Signature Color: Yellow
“AH, the arson-worthy Great Escape Room: Orlando. I admire the spiteful little imps who run the place. I don’t mean the humans, no… no, no. They’re being controlled by something… else. Nothing as grand or meaningful as a demon, of course. No, it’s probably just little shit-gnomes, who have been whispering and poking them, invisibly, until the venue became… what it is. You’ll see what I mean if you go there for some reason. You’ll want to leave right away. The place looks fine, it’s clean and all, but as soon as someone talks to you, you’ll realize how much they hate it when customers show up. But they hate it even more when customers get away! I know, because the first time I went there, I had the most wretched conversation with a staff member at the desk who just said a lot of mean (and several nonsensical) things to me, so I left and vowed to forget I’d ever been there. As I was driving away, shuddering, their district manager called me twice to apologize for how irritating the experience was. I hadn’t played the game or paid them, so no harm done, I smiled and said “okay” a lot until I could hang up. I was polite. And I thought I was done with them.
But no. Paul decided he would strike a bargain with these filthy little wizards, without telling me. He only told me we were going to a venue we hadn’t played before, knowing full well I would have sooner slammed my tongue into a drawer than ever talk to any of their staff again [Editor: the staff at Partly Wicked has played nearly every escape room in the Orlando area so few options remain for staying local]. I should have known that’s where we were going when others in our party began to experience pointless nuisances prepared by the venue from their evil little cook book of bad service. The staff surrounds everything they do with an air of childish regulation as if they’re imitating the rule-addled fussiness they think grown-ups inflict on them for fun; they seem to say ‘Well, today it’s our turn, so mmmmmeeeuunnnnhhhh!!’
Oh, but I do loathe the Great Escape: Orlando. I was going to call it God-forsaken, but if God had just forsaken it, it wouldn’t be that bad. Their mediocrity is something special, something downright weird. I’ve realized that God didn’t forsake them, he was using them to punish me. See, I knew after my first experience with them how miserable this place could make its customers, and yet, I said nothing. My duty was to warn people. I repent. Deplorable customer service aside, here follows my review of Professor Moriarty’s Gameroom specifically:
They merged our group of six with another one of four, maxing us out at the room’s limit of ten. Normally that’s fine, but this room is small, and it’s only got one stage. It really should be capped at eight if they’re going to merge groups (which, they don’t really have to do, they just want to make sure you know they couldn’t care less about your experience.)
In the introduction, we were told that Professor Moriarty, ingenious mastermind from the world of Sherlock Holmes, has invented a poison and has already used it. The antidote is in this laboratory, and all we have to do is crack his security system to find the antidote and save the world. His security system is made out of board games he got from K-Mart 20 years ago, which the Goodwill wouldn’t take because too many pieces were missing; today, they’re our only clues, moo-ha-ha. But it’s even more diabolical than that: they all have pink, yellow, green, or blue garage sale labels on them and if you don’t organize them by color, the way you would for the church basement sale, Moriarty will — well, at this point you suspect he doesn’t really know how to make poison, he might pee in the sink or something, but what the hell, I mean, we’re here.
If you go because you’re drunk and careless and insane, make sure you ask for hints, it’s half the fun! Moriarty has trained a human being to sit in the corner and stare at you like Banquo’s ghost, and if you ask her anything, she’ll say things so irrelevant and useless, it’s vaguely dream-like. In our game, she never opened her mouth without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. In one example::
“Can we have a hint?”
“The riddle is, find me but don’t see me, right?”
“Yeah, can we just have a hint?”
“Weeeeeelll, what do you find that you can’t see…?”
“I don’t know. None of us know. That’s why we asked for a hint.”
For an insane half-second, I considered asking her to unpack that for me, but the point was to get home as soon as possible, so: “Okay, yeah, pi, thank you.”
“Then multiply it by a thousand.”
“Oh…kay.” This we tried, since it resulted in a nice four-digit number. “That doesn’t work.”
Then she said, in the same you’ll-feel-silly-when-I-tell-you tone, “Well, what’s pi?”
“Yeah, but what is it really?”
“That isn’t it? I mean, I know it’s not… the whole thing… doesn’t it just go on forever?”
“Well, you have to multiply it by a thousand. Because you need a four digit number”
“So move the decimal…”
“Okay, but pi should be just 3.14. That’s what people mean when they say ‘pi’”
“If it has four digits-”
“Times a thousand.”
“Also, the sign of Pisces. See it? On the wall?”
We do a number of arbitrary things, rhotely obedient… the six of us… who are now bored… because this entire puzzle stopped making any logical sense…
“Great job!” she says, and seems to mean it, which makes the whole thing worse.
And, my favorite memory. The stupidest puzzle I’ve ever seen: We had to arrange magnetic letters on a board, spell a word (kind of), then turn the board around a few times to find a different word. The letters we had were W, M, and O. The word we kept coming up with was “Nowamoo…” My team tried to make sense of this.
She came to help us with the magnet board said “Now turn that around and what do you get?”
“Yeah, but… you had it before.”
“Right. Now tuuuurn it around?”
“Oowamon. I said that already. Oowamon. Are you sure we’ve got the letters right?”
“Yeah, you do. So what does it say?”
“No Women! See?!?”
“What..? Oh, nevermind.”
Nine images in front of us corresponded to this clue. If we pressed the right images, the ones that went with “no women”, we’d get our next worn out deck of Uno cards, or whatever. One image was a couple (female) sheep and a shepherd, another was a ballerina; there was a skull (which could be either sex), a flexed biscep (I mean, same, but okay) and it turned out “no women” really just meant “don’t push the ballerina” — see, you actually do have to push the one with the female sheep, because, as I should have known, “Oowamon” upside down is “Newamoo” which means that there were three men on the moon, who the fuck were they?
“I dunno, are we done?”
‘No. No, Michael. You have to play this game, about Professor Moriarty on that one day he didn’t even give a fuck.‘
Look, it’s a cramped and anti-imaginative room whose best puzzle is an incomplete Scrabble box they got for $2 at a thrift store. If I had to do this room over again, I’d find the Scrabble set, and play that.”
“After reading Michael’s review, you’re likely wondering why Professor Moriarty’s Gameroom has any points at all. Honestly, I’ve seen worse, but not by much. Still, for the sake of journalistic integrity…
Theme: there is no point what-so-ever for this to be connected to Professor Moriarty. Not only is it completely incongruous, but the challenges and their solutions are just outright wrong; instead of an evil genius’ torment, it comes across as being written by aliens with only a vague understanding of not only earth games but the English language. Or ‘goal’ was supposedly to find some kind of antidote for some (unexplored) reason, but instead, at the game’s finale, we found an EXIT button (and were glad of it). At least the theme held long enough for us to not have been attacked by a mummy or gangsters or something. This is a prime example of a Yellow room done completely wrong, but more on that later.
Awe: we thank The Great Escape Room for providing the room photo above; we believe it completely conveys the utter lack of memorable tactics they employed in this endeavor.
Care: the props are worn in a way that is very clearly from use and not intent. The staff seems to delight in making it difficult for players to book rooms or have their questions answered (instead of helping our teammates with some routine questions by phone, the staff told her to ‘check the website’). The in-room moderator seemed like she wasn’t paying any attention to us at all, though, wanting to believe the best of her, it might just be impossible to keep an eye on 10 people like this (but room size is also a care issue, just not one she could have solved personally). I did like the card we received at the end of our session though; it listed the room details, moderator info and our completion time. It was a really nice touch for such an abysmal experience.
Teamwork: there were over a hundred puzzle pieces and doo-dads to find and having a large team did help us cover a lot of ground. Sadly, not only were we continuing to find them long after we had solved the puzzles, but none of the challenges required more than one person to complete. As play went on, there was less and less to do, which meant instead of getting more involved, players attention wondered into frustration.
Challenge: there are almost literally 6 puzzles to solve in this experience. They were color coded so that when one found a piece one knew to which puzzle it belonged. As we entered the room, our hostess explained that four of the puzzles could be done in any order, the fifth one could only be completed after the fourth, and all five of those needed to be solved before moving on to the sixth, final puzzle. While that may sound like a well-managed experience, in practice it just meant continual rechecking of spaces/objects for puzzle pieces we didn’t need. There was never a real doubt about what we should be doing next, as with any yellow room, but the thought process needed to solve the challenges was anything but logical.
In short, Professor Moriarty’s Gameroom was so bad that, for the first time in memory, I have absolutely no desire to see other rooms from this venue or any of its chain locations…and that‘s an insult.”
23 1/2 South Magnolia Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801