Curse of Curawood’s Garden – Escape Hub – Maidstone

Present, in February 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant

I do love a pretty game and Curse of Curawood’s Garden came strongly recommended on that front. Marketed as kid-friendly, this also seemed a good halfway game for our Kent Escape Room binge; a bit of a breather before the final rush of big games. Don’t be fooled, as we found this challenge to be surprisingly taxing, for various reasons.

First up, the prettiness. Escape Hub is amazing for the incredible contrast between the perfectly pleasantly normal shopping mall location with a fairly bland entrance hall, and the breathtakingly detailed room-sets that you are launched into. I think the opening section of Curawood is one of the most beautiful ER spaces I’ve been in. I love the rustic, woodsy, fairytale aesthetic and, even though it would be a tight squeeze for a larger team, it was a nice place to linger.

The second stage of the game is almost equally impressive, a real magical garden atmosphere. It is low-key bonkers in ambition and almost pulls it off flawlessly. Part of the ambition is the amount of structural engineering in here, and this creates the first element we found taxing – the level of physicality. Kids will adore the scrambling up, around, out, under and into. My knees did not! It does make the room hugely immersive, but it is important to note that those teams with mobility issues will struggle in here.

The physicality of the game might also be a factor in another of the difficulties we had – there was some wear and tear in the room. One puzzle was broken (but in such a way that didn’t affect our play at all) and on another item the symbols we needed were very faded. We were surprised, given the level of detail and love clearly put into the set, that a few essential pieces for puzzles were unnecessarily flimsy. We did also find the light levels challenging. Nice for atmosphere, but actually impossible for one puzzle.

There was plenty to do, the puzzles were all on theme and we did enjoy our game. The magical elements are very well handled – there are padlocks and keys but also some clever effects. The physical parts of the game stick out in my memory more than the intellectual tasks, and we possibly lost sight of the narrative (turn the absolutely adorable Curawood the owl back into his actual wizard self) by the end. We scrambled out feeling maybe more frazzled than soothed by the enchanted environment. Beyond the first room, we felt like we didn’t quite click with the game and although there was much to admire here, we never quite fell under the spell.

  • Storyline: Undo the curse to save the wizard. It does make sense at the beginning and the end, just a bit Escape Room-logic in the middle.
  • Theming and Set: Fantastic in so many ways, but needed a little love.
  • Searching: Not too significant, but there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
  • Puzzles: Lots of observation and physical tasks.
  • Physicality: Puzzles require dexterity, as well as the mobility required for navigating the room. Someone needs to crawl, and not be claustrophobic (not the whole team though).
  • Scare factor: None.
  • Company Age Guidance: “15+ unless with accompanied with an adult. We would not recommend under 12s, however we will strive to accommodate your groups needs.”
  • Age suitability: Younger ones would probably love the atmosphere. However, you do need at least some mature bodies, as well as some fitter ones!

Escape Hub website