The Copper Club
The Copper Club
- Played July 2018
- Guelph, ON
- 60 minutes
- 2-4 players
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Guelph is a small, agriculturally focused city often described as the “environmental capital of Ontario”. It’s home to the University of Guelph where thousands of students focus on subjects such as environmental sciences and engineering. Located about one hour West of Toronto, Guelph also lays claim to some interesting historical folklore. Infamous Chicago mobster Al Capone was reported to be using several tunnels and chambers beneath the city of Guelph where he stored and shipped alcohol during the days of Prohibition… Almost a century later, a local fruit and vegetable market is opened near the heart of downtown Guelph and seems suspiciously popular while its competitors struggle. The Copper Club as it’s known seems to attract all sorts of unsavoury types and it’s up to you to help Guelph police detectives uncover what’s going on…
Our visit to Khronos Gauntlet started with a strong first impression. Parking is limited to city streets and lots, but the signage was visible and the location was easy to find. Our Sunday visit posed no problems for finding a spot so there shouldn’t be any issues in getting there. As we entered the lobby we noticed plenty of seating, refreshments, and best of all… a wall mounted tv playing The Princess Bride! There were several gadgets to play with in addition to other ornaments and things to keep us occupied while we waited. Initially the one staff member on duty seemed bored and disinterested, but was still polite. As more staff and customers arrived her energy levels did rise a bit and we started to enjoy interacting with her. The room introduction was delivered in the ‘old school’ format of reciting it from a script, but was well memorized and managed to capture our interest… All in all, a strong start!
The room quality was fairly average for the most part. The Copper Club made good use of the small space they had to work with. We also took note special note of certain props and furniture added in the set design we liked. At the same time, there were a few things we felt suffered from a lack of budget and detail. Thin plastic props were used in addition to extensive use of laminate which in some cases was peeling. Most of us felt the transformation from an office space to a storefront / speakeasy was well done for the most part. Again, the mix of pros and cons to this room design make it a fairly decent and average room.
Many of our followers have pointed out immersion is one criteria the ERA team often has differing opinions on. We’ve noticed that also and thankfully it’s because we work well together as a team… “Wait…how does that make any sense?’’ Well… you’ll rarely find ERA members crowding around the same information, puzzles, and features within a room so the experiences each member has depends on what they interacted with the most. The more impressive (or disappointing) all parts of a room’s immersion are, the more our perspectives are united because it wouldn’t have mattered where our focus was within the room. In most cases however, escape rooms are often designed with one or two impressive features, while other parts of the room feel rushed or compromised in their design. The Copper Club definitely falls into the latter category. Some of us felt the story was present, worked well within the design, and had some great ambiance particularly through lighting and props. Others felt the story was simply overlaid on the puzzles and that a Nickelodeon set was used. (Note: ‘Nickelodeon set design’ is a new term coined by ERA describing a set that has been intentionally shrunk and designed to fill a smaller space while representing a much larger space. Think of the set designs on any current Disney pre-teen show, or even older shows like Saved By The Bell. On that show you had most of a high-school represented within a 20x20ft set. In one corner you had a small series of lockers, three feet away you had the entrance to a classroom, another three feet further and you’re at the stairs, the opposite wall has the principal’s office… etc, etc, etc. Actors moved within this 20×20 space to give the impression they were moving throughout the whole school, even though we, the viewers, could see they had only moved about six feet from their original position…that’s a Nickelodeon Set, and as mentioned it was the design choice of The Copper Club).
One thing we all agreed on however was that the puzzles were the Achilles Heel. We felt they lacked direction and intuition in various places. One area we particularly struggled with was with the amount of detailed searching required in this game. Generally speaking we know that a moderate amount of searching for clues within the room allows everyone to get involved and is inclusive by nature. Fine, detailed, searching has the opposite effect however by testing people’s concentration levels and often allowing only one person to search over a particular item or area. The feeling of frustration from detailed searching combined with information that didn’t intuitively match with their associated puzzles was emotionally draining for us because we felt like we must’ve been missing something obvious. There were a few bright spots however. One prop in particular had a neat function and we enjoyed interacting with it and how it was integrated into the puzzles. All in all, the puzzles were a bit disappointing however.
Let’s look at what really matters… Did we have fun? In this case it depended greatly on where each team member’s energy levels were at by the end of the experience. Some of us were emotionally wiped out from the puzzles, whereas others on the team with longer attention spans had a relatively good time. In short, The Copper Club is very much a personal experience that will change from group to group and person to person. Would we recommend it? Perhaps for a smaller group of 2-3 people who have a lot of patience and don’t mind detailed searching, yes, this would be a fairly enjoyable room. If you don’t fall into that category however, we’d recommend The Wizard’s Tower which had a bit more pacing and things to do, even if it was also very searching based. The people at Khronos Gauntlet were great and we could see a genuine desire to keep improving, so we know the experience will be improved upon to include more people. Until then, best be keepin’ your head down and don’t tell the coppers nuttin’ about what you learned inside the Copper Club, you get it?
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