (one in particular) and reminded me of doing homework. Having a clock countdown could distract you, so try to keep pressing forward. This room was very difficult for only three people, but 4-6 would be a good number of people for this room.

Overall, if you like challenging rooms and love solving logic puzzles, this room won’t let you down, and hopefully you can escape with the statue and keep your life in the process.

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