Augustine’s Pilfered Soul
Exhilarating Escapes is located in Normal, Illinois, near Illinois State University. The building was easy to find and had parking available. Inside there was plenty of seating, games and activities, as well as water and tea available (complimentary). Our host (the owner of the company) was incredibly friendly and polite, and got us started on our game right away. There was no video to introduce the game, however, we were verbally told the rules of the game as well as the backstory to our room.
Upon entering the room, we were excited to get started! Our first impression of the quality of the set was that it was quite inconsistent. There were really amazing pieces, like a large, old, heavy piano, and an antique-looking television, however, there was also cardboard covering the windows. Easy switches, such as swapping out the cardboard on the windows for blackout curtains or blackout paint or upgrading some of the props from plastic to a more durable and well-made material would make this room look more authentic and a better quality. That being said, we definitely loved the piano and old television, and a set with more of that style/type of prop would be wonderful! Immersion was inconsistent, as well, albeit partially due to the room quality. There were built-in tricks and surprises to keep immersion and make the game more interactive, however, music would have helped significantly to get us into the feel of the room. We did love the added interactive elements, which we think would be even more fun with a bigger group.
In terms of puzzle design, all of the puzzles fit the theme of the room, however, some of the puzzles needed a more direct clue (we don’t want to give too much away…). The owner definitely has the right idea, and a few tweaks and breadcrumbs would help the player to connect the clues and puzzles to the proper answer. This room is linear and does follow a story arc with a clear objective, we just would have liked more in-depth and direct clues and puzzles.
Did we have fun? We were glad we went to this room, and we think it has great potential. We loved the surprise wow factor at the end, and the different elements that made the room more interactive, but a more immersive room would have made this experience even more fun. They have only been open for about 8 months, so with time and some tweaks/adjustments it will be even better. We would recommend this room for newer players to understand the concept and mechanics of an escape room. Bigger groups would also enjoy the interactive elements more, however, there would not be a ton for a large group to all be working on.