The Carnival Heist

7.6 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
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The Carnival Heist

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This Clue Carre location (there is another in Metairie) is nestled between Canal and Poydras Streets in downtown New Orleans. It’s very close to the NOLA scene, but the Union St location feels calm in comparison to the crazed atmosphere that envelops this part of the city. Access is pretty easy with street car stations nearby along with some street parking. If you’re a visitor to the city, then you’re also within walking distance to many hotels. The storefront was easy to find using our map and the lobby was big, bright and airy. We found plenty of places to sit, some table puzzles, items for sale (t-shirts are only for successful escapees!) and a lock ’n key orientated interior design. The staff was quick to greet us and very friendly throughout our time there. We started with a quirky rules video followed by a plot description by our gamemaster. It felt a little out of place to have the story explained in the lobby. The pre-room script for The Carnival Heist is fairly long, but sets the stage well for what’s to come. As fans of the elusive “immersive” escape room experience, we felt that the transition from lobby to room popped us out of character even more things got started. Overall, this is quite standard and Clue Carre did it better than most.

The room quality of The Carnival Heist was quite good. We didn’t notice anything broken and nothing was out of place for the scenario. But, the space felt overly prepared for escape room deterioration. This is always a struggle for game designers because the realities of the experience warrant extra protection. We’re never fans of laminated props, but we understand that wear and tear can be an ongoing struggle. Some of the props were fantastic and clearly built to last. One of the play areas was really well designed and was on par with some of the top room builds we’ve seen.

Our team had different opinions about the immersion of this room partly because we began the experience in locations. One start area was rather sparse, which does fit the theme, but doesn’t live up to the other more intensely decorated room. The communication system also gave a unique spin on the room and was experienced in different ways. Throughout the game we were presented with plot points to help with immersion, however almost everything was directly connected to a puzzle. This made our experience feel more like a puzzle room than an immersive escape room. The clue-via-screen system was a bit of a detriment to the immersion as well. Considering the method of communications in this room and its theme, we felt that there could be a less technical way to connect with the gamemaster that would have achieved the same goals while also enhancing the immersion. Plus, immersion could have been pushed a little further with lighting and sounds to reinforce the “heist” atmosphere—we didn’t feel that clock-ticking rush or stress once we got into the puzzle solving. That said, this level of immersion is common in the industry and The Carnival Heist was still better than your average escape room.

It’s clear that Clue Carre has been in business for many years. They know how to build a cohesive room, with the right number and variety of puzzles. There is plenty to do for a group of 4-6 (although 6 might feel a bit cramped at the beginning). There are puzzles that require complex logic, spacial awareness, focused reading, communication and teamwork. We love to see rooms that don’t get stuck in a rut of repeating the same puzzle style. Some of the logic puzzles are fairly complex, so make sure to bring your thinking cap and (as always!) ask your team for help if you get stuck. Puzzles themselves were challenging, but didn’t feel completely aligned with theme until the end sequences. Cooperation is key, which makes it ideal for team building outings and groups of friends.

The Carnival Heist was a fun and challenging experience. There are a lot of puzzles and plenty of opportunity for everyone to shine. The gameplay didn’t build up as much “robbery” excitement as we would have liked, but with a clean build and well-thought-out path, you can’t go wrong here. City rooms are always going to be smaller than their suburban cousins, but Clue Carre has done an excellent job of making the most out of what they’ve got. This rooms is best suited to medium groups and some escape experience will help you if you’re intent on getting out in sixty minutes. We care much more about having a good time and this room did not disappoint!

Final Verdict:


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