Dream Portal

6.3 Overall
Pre-Room
Room Quality
Immersion
Puzzle Design
Fun Factor
Users (0 votes) 0

Dream Portal

  • Played December 2019
  • Toronto, ON

  • 60 minutes
  • 3-7 players
  • $30/person

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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!

Final Verdict:

6.3/10

19 responses

  1. Manda says:

    Just a note, your review scores really do not tend to match with the actual text in your reviews. I’ve mentioned this before. While the text of your review is mostly positive, you stuck a big “MEH” score on there. A six to me would be a fairly almost terrible time, but from what I can see you only had a couple of tech issues and you complained about the parking in Toronto which is not really the escape’s fault (the issues on mobility is understandable). More consistency from these reviews would be nice.

    • Esc Room Addict says:

      Hi Amanda, thank you for your response! It sounds like you may be unfamiliar with our scoring system http://escroomaddict.com/our-scoring-system/ As you can imagine, one of the struggles we often face is the variety of opinions people have on the ‘value’ of a numeric score out of 10. For some, a ‘6’ is good, for others it’s bad… Our Toronto Team seems to have a lot of positives to say about Daydream Adventure’s which may or may not match the opinions of what people feel is consistent with their own personal opinions. It happens.

      • Mike says:

        I do agree that the review doesn’t reflect the review. I would suggest reviewing/overhauling your scoring system to reflect the game. Commenting on things like accessibility are nice, but i don’t think they should be scored (no matter how nice a bathroom might be).

        • Esc Room Addict says:

          Hi Mike, thank you for your comments. We definitely appreciate the variety of opinions and experiences each team has, even when it comes from fellow reviewers like yourself and Manda. Wishing you guys the very best for 2020 – it’s going to be a great year for the industry!

      • Margaux says:

        “Our Toronto Team seems to have a lot of positives to say about Daydream Adventure’s which may or may not match the opinions of what people feel is consistent with their own personal opinions. It happens.”

        According to your scoring system, a 6 is Average; just meets the marketplace standard.

        I think that equals what Manda referred to as MEH on anyone’s scale. MEH = Average.

        However, the tone of the positives seemed to overshadow the downsides, but perhaps you were simply being kind? You seemed to go out of your way to downplay the negative points. And yet…and yet, a 6.3?

        “The tech and sound issues in Daydream Portal were minor” seemed to bring down the fun level quite a bit for you all it seems, despite your assurances that no room is perfect.

        Scoring consistency is indeed hard, especially when the more rooms you do, the tougher you may be as a scorer. For example, I noticed another game with serious in-room accessibility issues that you scored 8+ a while back, so perhaps this has become more of an issue that you want to highlight currently than it was in the past.

        Not for nothing, I’ve played this room, too, and I don’t think it’s an “Average; just meets the marketplace standard” level you’ve stamped on it. There are far more positives, despite — as you repeatedly take pains to include — the minor glitches. The experience of the room is definitely better than my average — and I’ve mostly only played the better rooms in any area I visit.

        Based on your own scoring system, I would rate this game an 8. It’s fun, it’s immersive, the puzzles were thematic, interesting, and solvable, neither too easy nor too difficult, with at least one very different type of puzzle I’ve not seen. A lot of care and attention to detail went into the room design as well as the “front stage” experience from the front stairway down. The owners and team were friendly and professional.

        We can’t all agree on ratings, that’s true. But based on your own criteria, I don’t feel you’ve made the case for 6.3 being what your group experienced. I’m hoping people who read your review will also read this comment for agreeing with the text of your review, but really disagreeing with you on the score.

        • Esc Room Addict says:

          Hi Margaux, thank you for your comment. As you can see from our comment section, this room has generated a broad range of opinions which is great for us to see. We’re sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the review, but we completely understand when a group of outspoken fellow enthusiasts and/or reviewers disagree. It happens, but it’s definitely a great discussion generator. We wish you the very best in 2020, and here’s hoping your days are escape filled!

  2. J.Liu says:

    I’ve recently been to Daydream Adventures and it is easily one of the best in the GTA. I don’t think a 6.3 out of 10 reflects the effort put into this room.

  3. GER says:

    I agree with the other commenters here. Based on your published scoring system and reviews of other rooms (that I check frequently) I’m SHOCKED at the score here.

    It seems like you played early on, so maybe things have changed. We played January 1.

    I do give leniency for first rooms. But even without this leniency, the room ranks fairly high in my experience of the Toronto market. As you’ve noted, it’s set is phenomenal. The puzzles are varied and logical. Nothing seemed out of place. I would agree that there was something intangible missing from the puzzles…we maybe felt less excited than we have before when we solved them? But I can’t pinpoint what was missing, so it could have been just our New Years Day fatigue.

    I’ve already recommended the room to others, and I’m excited about what they will offer next.

    • Esc Room Addict says:

      Hi Ger, thank you for your comment. As you can see from our comment section, this room has generated a broad range of opinions which is always exciting for us to see. We appreciate the different experiences and passions each person has coming into, and out of, an escape room experience. It only makes sense a segment of people will be convinced their experience is the only experience that matters… for our Toronto ERA team, the scores and review reflected what they experienced during their visit, which will no doubt slightly differ from others. We’ve also referred 2 groups of enthusiasts to Daydream Adventures when asked about them, so we’re happy to hear they’re getting some love from Toronto area supporters.

  4. Tim says:

    Though I did enjoy my time playing this game, the production value was very amateur. Giving this room anything higher than a 6 undervalues many of the better establishments that put a lot more time and money into their productions.

    • Esc Room Addict says:

      Hi Tim, thank you for your comment. As you can see from our comment section, this room has generated a broad range of opinions. Some feel the room deserves a higher rating, and others like yourself have told us it deserves a lower rating… We respect each group has it’s own experiences within an escape room, and we’re sorry to hear yours wasn’t as positive an impression as ours.

  5. Roger says:

    I’m wondering if ERA would benefit from hearing feedback. If there is a discrepancy between the review and the scoring, I wonder if it’s important to hear and try to improve? It would say a lot about your site if you were always trying to improve.

  6. Andrew says:

    I enjoyed this game. Can you give a further breakdown how you arrived to your score?

  7. Kelvin says:

    I did enjoy my time playing this game, the production value was great. There are better rooms out there, but giving this room a 6 undervalues the work from establishments that have mediocre games that put a lot less time and money into their productions. How do you give a 6.5 to a room that you describe as “Basic room design, but friendly staff and a great starting point for new players” ?

  8. Jeremie says:

    Hey folks, this might be a good time to point out that you can leave your own review if you like. Up at the top of the page, just below the summary information, click on the bar labelled ‘What people say’ and you can leave a rating and your own mini-review. Did ERA get it right, or were we a little off-base with this one? Let us know!

  9. Danielle Height says:

    It seems that people sometimes forget this is a REVIEW GROUP… as in, opinions. There’s a score AND a written review for a reason. Not everyone on the ERA team will have the same views (ie which averages out the score). Calm down people, write your own review like Jer said or go yourself to have your own opinion, like I’m going to for this room

    • Esc Room Addict says:

      Hi Danielle! Thank you for the encouraging words of support, and yes, you’re absolutely correct! Those who believe escape room reviews should reflect a singular, dominant, opinion may struggle with ERA’s reviews & philosophy. As you mentioned, our reviewers will sometimes have different experiences within an escape room causing the scores to be averaged out, and seemingly out of alignment with the written portion of the review depending on the range of disparity within the group. It’s our philosophy that dominant opinions should never be the only ones that matter regarding an escape room, nor should anyone feel they’re personal perspective isn’t valued.

      And yes, if the Toronto ERA team’s review of this room has made you curious, you SHOULD go check it out and let us know what you think! 🙂

  10. Sean says:

    I find it odd that people are saying that the score doesn’t match the review. I mean, the review says that some aspects of it generated mixed feelings among the various reviewers on the team.. and a 6.3 (which is still a good score) reflects that.

    And please keep mentioning accessibility related features of rooms in your reviews. It is important to know if a place has stairs, or if there are non-wheelchair accessible mandatory obstacles.

    • Esc Room Addict says:

      Hi Sean, thank you for the comment and the encouraging words. At the end of the day it’s hard to get everyone to agree on personal interpretation of words or a number. We definitely appreciate how for some people a 6 is a ‘meh’ and for others it’s a decent score. ERA’s philosophy is everyone has an equal voice and has something to contribute, which is why we love what we do. It’s rare when all ERA members will agree on all scores, in all categories, and we definitely wouldn’t have it any other way. Reviews, blogs, and social media forums are already abundant for those who want a dominant opinion by an individual (or small group of people). ERA’s focus will always remain on those looking for a broader, collective, perspective.

      And don’t worry, we’ll definitely continue to talk about issues of accessibility, safety, bathrooms, lockers and any other issue that remains a priority for our followers and members. (Fun Fact: Rumour has it that our Toronto ERA team members have fun nicknames and inside jokes with how each other focuses on a specific aspect of an escape room when doing a review)! 😉

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