Outside the room
Having just played Break Escape‘s scary room, Nerve Klinik, it was time to recover with a trip to the Enchanted Forest, a game set in a magical land. At first glance, I’d assumed it was aimed at children but, looking at the website, it became clear that, while this might be a fantasy world and certainly more suitable for younger players than some of their other games, it’s definitely not a children’s game (and playing it confirmed that).
A portal has been discovered that leads through to another world. The realm is under the control of a dark enchantress, and the forest sleeps. Can you wake it, and find a rare blue gem before the enchantress and make your escape?!
Inside the room
Transitioning from the real world into an escape room is always a tough moment. Usually you have to suspend disbelief for the brief moment when you leave behind the venue and take your first step inside the room. Few games have solved that issue as well, and yet as simply, as The Enchanted Forest: by splitting your transition from the real world to the parallel world into two distinct phases, they avoid that immersion-breaking moment as well as creating an iconic start to the experience.
I wouldn’t call it a beautiful start, and I wasn’t a big fan of the opening puzzles, but the feeling it gave set us up perfectly for the game ahead. Add in a whimsical step before you arrive in the winter wonderland of the experience proper and this game gets off to a flying start. As we continued, it became clear that any lack of beauty in that opening was deliberate, because they really do transport you visually to a parallel world, and I was impressed by the way they’d recreated something almost Narnia-like in appearance.
The puzzle structure is one of the more interesting you’re likely to come across. First off, before you enter the room you’re told that there are bonus puzzles on offer that, while not affecting you in the room itself (except for using up your time!), result in a deduction from your official time at the end. It became clear almost immediately that these were likely to be a timesink for all but the most skillful players or large teams. Of course, that was very much the point – these were optional puzzles to help deliver value for money for those teams that might otherwise race through the game. That’s fine, but such was the difficulty that I think there’s a significant risk that individual players will get frustrated and/or miss out on much of the game. Your mileage may vary!
The other thing that’s interesting about the structure is just how available the puzzles are early on in the experience. From an almost linear start, you quickly move to a game where there are significantly more possible puzzles to investigate than there are players in the team. That can be confusing, and I certainly found myself more than a little overwhelmed to begin with. Things get easier as you start solving puzzles and cutting down the possible clues and puzzles, but be prepared to wander around a little aimlessly and potentially gravitate towards the tough but understandable skill challenges if you’re not focused!
Structure is interesting, but content is far more important. There’s a decent variety of challenges in the game. I think most players will find puzzles that suit their taste, although there’s a slight emphasis on skill games because of the bonuses. The puzzles are logical, although a couple of times we hit what felt like ambiguous answers where what looked like a viable solution turned out to be wrong. The weakest part for me, though, was what amounted to a counting puzzle that (for us) bordered on impossible. We knew what we had to do, we tried for ten minutes and then we just gave up and brute-forced a solution. It was nice implementation, and I think beginners will enjoy it, but I suspect most experienced teams will see it as tedious rather than fun.
There’s a clear measure of progress throughout the puzzle-solving that takes you towards the finale and builds a sense of anticipation. The game ends tidily with a pleasing reveal that enables you to retrieve the blue gem of your quest.
We escaped with a few minutes remaining having had probably three clues. I won’t spoil the clue delivery system other than to say they’ve done a great job of fitting it to the world.
The Enchanted Forest is an enchanting game. A memorable start throws you right into the heart of a beautiful fantasy world. With it, there are plenty of logical puzzles and, while the quality of those vary, overall we suffered no significant frustrations.
Tough but optional skill challenges mean that larger teams can keep themselves busy throughout the game so, while we played as a pair and enjoyed that experience, I’d happily recommend it to a team of four enthusiasts.
Full disclosure: We weren’t charged for these tickets. That doesn’t influence the review – you can read more on the About page.