Room Name: Call of the Ancient
Business: Escape Hour Austin
Date of Visit: July 21, 2019
Number of Players: 3-6
Our Group Size: 6
Official Description: Welcome to a twisted corner of the 1930s. A group of Freemasons in Innsmouth, Massachusetts have recently roused an ancient, evil being beyond all mortal control. The brothers thought they could control it and harness its immense power in order to rule over humanity. But they were very, very wrong. Terrifying nightmares and portents have lead you and several others to the front steps of their cursed Masonic Hall. You don’t know exactly what happened inside this building, but you do know that your dreams have called you to this place for a reason. You must lock away the evil within before madness consumes both your group and the rest of the human race.
Difficulty (official): This is rated as their hardest room by escape rate.
Difficulty (experience): Challenging. We used all of our time, and then some.
Time to Escape: Not entirely sure (see review).
Review: It’s no secret that we adore the Lovecraft mythos, and when we found out there was an Elder Gods-themed escape in Austin, I just had to go for my birthday. We had heard good things about Escape Hour and were looking forward to having a great time.
Finding Escape Hour was a little difficult as it’s tucked in an industrial park and wasn’t very well-marked. Once we found their unit we were quickly escorted into a large lobby (filled with plenty of puzzles to pass the time) and greeted by our GM, who was genuinely excited to be running the room for us. Her enthusiasm made us look forward to the experience even more. Previous reviews of the game mentioned that the experience included a sanity mechanic which allowed for some roleplaying and added another layer of difficulty to the game, but our game master informed us that this was no longer part of the experience. Nevertheless we were ready to see what the room had to offer us.
Our group gasped as soon as we walked in. The room was intricately decorated and brought us back to the 1930s. All wiring was hidden and we appreciated how even the electronics adhered to the time period (having an analog clock instead of digital for the room timer, for instance). We didn’t have to stretch our imaginations to believe that we were in an old Freemason Lodge for a second. They even included a creative, interactive way of clue delivery that kept us laughing and having a great time throughout the experience.
The puzzles were well-integrated into the game and provided a great challenge. Escape Hour put a lot of thought and creativity when it came to designing the room and tried to stay away from just lock and key puzzles. We were very impressed with the variety of puzzles provided in the room and how well thought out each element was. And even when we understood how certain mechanisms worked, the room and puzzle elements were so well-designed that they maintained the mystical qualities of the theme of the room. Even a year later we still love talking about them (and how we can’t wait to go back once it’s safe)!
We did run into one snag. We fiddled with one lock for at least ten minutes before our GM realized that a clue hadn’t been reset properly, making the puzzle impossible to solve. She ran in and handed us the clue immediately, and also added roughly ten minutes onto the clock (Thank you!). We loved the level of service that we received here, and we’re grateful that we had that extra time, as we still had plenty of room to explore!
If you’re in the Austin area, Call of the Ancient is not a room to miss.
Hints Used: We used a few and its worth it just for their clue delivery system. It is very thematic and well-integrated into the game’s story.
Clue Quality: Very high. No clues were too vague and none were frustratingly difficult (once we had all of the required pieces).
Puzzle Creativity: Extremely high. Each section of the experience was well-thought out and required interesting puzzles to complete them. We saw entertaining usage of familiar mechs, clever design for cooperative solving, and a challenging logic puzzle that remained thematic and was satisfying to solve.
Rating: 5.5 / 5. This room exceeded our expectations.
Fear Factor: Some spooky themes and a couple of periods of darkness, but no major jump scares or gore.
Things to note: The room requires at least two people to be able to crawl.