**Small warning this is a long review**
LockQuest is located in Downtown Toronto, right near Summerhill station sitting above a (possibly-disgruntled) Barber shop. Like most of the downtown adventures they offer the ticketing system where you fill in spots instead of booking an entire room.
We were invited by the owner Ryan to take part in their media preview week.
Right off the bat Ryan introduces himself as a veteran (15-year) video game designer and room escape enthusiast. He first picked up the Room Escape bug in San Francisco and has been in love ever since (second only to his love of writing and of course his wife Cheryl, whom we had the pleasure of meeting). He fully believes that customer services is the most important element of these types of businesses, and “People should show up feeling great, and leave feeling even better.”
To start the entire experience Ryan led us in a small icebreaker to introduce our team (we brought a team of 9 friends) and run through the rules. As he was conducting the session, it was definitely less business-like and more like being invited to a friend’s home for the start of a murder mystery dinner party (led by our kookier-yet-entertaining-hosts).
Reviewed rooms: Escape The Book Club Killer
Creativity and Design (aka its Fancy level): – Was it inventive ? Did it fit the theme?
Score : 5.0 of 5.0
To be fair, LockQuest went for a fairly simple theme, but refines it and owns the theme with the details. The background story for Escape The Book Club Killer is that you are one of two teams, the rescuers or the prisoners. Details like the furniture, the porcelain tea cups and even the telephone all seem to mesh well (although thinking about it only one item did feel out of place).
One thing i’ll probably mention more than once in this review is the ‘hint’ system. So in our previous discussions Ryan described his hint system, which we thought was very neat. In general he would call the telephone in the room to give hints as he saw the progression of the team. For example if the team was missing the fact to check sink for a clue, he might call in character as the plumber to say something was clogging up your sink. This hits two high points, but in terms of the theme aspect it was a fun and a much welcomed addition to the genre (well from what we’ve experienced so far).
Bells and Whistles: Was it just lockboxes throughout the Room?
Score: 5.0 of 5.0
I won’t go into all the details, but somehow gamemaster Ryan manages not to use any obvious lockboxes which is a very nice change from the norm. There were two very interesting components that we haven’t seen used in other rooms (but won’t go into) and again the hint system was a simple yet refreshing fix that most other room escapes seem to miss the mark on (especially when they use walkie talkies and the batteries go dead).
You obviously won’t see green lasers or number pads to open up locks, but Escape The Book Club Killer keeps everything neat, tidy and well themed in this regard.
Intuitive (aka Frustration Level): Was it solvable? or Did you have to be inside the creators mind to solve it?
Score: 3.0 – 5.0 of 5.0
Usually when writing these reviews I know exactly where I stand on intuitiveness. However it’s harder to evaluate for LockQuest.
So i’ll try to explain with this analogy. How i’d compare alot of other escape rooms is like going to a fast food restaurant. You grab your food, and if it sucks, you complain until something is done. With LockQuest its more like sitting down at a nicer restaurant (or as I mentioned to Ryan, going to Mysteriously Yours). You server will come in and check on you, refill your drink and make sure you’re having a good experience. So as you’re playing, they’re monitoring your progress to turn that frustration to ‘funstration’ (Ryan’s word not mine).
All that being said, overall it felt as if we progressed towards the end on our own, and it wasn’t really until after we all sat down and discussed how many hints we received that i wasn’t even sure how much we actually solved.
As a guided experience I would have to say it was definitely funstrating! and would definitely recommend it to anyone even if you are a first timer (which by the way our first timers did enjoy).
Staff Support/Price : Were they friendly? Were they helpful? What was the Damage?
Score: 5.0 of 5.0
I think it goes without saying that we only have high praise for Ryan. He is definitely one of the most enthusiastic owners that we have met (that hasn’t been afraid to get his hands in the mud). When we asked when he was planning on opening new rooms, he said he’ll definitely start planning the next game once the ball is rolling with Escape the Book Club Killer.
Their current price is $28/person which is on the high end of these experiences. Although for downtown this price is pretty average. But comparatively to some of the uptown/midtown experiences we had, $28 is a small price to pay for this gem on Summerhill.
Overall: All we can say is (newcomers or experienced players) you will either have a good time or a GREAT time at LockQuest. (funstration may or may not be included)
For more information check out:
1204a Yonge Street