The Circus

6.8 Overall
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The Circus

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A creepy clown by the name of Uncle Tick-Tock has lost his nose and with it all of his magic. Maybe not so coincidentally, circus performers and employees are being horrifically picked off one by one…You and your team must split up as you only have one hour to find Uncle Tick-Tocks nose before suffering the same fate!

Located at Escape Room Novi, the circus was the second of two rooms that we experienced at this location. Escape Room Novi is located in Novi, Michigan, about 30 minutes North West of Detroit. The location itself is extremely accessible and easy to find as it is located in the Fountain Walk Plaza so needless to say, there is a ton of signage and more than adequate parking. Escape Room Novi occupies two storefronts within the plaza which is needed as there are 10 rooms to choose from. One thing to note though is that they do only utilize one entrance so when we first arrived, there were quite a few larger groups in the lobby which was quite chaotic. They do have two seating areas/ lobbies with a decent amount of seating and refreshments available to purchase but since only one entrance is used, it can be banana lands if there are more than three or four groups. Once The Circus was ready, we were separated into two teams and followed Austin, our INCREDIBLE game master from our first room in to Big Top. Once inside, a fairly unnerving video debrief takes place before clock starts.

The first couple things you notice when you walk in to the circus (depending on which side you start on) is both the scale of the room and the amount of props/ things going on. The props found throughout the room are a mixture of really great and flimsy but overall the quality of the items within the room is good. The next thing our team noticed was that the walls are spray painted to try and mimic the effect of a circus tent. We would have loved to have seen either a canvas or tent material as we found the painted walls really took us out of the experience and detracted from the rest of the room’s solid decor. Unfortunately, our team also ran in to quite a few tech issues throughout our time in The Circus in the form of broken/delayed tech, doors and cabinets re-locking once opened and even a weak mag lock that allowed us to bypass puzzles all together. These issues are certainly understandable though given that Escape Room Novi is a high volume environment that caters to families and larger groups. All that being said there were some really cool details, tech and props that are found throughout the room including one WOW prop that we wouldn’t dare spoil for you here.

How immersive was the circus? Well, that depends on which one of our team members you ask. The unsettling video that you watch in the beginning certainly sets the mood and gets you on the right track, however, the story does not really develop past that point. There is a soundtrack that is played throughout the game that is comprised of your typical Circus noises and is eventually “complimented” via the activation of certain props/ puzzles. This was another topic of debate between our team as some found it overstimulating and annoying and others felt it added to immersive chaos. The puzzles were all certainly thematically correct though some may have felt a bit out of place. Lastly, some of the members on our team felt like the story should have been set in an abandoned circus rather than an active one as that is how it felt to them.

Our team wants to make it very clear that there are a lot of puzzles in The Circus and by a lot we mean a ton! There is certainly room for debate whether or not quantity outweighs quality but in the case of The Circus, our team would have certainly preferred quality. It should also be noted that Escape Room Novi claims that The Circus is their most difficult room. So difficult in fact, that prior to our escape (you didn’t think that we would fail did you?), only three teams have previously gotten out. Our team can go on record and confirm that The Circus is in fact a VERY challenging room. This can partly be attributed to the sheer volume of puzzles in the room and the fact that for a good chunk of time you are separated and need to rely heavily on your teammates on the other side of the circus. It can also be attributed to the fact that a few of the puzzles that you encounter are what many would consider to be “broken” puzzles with very little instructions and extremely loose associations. There were also a couple puzzles that didn’t function as they should have including the weak magnetic lock we encountered which allowed us to unknowingly bypass an entire puzzle. That being said, there were a lot of really fun puzzles and tasks that we encountered throughout the room including multiple WOW moments. It was a really cool and fun experience actually getting to play games that you would find at a carnival/ circus and have it intertwined with the progression of the room.

So, ultimately, was The Circus fun?…Well that depends on which one of our team members you ask and possibly what side you start on. Two of our team members had Big Top sized fun until the issues started occurring more frequently and while the other two still had fun, it was marginally less. We think the best way to describe The Circus is a very difficult room that is extremely ambitious. Unfortunately, we felt that it fell a little bit short of its ambitions but with a little bit of polish and redesign it could very easily live up to its potential!

Final Verdict:

6.8/10

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