November 2, 2018- I get asked a lot what escape rooms I’ve done have been my best or my favorite, and I’ve always deflected those questions. One of the reasons I can still enjoy escape rooms after solving 300+ is that each room is so different, and most aren’t even trying to do the same thing. Sometimes it’s a cinematic experience meant for a small group. Sometimes it’s a communications exercise for a large group. It can be a linear brainteaser or a tangle of parallel tracks. Different people will like different styles of rooms more than others, and unless I know someone very well, I’ll have a hard time making a great recommendation for them. Consequently, I really don’t like calling out any individual room above the others I’ve done. But Rabbit Hole Recreation Services is seriously making me consider breaking my own rule.
Christina and I arrived in Denver without a plan for our stop in Colorado. We appreciated that Rabbit Hole Recreation Services had an early-ish slot for the Mystic Temple, since it would make planning the rest of our afternoon easier (we needed to get to Laramie, WY by 6PM for our next adventure). After a quick detour to grab some coffee, we were greeted warmly at Rabbit Hole Recreation Services by one of the owners. While we were waiting for our room, we also had a fun time inspecting each of the strange photos on the wall of the lobby.
From the moment we set foot in the Mystic Temple, we were thrilled by the level of detail in the environment.
Very few times have I seen this level of detail in an escape room. The sets are completely immersive with a total lack of seams. Mystic Temple nails the look, feel, and sound of what exploring an ancient temple should look like (but without the copious amounts of spiders, snakes, and dust). Those photos above speak for themselves about the set design, but I also want to give a special callout to the sound design at Rabbit Hole Recreation Services- when something big happens, it’s enthralling.
The story in the room works quite well. There’s even an explanation for why things are where they are and why certain objects may be concealed or vague. Typically the story doesn’t impact my enjoyment of an escape room significantly, except in those rare cases where I need to make story-based decisions, but in this case it was done so well that I have to describe it. The premise is that your team is following another adventurer who went on ahead of the group to try to collect the temple’s treasure. It sounds simple enough but the execution is well-done and the tracks left by the previous explorer weave into some of the puzzles nicely.
Now for the important part- the puzzles! Themes and set design make for a fun experience, but the puzzles are really the meat behind any escape room, and I personally would prefer a basic room with great puzzle design over a great movie set with weak puzzles. With as much as I’ve been raving about the detail paid to the set design, I need to give equal credit to the puzzle design. The Mystic Temple had some of the most ambitious puzzle designs I’ve seen, with a vast variety of custom artifacts to interact with, and everything worked flawlessly. I have to mention that because quite often I’ve seen ambitious puzzles fall flat because something doesn’t work quite right, but in this room, everything ran like a well-oiled engine.
There were plenty of different challenges to engage different ways of thinking. For a room with a lot of technology built into it, Ruins of the Mystic Temple still allows players to engage the environment freely and rewards players for searching high and low for details and items.
After I finished the room, I talked to the room’s designer, and he confirmed that all these details we noticed and appreciated were not by accident. He even gave serious thought to the flow of foot traffic at different points in the experience and how to set the room slightly differently for different group sizes to make sure all players have plenty to stay engaged on. The craftsmanship involved in all elements of the experience is completely fascinating.
One last note about the details of the Mystic Temple- as mentioned before, I refrain from speaking in terms of best or favorite when describing escape rooms, but I can confidently say that Mystic Temple had hands down the best conclusion to any escape room I’ve ever done. I’ve had some good and clever conclusions before, places that do more than “door opens” or “clock stops and lights come on,” and I could probably put together a really solid top ten list, but this is one area where Rabbit Hole Recreation Services is far enough ahead of anything else I’ve done that I can make an absolute statement.
So in summary, Rabbit Hole Recreation Services wowed Christina and me with every detail of the experience. I can’t think of a single part of the experience that wasn’t exceptional. We visited just a few weeks too early to tackle Rabbit Hole Recreation Service’s second room, so we’re already eagerly looking at when we can make a return trip to Denver to check it out.
We’re so glad to have visited Rabbit Hole Recreation Services and can’t wait to experience the next room, Paradox: The Incredible Time Machine.