Published April 1st, 2019 @ 4:24 am EST by Michael

REVIEW: The Quest: Revenge of the Garzon Dragon by Escape Goat (Orlando, FL)


5/5 Claws

Challenge: 8.5
Awe: 7.5
Care: 9
Theme: 8
Team: 9
Signature Color:  Green

Paul :

This locally-owned venue has long been a hidden gem in the Orlando escape room scene.  But the latest room available at Escape Goat has become one of our favorites.  The thing that makes The Quest: Revenge of the Garzon Dragon such a delight lies in its gameplay.  Perfect for a diverse group of players, The Quest has an asynchronous game flow, meaning that there are always a number of puzzles that players can take on, preventing players from feeling as though they are waiting around for something to do.

While this type of game is not unique in the escape room industry, what sets this specific room apart from others of this style is that each of its 4 main puzzle paths caters to a specific kind of player.  Narratively set up as a test for players in the home of a great wizard, The Quest quickly highlights a progress tracker for players as they are tasked with collecting 4 challenge orbs.  Being a player that enjoys physical puzzles, I quickly gravitated toward a large apparatus in one corner of the room (loudly declaring ‘I got this’ to my teammates).  While my more logically minded partners gravitated toward their specialties, I was able to play to my own strengths and produce one of the coveted orbs all by myself.

Escape Goat is unafraid to venture into new ground in the escape room industry and has included a final challenge in The Quest which was a bit avant garde.  It was refreshing to be offered an option to conclude the game’s story on our own terms, but ultimately, we overthought it.

Never has a room so expertly allowed me to highlight the specific skill-set I bring to my team, and for that reason alone, The Quest is not to be missed.

 Michael : 

You won’t need to scrutinize the artisanal puzzles and furniture in this gourmet, medieval-themed room. I can’t say it felt like being immersed in anything — I felt like I was steeping in the setting, like a tea. As if I wasn’t supposed to search the room, I was just supposed to… soak in it. It felt nice.

The set is an alchemist’s or apothecary’s cozy workshop / den, and it’s pretty easy on the eyes. But under its insistent homeyness, it plays a lot like other rooms. It just looks better, and was assembled with more care. That’s fine. It doesn’t try to be spectacular so much as deeply habitable. It succeeds. Set in a free-floating “once upon a time”, it’s almost overwhelmingly tasteful, with many elements made from unfinished wood, the kind found in the toys aristocrats give their children. This lends the place the feeling of a nursery for good toddlers, and all but commands a kind of healthful quiet.

This is not to say the place bored me. Its stubbornly sensible scenario invites deep engagement. Without intending to, I felt like I was role-playing a grumpy wizard as I mixed and measured my ingredients (and muttered arcane grievances when I couldn’t get the spell to work).  Quest has a rare coherence overall, like an award-winning museum diorama. That’s its strength and its weakness. The room is on the gentle side, for my taste. Still, that’s what it’s going for, and this is a  good choice for families with quieter, game-skeptical members. If someone in your party isn’t much for games but loves antique stores, this room should be high on your list.

My only problem with this room concerns the narrative elements, and how the designers tried to include a bit of story in the experience. Normally, my objection to such things is that we players can’t be expected to invest in a game’s story. Escape rooms are not a load-bearing medium, and the weight of a full story breaks them. This room wisely sidesteps that problem, and gave the narrative a light touch: not so much a whole tale as a premise. As a result, when an ethical / narrative decision came up, we stopped in our tracks, looked at each other, and took it seriously.  “What should we do?” we asked each other, just as we would have if the dilemma had been real. We came to an agreement as a group, then held our breath to hear the consequences of our decision — and it meant nothing. The game asked players to make decisions that changed the story — but none of those choices turned out to matter to the game.

I’ve seen this before. In fact, it may have been the central philosophical weakness of It’s a Trap, the venue whose obsession with story for its own sake invited much undeserved skepticism into their work. At points, I thought Quest was about to transcend that, only to discover that the moral decision I’d just made was “only for the story”, just a bit of flavor with no connection to the gamestate. Oh, Escape Goat… you were so close.

Most designers would respond to this complaint by explaining themselves: they didn’t feel it was important to blah blah blah, or they were really just trying to yadda-dada-da, as if any of that were hard to understand. What I’m asking is: What if such decision points remained infrequent and simple — but actually changed the game? What if they mattered? The most interesting choices we were asked to make were the ones that mattered least. Ironically, that made the rest of the experience seem a little condescending. The fantasy theme faded, in light of that, to daycare center wallpaper, whose dull colors are chosen to keep children from getting too enthused. Wonderful as it is, I have the strangest feeling Quest is trying to give its makers an opportunity they’re too cautious to accept. It wants to be, and could be, something ever-so-slightly more than it now is.

These are fairly small complaints, in context. Overall, Quest is a unique experience, a beautifully made environment, and a very well-balanced game.


1165 E Plant Street
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(573) 783-9534
www.escapegoatroom.com

 

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