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Review: Operation Spellbound - Can You Escape, Edinburgh

Room Story - from Can You Escape?

The legendary magicians Morgana and Merlin are frozen in their eternal battle in a cave beneath the Kingdom of Avalon. Every 100 years the stars align, opening a portal to this cave, accessible only by the bravest knights. As the battle wages on, can one side finally triumph? Today is such a day and the hour now approaches!

The powers of Merlin or Morgana are evenly matched and only you can break the tie. Does your team have what it takes to finally bring peace to King Arthur’s land, or will you remain trapped in time for the next century?


Key Stats

Room NameOperation Spellbound
VenueCan You Escape?
LocationEdinburgh, UK
Date28/07/2018
Escape Time52:46
Team Size3
My Recommended Team Size2 - 4

Review

This was the second of our two games at Can You Escape. After completing Operation Odyssey, we had a short wait whilst they reset the room before heading downstairs to take on Operation Spellbound. This was a fairly new room and at the time we played, it had only been open for approx. 4 weeks.

I’m going to caveat this review before I start that there were a couple of technical issues on the night and that there are a few improvements they are planning to make to the room to improve the flow of puzzles and remove ambiguity. However, I’m basing my review on what we played rather than what the room has the potential to be.

Operation Spellbound consists of two identical rooms that allows large groups to compete against one another. As a team of three, we took on the Morgana room. The object of the game is to locate a number of runes and place them at the base of an ancient tree in order to win in a long running magical battle between Merlin and Morgana.

Like Operation Odyssey, there was a great and theatrical introduction to the room from the host. After the introduction, you wait by the rooms door for the green light before entering to take on the room. It makes you feel surprisingly tense stood there waiting to go in.

When we entered, an introduction from Morgana was played in the room, but unfortunately the sound cut out due to an issue with the speaker system and the host told us to instead read the message in an old looking leather bound book. It was a real shame that the speaker system stopped working as I imagine there would have been background music, etc. to make the room feel more immersive. As a result, it was a really quiet game.

The room is a fairly large space with lots of puzzles dotted around the edge of the room and some paintings on the wall in fitting with the theme (and sometimes part of the puzzles!). It’s not an elaborately themed room, but everything in there is in keeping with the story and theme.

This is one of the few games we’ve played where there isn’t really any searching for physical objects in the room. Although there are lots of puzzles visible around the room, all of the puzzles are driven from spells, stories and various information in the old leather bound book. It’s a nice idea and fits well with the story, but it caused us to spend large portions of the game huddled around the book and hampered our progress as we could only really work on one thing at once. This is one of the areas the host suggested they are planning on improving.

There were a few puzzles in the room that were quite clever and we really enjoyed completing, but we found there were quite a few puzzles that didn’t flow as well as they should do. In contrast to Operation Odyssey where there’s lots of clear signposting and great flow between the puzzles, there are some puzzles in this room that we thought required leaps of logic and left you needing further information to complete a puzzle (but without knowing you needed further information!). Again, when we fed this back at the end, the host said this is something they were looking to improve.

Despite what I’ve said above, we did have fun in this room and we thought there were some good moments in the game and some good puzzles to solve. It has the potential to be a good game if they deliver the improvements the host discussed, particularly if you bring along a couple of teams to compete against each other and have the added dimension of competition thrown into the mix. However, compared to the excellent experience we had in Operation Odyssey, it was a little bit of a disappointing game.

The team were Beth, Daniel and Becky.

Ratings

Overall There are some nice ideas in this room and it has the potential to be a good room, however, there were a few too many teething issues.
Difficulty It’s not an easy game, but I think when some of the teething issues are resolved it will become easier.
Fun There’s some great theatre from the host before the game and some nice ideas in the room. It would be really fun to compete against another team in the identical room next door.
Puzzles There were a few nice puzzles in the room, but everything was too tied to a book of clues so there wasn’t a great sense of exploration to solve the puzzles.
Immersion There’s some theming in the room that works well, but it’s not a room that’s intensely themed. When we visited, there was an issue with the sound system so this spoilt some of the immersion.
Surprises There aren’t really any major surprises in the room, everything you have to solve is visible to you when you enter the room.

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