Review: Algernon’s Shop of Magical Goods by Escape Room RVA

Review – Algernon’s Shop of Magical Goods by Ravenchase’s Escape Room RVA
Website Link – ​​https://www.escaperoomrva.com
Location – Richmond, VA
Price Per Person – ​​$25 ($80 minimum)

Disclaimer: we purchased the tickets for the escape room with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.

Background/Room Premise:

Over the years, Ravenchase has provided us with a lot of fun.  We’ve faced and completed rooms at their Escape Room RVA location for over half a decade.  Not only do we keep coming back, but we had to check out their other locations in Herndon and Arlington, VA as well.  Each time Ravenchase tries a new venture, we make a point of supporting them: Gnome and Raven, Reveler, and their (unfortunately now closed) Warehouse 29.  For the majority of our outings, we’ve left impatiently waiting for their next endeavor.  They are easily one of our favorite escape room providers.

The Escape Room RVA location recently opened up a new room and it felt perfect for celebrating Confetti’s birthday.  Two friends, one of whom was also celebrating a birthday, joined us as well.

Our foursome took on Algernon’s Shop of Magical Goods.  A local wizard has not only been delinquent on his rent, but no one has seen or heard from him for a while either.  The city guards are a little too spooked to investigate his shop, so it’s up to our group to enter his store and to figure out what’s been going on with this rent-owing wizard.

Big Note: It turned out that the recently opened room had yet to establish a record holder.  That meant that no other team had successfully completed the room without a hint.  Being a team of fairly experienced puzzlers, we let our game master know we’d be going for the golden gnome (their requirement for making a run eligible to earn a record).  No hints, sixty minutes, and a magical mystery; could we claim the grand prize or would the wizards’ shop make our hopes of achieving our goal disappear?

Our Thoughts:

As always, Ravenchase did an excellent job of theming their room.  While this wasn’t the most immersive room we’ve done with them, it was still quite impressive.  Outside of just the necessary pieces for their puzzles, they add a lot of details and props to make the room really pop and feel like it could be an actual wizard’s shop.  This adds to the level of immersion, but it also keeps the puzzles from obviously being the only items in the room.  Players have to use a discerning eye or they may spend too much time on unimportant artifacts.

The room’s puzzles were scattered about nicely and in a way that allowed all four of us to explore and figure out clues as we wished.  We always appreciate a room that doesn’t feel too linear and lets players work on different aspects of the room simultaneously.  This room found a nice balance of regularly pulling us together to exchange information while also letting us each be hands on throughout.  

As we advanced through the room, the puzzles made sense, never feeling out of place or like leaps of logic.  Solving puzzles gave further tools to progress or some sort of reward to give the constant sense of growing success while still pointing toward more to do.  Different elements of the room were clued well or simply took a little common sense and the power of observation to put together.  Overall, the puzzles felt well designed and spread throughout the room.  

While we hit a few slowdown points here and there, our pace mostly stayed steady.  Our focus was on the room and we never wanted to get too confident, but the golden gnome seemed like a real possibility for the majority of our time playing.  Unfortunately, we fell victim to two different issues.

Our first problem was that all our non-colorblind participants saw one number in a clue as the same number, which happened to be the wrong one (our fourth member couldn’t help with this one due to his aforementioned colorblindness).  Even after multiple double checking attempts, all of us still saw the number one way and not as what it was intended to be.  That alone might have sucked, but what really did us in was that the wrong number actually allowed us to accidentally bypass a puzzle and open a lock we shouldn’t have been able to; whoops!  That means we used information for one lock on another and didn’t realize we still needed that info to keep going.  That’s not an easy issue to bounce back from.

Since we didn’t know the information we had was still needed (with the right number of course), we suddenly found ourselves with “nothing” to help us with our current locks.  We scurried about the room looking for any information we might have missed.  This is where our second issue came up.  Remember our warning about red herrings?  Sadly, we became convinced that something else in the room had to be useful and we wasted a lot of time on meaningless props. 

Burning at least ten minutes on hopeless endeavors and seeing our time running out, we finally gave in and asked for a hint, disqualifying ourselves from golden gnome and record eligibility.  The clue we got let us know that the number we were all convinced was something else was what it was meant to be.  That allowed us to open a lock we hadn’t yet and then the rest of the room flew by.  

We successfully escaped in time, but in the oddest of ways.  Because the now open lock gave us several pieces of information including clues about the puzzle we already unknowingly bypassed, we suddenly began working on that while the final escape was already opened.  It created a strange moment of, “oh, we’re done?”  instead of what was clearly set up to be a bit more epic.  

We still enjoyed the room a lot, but it was a bummer that several factors came together to prevent us from experiencing the ending as intended. It won’t prevent us from coming back as soon as they open a new room (and one day, we’ll win a coveted golden gnome too)!

Official C&C Rating:

Theming: 4/5
Puzzles:  4/5
Overall Fun: 4/5

Final Averaged Score: 4/5

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