Where Dark Things Dwell

8.1 Overall
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Room Quality
Immersion
Puzzle Design
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Where Dark Things Dwell

  • Played August 2019
  • Toronto, ON

  • 90 minutes
  • 6 players
  • $42 CAD
  • Yes

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Traveller, do you dare venture where dark things dwell? If you’re brave enough then set your mind and heart on saving the townspeople of Black Creek Pioneer Village. Your goal is simple; collect pieces of an ancient spell that will allow the good witches of the town to destroy an evil curse that has been placed on everyone. Hurry though travellers, if you do not act quickly you will also fall to the curse and be lost forever!

Where Dark Things Dwell is an immersive, 90 minute, theatrical, escape game which uses the buildings and roadways of Black Creek Pioneer Village, (a popular tourist site for teaching school children and tourists about early pioneer life in Toronto, Canada). Because the facility is located next to York University, ample (metered) parking is available. If you prefer to keep costs at a minimum however, Black Creek Pioneer subway station is just a few minutes away by foot.
Where the Dark Things Dwell utilizes the majority of Black Pioneer village, which means there is a lot of walking from building to building, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. The game uses multiple village buildings, as well as outdoor village spaces, for the full effect of the story. Depending on the day of the week, there’s either one or two performances, with each time slot allowing up to 10 teams of 6, for a total of 60 people.

When we first arrived at Where Dark Things Dwell, we were checked in by one of the employees from Secret City Adventures and promptly received a stamp on our hands. All participants were then seated in a debriefing room that had 10 tables with 6 chairs. Each table had a team number, a map, multiple lanterns, and clipboards set up to prepare us for our journey. Pre-game entertainment, as well as purchasable or complimentary refreshments weren’t available, so we suggest you bring a water bottle, or snacks if you don’t plan on eating in advance. We appreciated that the debriefing room was locked during the game – which made us feel better about leaving our valuables behind. Our game master did an excellent job of explaining the rules with an immersive flair, all set to some cultish background music. We immediately felt immersed in the storyline and could not wait to get started!

The actors ushered all the participants into the barn where they dramatically acted out the introduction of the game. Each team of 6 started in a different building so our first task was to figure out where we were going on the map. Our team found the room quality quite good as we were thrilled to see that Secret City not only utilized the majority of the village, but they used each room’s natural props to their best advantage. We also learned it is important to be gentle with many of the existing props and authentic period pieces in the rooms.
Our team was most impressed with the immersion of the game. The actors never broke character which provided an ongoing interactive component to the game. We really felt like we were talking to villagers desperate to escape the curse that had been placed on them. As mentioned above, props and puzzles were all thematically appropriate which maximized the impact of the storyline. Even though our team started at 7pm and had a good chunk of daylight in the beginning, we loved the fact that it got dark closer to the end of the game. Once it gets dark, you REALLY feel like you are trapped in this village. It was definitely a sight to see all the lanterns floating around in the darkness – there was just something eerily beautiful about it. Because of this, we strongly suggest the later time slot if you want to experience the full visual effect. Those who don’t enjoy a creepy atmosphere or dark dwellings, may prefer the earlier time slot however.

The puzzles all flowed very well and stayed true to the theme. We also liked that each room had 3 puzzles to solve so teams could split up with 2 people working on each puzzle. This helped with efficiency of keeping the flow going in each room and with the general structure and organization of the game. We found there was a lot of variation with the puzzles, with no puzzle being similar in all the rooms but each was enjoyable and relatively straight-forward. The hint system is dependent on the improv skills of the actors so asking questions will definitely help you along your way. The use of laminated paper was a bit of a drawback to the immersive design of the game, but we understood the need to preserve the items/documents.

Was it fun? Absolutely! Was it an epic adventure? 100%. Our entire team had an amazing time. It was nice to have such a big space and especially to have the opportunity to be outside at times. Not many escape rooms have such variation in atmosphere and we were impressed with the planning that went into creating this experience. It’s also a bonus that you get to explore Black Pioneer Village and feel that you are traveling back in time for one evening. Hands down, it’s one of the best big group games there is and the best part is that it’s replayable! Since there are so many buildings and outdoor spaces used throughout the game, you can request to start in a different building each time. We recommend Where Dark Things Dwell for anyone looking for an immersive escape room!

Final Verdict:

8.1/10

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