Red Sled Redemption
Red Sled Redemption
- Played November 2019
- Kissimmee, FL
- 45 minutes
- 2-6 players
- What People Say
When members of our Toronto ERA team told our Orlando team they’d be heading down to see them for a week, one question was immediately asked: ‘’So do you guys want to go play Doldrick’s?!!’’ The answer of course was a resounding ‘’Yes!’’ Word has spread throughout the industry about how great the rooms are at Doldrick’s Escape Rooms in Kissimmee, Florida. The only downside with having a big reputation this big of course, is living up to it… So with a generous offer to review their newest room, ‘Red Sled Redemption’, would Doldrick’s continue to wow our Orlando members while making new favourable impressions with our Toronto team members? Let’s quickly dive in and see: ‘’On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen, on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner, on Blitzen!’’
It needs to be said before we begin that Red Sled Redemption is a bit of an oddity within the escape room industry. Originally it was designed to be a pop-up room experience. The amount of items, props and space are indicative of a game that clearly wasn’t meant to be a full escape room. At the same time, the team at Doldrick’s clearly got excited while making this game because it’s no average pop-up experience. People were having a hard time getting through it in 30 minutes, so they made it a 45 minute experience instead (note: our team took about an hour). So as you read through this collection of our thoughts, bear in mind this ‘hybrid experience’ created some division amongst us on our expectations and personal experiences… thankfully that’s what ERA is all about and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
The pre-room experience started off a bit frustrating because we couldn’t find Doldrick’s despite their address being easily found on a map. The strip mall they’re located in is right on one of the two main streets in Kissimmee, but as fate would have it we caught them just as their new sign was delayed in delivery and without it, we must’ve driven right past the entrance a good 4-5 times and didn’t even notice. The best advice we can give is to trust your GPS, park your car in the parking lot, and walk towards the plaza instead. Once you do, you’ll see it much clearer than driving by. Once we did get inside, we were greeted with a friendly ‘hello’, some big smiles, and immediately started scanning the fairly large lobby with lots of eye candy on their walls. Most of the basics were covered. It’s nicely sized to fit two groups of people waiting for their rooms, there’s some seating, a few games (including Jenga), plus some interesting posters and displays to look at while you wait. The addition of snacks, drinks, and perhaps more seating would’ve helped make the space a bit more inviting, but again there wasn’t anything that stood out as unpleasant. Our team agreed the best part of the pre-room was the introductory video. It was cute, fun to watch, and completely designed in-home by the Doldrick’s staff. One piece of advice we need to pass along to you is to ignore what seems like clues that are in the video (bolded words in the closed caption which form a rough sentence if you can memorize them all, in addition to other highlighted features which seem to be more than just random coincidence). If you do try to memorize these things within the video you’ll end up missing the story and dialogue as a couple of our members did.
The room quality was the first of several aspects where our team had some divided experiences. Those who viewed this room more as an elaborate pop-up game, thought the build and design quality was impressive when compared to other pop-up games. Those who perceived this game as a permanent room experience (due to its complexity and time to take solving it), felt the quality seemed unbalanced within the room, when compared to other permanent escape rooms. One thing that tipped the balance of impressions for everyone however was the centre piece of the experience… Santa’s sleigh itself! It was fantastic! This one piece might very well be the most cleverly designed one item we’ve ever seen thanks to the incredible amount of puzzles, technology, and little goodies jam packed into it. The level of craftsmanship that went into the detailed designing was also truly impressive. One person on our team described it in this way: ‘’If the whole room was just the sleigh, it might’ve even been better because the rest felt like lower budget filler compared to how impressive that thing is!’’ When the dust settled from our debate, we all agreed that when it comes to design and build quality, The Red Sled is either an exceptional pop-up room, or it’s an unbalanced regular escape room with one incredible centrepiece feature that none of the other lower budget items in the room can compare to. Either way you look at it, it definitely trended towards the positive.
Our individual immersive experiences seemed to generate the same type of debates. Those on our team who were more focused on the sleigh felt the immersion was good, and they felt connected to the overall theme and story. Those who were working on the puzzles and tasks around the perimeter of the workshop felt a bit more disconnected and didn’t feel there was enough story development to keep them engaged. The team did agree on one immersive aspect of the game however… the number of ideal players. If ever there was an escape room that was perfectly designed for four people, this is it. There’s just enough space, puzzles and tasks to keep four people relatively busy for the whole time. We were close to that number with five, but for us it meant that one or two people were often trying to find ‘the next thing’ to keep themselves engaged. We wouldn’t really recommend a group larger than six because even with five there were times we felt like we were getting in each other’s way a bit. Some groups with lesser experienced players may want to try the game with 5-6, whereas groups of experienced enthusiasts will definitely want to stick with 3-4 players for more engagement. In terms of lighting, sounds, and theme consistency, it was pretty good and gave us the feeling of truly being in a workshop/garage on Christmas Eve. We can’t remember the sound track used, but the room had just the right atmosphere to give that slightly uncomfortable feeling of it being a silent and still Christmas Eve in the middle of nowhere, while we frantically worked at saving Christmas.
Speaking of engagement, let’s talk about the puzzles which were the real Christmas miracles of this game. Regardless of where each of us spent the bulk of our time in the room, everyone LOVED the puzzles! It seemed like there were a never ending supply of cleverly designed, multi-layered puzzles that kept popping up everywhere. Even better was how they systematically unpacked within the room to reveal even more cleverly designed puzzles (which is somewhat rare)! Not a single person on our team wasn’t in awe of how the puzzles worked together in an open, non-linear format, while at the same time being completely contained and dependent on each other in a more traditional 2-to-2 style. This was definitely the one aspect we all agreed Doldrick’s creative team deserves all the praise they receive… and then some! The only thing that we would’ve added to the experience (and this is more preference than anything else), was the amount of team building puzzles. Almost all of the puzzles were inclusive by nature, but there weren’t really any team building puzzles that got us excited about working together. No matter though, because as we said already the puzzles are amazing. If you’re a puzzle person, you’re going to believe it’s the Christmas season.
And finally, did we have fun? Yes… but how much really depends on who you ask. The opinions of how much fun we had seems greatly connected to how engaged each member was with the puzzles, and more specifically how hands on they were with the sleigh. Those who interacted with it more, enjoyed it more, and vice-versa. We all agreed the fun factor of this room really is heightened by the Christmas season, so if you get a chance to play this room in December or early January, we highly recommend it. So there you have it, Red Sled Redemption is an interesting hybrid game with some hybrid reactions veering towards the positive from our group. The room itself is challenging, so again we’d recommend a group size of 5-6 if you’re relatively new to escape rooms, or 3-4 people if you’re a seasoned enthusiast. The room can be enjoyed by anyone of any age, but in comparison with the whole industry, it’s fair to say this one is more for the ‘big kids’ who enjoy creative, multi-layered, and well-crafted puzzles. Merry Christmas everyone, and to all a good night!
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