An escape room so good, we had to play twice.
About Find & Seek Entertainment
Location: Gastown neighborhood in downtown Vancouver B.C., International Mall
Themes: 1, as of this writing they were in progress for 2
Players: 2+, 4 is optimal
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: $26 CAD ($19.50 US) per person through online or phone bookings with a required deposit. All bookings are presumed public unless you opt for a private booking (which might be around $35 CAD).
Mystery at the Majestic Theater
A once charming Victorian stage attracting a revolving door of failing magicians, suddenly revived by a mysterious figured named the Professor. His feats defied reality, bewitching objects with the mere wave of his hand. As his popularity grew, so did his power…which brings us to the present day.
We were time travelers, desperately seeking to right the wrongs of today. The Professor was close, his source of power hidden somewhere in the past…As the door clicked behind us, the lights flickered and the sound of our time machine traveling back decades. The television on the wall sputtered, and the face of comrade (now in the future) lit up across the screen.
“Follow the clues to his relic, that’s the source of his power!” he yelled, the signal sputtering, “We can only keep you there for 45 minutes. Find the relic, defeat the Professor, or you’ll be trapped!”
This was our introduction to Mystery at the Majestic Theater, presented by Find & Seek Entertainment. After playing not one, but two games of the same escape room, I can definitely say it’s a must-see in a saturated escape game market in Vancouver B.C. It’s evident in the first minute of play that the designers live up to their passion, paying attention to every detail of the room and the player experience.
They’ve done an amazing job tailoring the room to the story of a time-traveling evil magician. Every prop – from the wooden theater chairs to the tower of swords – appeared custom-made and well-cared for. It truly felt like we had stepped into another place, far away from coffee shops and mall stores. This was something out of a movie, and it begged exploration.
The progression of the room is fairly linear – search the room, find a clue(s), and try to “match” the clue to a puzzle or object. We particularly enjoyed the variety of puzzles, including (but not limited to) decoding ciphers, finding patterns, and using story-based logic. Several puzzles re-used old clues, which fit the time-traveling theme very well.
Where other escape rooms have failed, Majestic Theater truly shines in the technical performance of its props and set pieces, as well as the addition of a soundtrack.
The passage of time was marked by this soundtrack, a high-pitched mystical melody with occasional thunderclaps. As the deadline drew near, we would hear the Professor – who was perhaps watching us the entire time – mock us for our futility with a villainous laugh. The music and sound has a very gripping, atmospheric effect that builds up to the suspense but doesn’t distract players from the task at hand.
Additionally, there are many digital sensors that are closely moderated by the game host. They are usually activated by solving puzzles or taking certain actions. I specifically enjoyed the secret compartments and magical items popping from out of nowhere – it made me feel like I had just performed a magic trick!
There are still a few non-digital locks and puzzles in the room, but you would know immediately if it was solved correctly because of a magical sound effect that would signal everyone in the room. It was a simple, brilliant method of letting everyone know at the same time that a puzzle had been solved and that you should move on to the next step.
There is also a second sound effect for hints. Find & Seek has one of the best hint systems I’ve experienced so far in playing escape rooms. It is a text-based system that displays on the television screen in the room. Even when we didn’t ask for them, the game host would still signal us with little pieces of advice to prevent us from wasting too much time on a task. I got the sense that the hosts and designers really cared about our experience and were rooting for us to finish the room despite its puzzle difficulty.
The soundtrack, sound effects, and flawless technical performance of the set kept us absorbed in the puzzle-solving experience. In both of our games, there was not one player left standing around or wasting time on a puzzle that had already been solved. We were engaged for every minute of the game, even as it got down the wire and were struggling to solve puzzles quickly.
This brings me back to an earlier point I had made about technical performance in escape rooms. It’s something I highly stress when playing escape rooms, because it’s something that shouldn’t be noticeable as you are playing. Any kind of malfunction interrupts the flow of the game and the experience.
Some of you may be thinking that it’s impossible to keep a room functioning at 100% all the time. However, a room like Majestic Theater shows that it is possible and how much of a difference a good technical performance makes. It’s more than just making sure things are working mechanically – it’s about creating a sense of urgency, supporting the story immersion, and keeping up with the players’ momentum in the game.
After all, the bottom line to surviving in the escape room business is to encourage players to have a good experience, referring their friends or returning to play other rooms. Or, in our case, Ben and I returned to play the same room just for the honor of completing it.
I’d like to share the fact that it wasn’t any easier playing Majestic Theater for the second time. With only the two of us, we were put into an interesting situation. We tried to remember how certain puzzles worked, only to be forced into re-learning their logic and disputing the solutions.
As I mentioned earlier, the digital triggers in this room are very sensitive to players’ actions. Ben and I have speculated that some of these triggers must be controlled directly by the game host.
There was a specific door we had expected to open – but were suddenly locked out of it! Barred from solving whatever was behind that door, we directed our efforts to solving another puzzle. The ability to control the puzzle track blew our minds!
Not every escape room can boast such flexibility or creativity in their room, which is just another reason I would highly recommend a visit to Find & Seek Entertainment while this room is still around. I really look forward to seeing what they cook up for Room #2 in the future…
Find & Seek Entertainment is situated in a hidden corner of the International Mall in the Gas Town neighborhood. On your way there, you might be distracted by the other cool nerdy things inside the mall, like the board game shop, game arcade, or the adorable Catfe (a coffee shop with cats!).
Find & Seek’s premiere room Mystery at the Majestic Theater is an escape experience not to be missed if you are traveling to downtown Vancouver, B.C. From the minute you walk into Majestic Theater, you can expect a top-of-the-line, immersive gaming experience – clearly the work of passionate, dedicated game designers.
The theme is mildly scary, but plays up the intensity with its short 45-minute play time and theatrical effects. The puzzles are challenging, but not impossible. They seem to tease right at the border between intermediate and advanced difficulty.
If there are any downsides, the game host’s story brief at the beginning felt a little lean (especially if you are comparing it to a story-driven, character host-led escape room company like Smartypantz), but that’s splitting hairs.
I would highly recommend this room to players who are considering a serious puzzle room experience and want to experience everything the genre has to offer.
Story Immersion: 5/5
- The room tells the story, rather than the game host
- Looks like a movie set – beautifully made props and set pieces that supported the story
- Gripping, mystical soundtrack and voiceovers that supported the story, built suspense, and helped the story progress
- Thoughtful puzzles that fit the theme
- New clue reveals that fit the theme
Player Experience: 5/5
- Variety of puzzle types
- Theatrical reveals that were fun and surprising
- Simple, efficient hint system that keeps the game going without delay
- The game host wants you to succeed – gives unlimited hints and keeps the momentum going
Technical Performance of Props/Sets: 5/5
- Digital triggers reacted appropriately to the players’ actions
- Nothing stalled or got stuck in place
- Best hint system
- Most of the room is wheelchair accessible