- Played December 2019
- Toronto, ON
- 60 minutes
- 3-7 players
- What People Say
After several out of town trips, our Toronto ERA team finally returned home to check out Toronto’s newest escape room company… Daydream Adventures! And we’re happy we did, as they made a lot of strong first impressions with us. Their website was great, their company was centrally located along the Danforth, it was easy to find, and to top it off they had some great scenic features when entering the building. At the same time, there were a few things that might work against them in regards to first impressions for some people: parking was limited to the main and side streets which can be frustrating depending on the time of day, the retail unit they had was fairly small, and sadly their company was located down a tall, narrow, flight of stairs without accessibility for those with mobility issues. Ok, so maybe exterior first impressions did leave us a bit mixed, but what about inside the building? As you walk down the stairs you’ll notice the lighting and design work changes to become more mystical and surreal. By the time you enter the small lobby you’ll feel as if you’ve entered a private little club for you and your team (which we liked). Black lights, fluorescent colouring, and just the right amount of design work kept our eyes and minds busy as we looked around. Although the lobby was quite small, and no refreshments were available, there was storage area for personal belongings and seating provided for a group of 5-6 people. That’s when we noticed the two best features of their pre-room experience… the bathrooms and Daydream’s hallway. Lol… yup you read that correctly. Their two bathrooms were stylishly decorated in dreamscape themes and we couldn’t help but walk into both of them just to look around and be impressed. But the coolest pre-room feature of all had to be the LED wave lights lining the hallway ceiling all the way towards the escape rooms. It definitely set the mood for our adventure into Daydream’s first room… Dream Portal. Overall it was a solid start despite a few initial mixed impressions.
The room itself was a bit small but well designed with a fairytale forest setting. In our debrief after playing the room we could see a divide between our experiences and what we each observed. For some of us, our attention was drawn towards the high production values, quality set pieces and good use of space available. At the same time, some of us took notice of the two tech glitches we encountered (connectors and contacts), the low sound quality, and some mechanical issues with one of the puzzles. Having said that, we all agreed the quality of materials used within the room (solid wood, metal, and soundproofing) were top notch. In the end it was another mixed bag of impressions, but veering on the positive side overall.
Whereas room quality issues left divided impressions amongst our group, we were completely unified in regards to Dream Portal’s immersive experience. Had it not been for the glitches and sound issues we encountered within Dream Portal, this room would’ve easily been one of Toronto’s best immersive experiences in our opinion. That is to say it has the potential to be. Although the story was a bit on the simple, straight-forward side, there’s some development throughout the game which was nice to see. This was supported by some impressive lighting and sound effects, amidst the already impressive backdrop of their set design. We’re not quite sure how they did it (or how they’ll maintain it), but even the atmospheric smells were perfectly suited for the room’s theme. The only main drawback for our immersive experience was the need to keep calling our game-master for help with technical and sound issues. The story could’ve used a bit more development within the room, but this is commonplace for the whole escape room industry. Overall we could tell the Daydream Adventures team focused on making Dream Portal a really good immersive experience, and then built the rest of the game around it. Immersion junkies will enjoy this room, but we’d suggest calling ahead just to double check all the little things are working so you can experience this room in peak condition. We suspect that given the great visuals within the bathrooms, the lobby, and Dream Portal Daydream Adventures may soon be dubbed the kings and queens of immersion within Toronto if they keep designing their building and rooms like they have so far.
We felt the puzzles were somewhat like the room quality for the most part… a bit of good and rough mixed together. Depending on which puzzles each of us interacted with, our impressions varied. Some of us really enjoyed the amount, the variety and the creativity of the puzzles, whereas others felt the mechanical and tech integration issues casted a shadow over what were good puzzles for the most part. There was one particular puzzle which allowed for multiple correlations (each out-putting a different answer), but players are required to keep trying until they get the right one. This may create some frustration for those who aren’t familiar with puzzle design, or those who quickly get impatient in an escape room. Aside from that one puzzle however, we enjoyed the puzzles for the most part. It’s not easy designing an escape room, and all too often people forget escape rooms can present different experiences to different groups depending on how smoothly things go on that particular day. In our case, a few tech and sound issues kept us from experiencing the best of the puzzles, but it’s important to understand this is DIFFERENT from saying the puzzles were bad. They weren’t… in fact we enjoyed them quite a bit! Yes we experienced some first time designer mistakes, and yes we would’ve liked to have seen some more team building puzzles included, but this isn’t a new phenomenon in the escape room industry… it’s a normal (dare we say healthy?) part of a company’s growth. What matters to us most is how much a group can enjoy their experience when they play the game. That’s more of a ‘fun issue’ we know, but there are times we need to remind ourselves (and our audience) ERA comes from the philosophy that EVERY escape room has its pros and cons. It’s a truth within the industry that applies to companies with million dollar budgets and tons of experience, to new local companies just learning the ropes. The tech and sound issues in Daydream Portal were minor (and we have good reason to believe probably fixed by now), but we have no doubt the creativity, the thematic consistency, and the ability to create immersive puzzles that tell a story will win a lot of people over.
So did we enjoy this room? Yes we did. Will it win a best room award? Probably not… but that’s ok. It’s Daydream Adventure’s first room, and in our opinion a very good start. They obviously have natural talents when it comes to designing something visually immersive, and moving forward they’ll no doubt continue to build off that talent. This room is probably best suited for those who want to be swept into a fantasy land where their analytical brains won’t be on the constant lookout for design issues. The staircase, lobby, and room are each fairly small so we’d suggest a group size of 3-5 people depending on the level of engagement you want, and the amount of experience your team has. We’re excited to have met the Daydream Adventures team and we’re even more excited to see what comes next from their creative minds.
We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!