A few months ago, a very interesting video started doing the rounds on my social media feeds and I was being tagged left, right and centre from various friends bringing it to my attention – as if somehow I had missed it…
This video was the “trailer” for a new kind of Escape Room experience, but themed after The Legend of Zelda – known by many to be my favourite game franchise of all time.
And I certainly didn’t turn down a press pass to partake in the Defenders of the Triforce experience for free!
I shall pre-face the rest of this write up by saying that throughout I will be comparing it to the “regular” Escape Rooms that I’ve seen on TV and have spoken to many friends who have been, but I have not yet been able to do – although one is opening near me very soon and I plan to hit it up as soon as possible.
So, I’ll share my thoughts on it as both an Escape Room experience, and as a Zelda fan experience, as there are different aspects of both sides of it that can be written about.
While I’ll avoid all puzzle/quest clues as much as possible, there will be some “story” spoilers.
You’ve been warned!
Before going to the event, I had heard mixed reviews from people who had been to cities that the tour had already visited, and I tried to ignore them as best I could, to wait and form my own opinions on the event. And thankfully some aspects I ended up disagreeing with while others I thought weren’t too far from the truth.
The main difference between this and your more regular Escape Rooms is the scale of it. Usually Escape Rooms seem to be for one small team of usually between 3 and 6 players, whereas The Defenders of the Triforce experience had roughly 30 tables, each seating up to 6 players. It was on a much larger scale – which made sense as it was a touring event but also had its disadvantages.
Upon entering everyone was given a Kokiri Hat to wear, and ushered to their tables. Upon each table we found an “adventurer’s pack” which we were told not to open until the event started. A strangely bearded Shiek met us on stage to welcome us courageous heroes in Hyrule’s greatest time of need, an introduction video played followed by a brief rundown of how the session would run and the rules to which we had to abide.
Princess Zelda had taken longer than planned to awaken the Hero(es) of time, and we only had an hour left to acquire the Triforce of Courage and the Master Sword and stop Ganondorf’s Tyranny for good (or at least until Ganondorf, Link and Zelda are next reincarnated…).
With the countdown clock started, we were free to delve into our adventurer’s packs, and start working our way through the clues and puzzles within.
There were enough puzzles to solve initially for each person on a team of 6 to have something to try and work through, all somewhat Zelda themed to start with as well. We found that different people were good at different aspects of the puzzles, so where we first just took one each, we ended up swapping them around for different people to solve the ones that “jumped out” at them.
With the first puzzles solved, the clue led us to visit the “Zora Domain” where Lord Jabu-Jabu had to make sure we had the correct “gift” to be allowed access. Within we were given another clue sheet and a chest. We took these back to the table to try and solve.
This routine continued to the “Kokiri Forst” to get a clue from the Great Deku Tree, and to the Goron City – where each gave us more and more clues, until we found the Ocarina of Time and some red Goron Hoods to allow us to go and visit the Temple of time.
We learnt that to get the Master Sword we needed to find the Triforce of Courage. Another clue card sent us back to our table to solve the next string of puzzles. This was when time started catching up with us, and the clues started getting that much trickier. And I’m ashamed to say that we ended up just missing out on getting our hands on the Master Sword, although enough teams did manage, so we did save Hyrule from certain doom.
Overall I found the puzzles to be a lot of fun, and just about everything was done in a very Zelda-esque way which is always good to see. They were suitably challenging on the ol’ noggin, and promoted working as a team nicely. Although it was, partly, that teamwork that let us down, one clue had us stumped, and it was right there on one of the cards that one of our team mates (who weren’t part of my “group” that travelled there) hadn’t read it correctly – combined with the fact that said clue did conflict horribly with Zelda lore, which is why I’d not questioned it (being the geek that I am).
Aside from the Zelda lore conflicting clue there was only really two issues I had with the event. I found it was too crowded. While we were only a clue or two away from claiming the Master Sword, there were a few other groups who were queuing to claim it when the timer ran out. And this was a compounding effect throughout the event, at almost every new “realm” we visited, there was a queue to get in. And when the event so time constricted, it means that people will fail by default if they’re always the last in line.
The only other issue, when compared to what I know of regular Escape Rooms, was the lack of immersion. Many of the regular Escape Rooms I’ve seen or heard about, are a small, permanent, room or set of rooms that are themed throughout to suite the background or story of the Escape Room. If you’re in an Art Deco themed Escape Room, once you step in everything is themed to suit, and everyone has always said how cool that immersion was.
With a touring event of this size, that is just impossible to recreate. The various domains were simply square tents of that colour with suitable symbols/decoration painted on with people in costume outside and/or inside each one to give you the next clue.
I can’t be too harsh on the whole immersion thing, as I understand that to do it on that kind of scale on a touring event would be near enough impossible while keeping tickets reasonably priced. But compared to how brilliant the immersion apparently is in Escape Rooms it’s a bit of a shame this couldn’t match it. But if they were to be able to set up a permanent Zelda themed Escape Room in London… I’d be there in a flash! A tour like this is aiming to let as many fans as possible experience it in a single weekend, the way it had to be designed to work reflects that, I’d just possibly have given an extra 5-10 minutes to make up for the queues.
Overall though, I really enjoyed the event! Both from it being my very first Escape Room experience, and as a Zelda fan. I squealed with joy when we found the Ocarina of Time – and again when I found that it worked as well!
The puzzles made for a great team based game that everyone in our party enjoyed, even the two girls who weren’t huge Zelda fans (one of which had never played a single Zelda game!) really enjoyed it.
While you might have missed the London stop of the Defenders of the Triforce tour, there are still plenty of stops that might be local to you, and if you’re a Zelda fan, I doubt you’ll be disappointed if you go.
Hats of to SCRAP and Nintendo for this collaboration, with the growing popularity of Escape Rooms, I’d really like to see some permanent game themed rooms popping up for that really immersive effect. And not just Zelda either.
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