Present, in December 2021, were: The Ant, Teenage Avenger, Aunty Ant, Jack-Jack
I haven’t looked at the stats on this*, but my general impression is that escape‘s Witchcraft & Wizardry is the most repeated room in the UK. Most escape branches seem to have one, so it almost feels like a brand signature. The inspiration for their Wizardry world is very clear, and it does seem to skirt dangerously close to copyright issues. Instinct, and my preference for unique games, suggested avoiding this game and seeking out something more original instead.
However, Witchcraft & Wizardry is the second (and final, for us) room to play at escape Milton Keynes (actually Wolverton). We really enjoyed Sabotage, their unique tribute to the local railway industry, and felt that this small franchise, run with a lot of care and devotion, deserved more support.
We also needed a family-friendly room, as we had Jack-Jack in tow, and this fits the bill beautifully. Set in a magic school, you have to retrieve your wand before class starts – so minimal jeopardy in a fantastical yet cosily familiar world. A little limited for space to begin with, so as a four we were slightly tripping over each other, but this is not a problem once the game develops.
Some franchise rooms we have done have looked tired, or sometimes a little thrown together. Here, I was very impressed with the quality of the build and the props, and it creates a lovely atmosphere. Everything is on theme and the extra set-dressing polishes the room without ever feeling like unfair red herrings.
There are a few padlocks, but also enough magic touches in the progression elements to keep immersion and atmosphere. The puzzles were neat and with generally clear, satisfactory solutions. One puzzle Aunty Ant took issue with as not making sense – we did struggle with it for a while but were basically overthinking it by trying to NOT overthink it, and ultimately it made sense to Teenage Avenger and me, even if Aunty Ant continued to grumble! Clues were given via a screen – ok, maybe that was the only anachronism – and we were expertly and discreetly GM’d by Honor.
Despite our little hiccup with that one puzzle, we rattled through Witchcraft & Wizardry in just over half an hour. This wasn’t particularly due to lack of content or super-easy tasks, but the game would definitely be on the easier side, as befits a kid-friendly experience. Seasoned escapers wouldn’t have any difficulty with this, just a gentle brain workout, but it is nicely achievable for all levels.
If you are travelling a distance to this venue, I’d recommend a double header – Sabotage is a fun, unique game which we found a little more challenging. I’d also recommend the nearby Black Sheep cafe for cake and hot chocolate. I haven’t (obviously) played Witchcraft & Wizardry at the other available venues but, particularly for younger wizarding fans, I’d pick Wolverton as the first choice for this game, to be sure of a great experience.
*According to the indispensable Escape The Review, there are 18 copies of Witchcraft & Wizardry in the UK and Ireland. Each version of the room may have significant differences to the others, with many of the venues even carrying an alternate, scarier-sounding storyline.
- Storyline: Find the wand, simple enough.
- Theming and Set: Lovely, especially for fans of, ahem, magic schools .
- Searching: A little bit, not enough to trip us up on one of our classic search-fails.
- Puzzles: On theme, nothing super-challenging.
- Physicality: None, although we did find walking through a doorway illogically difficult!
- Scare factor: None, Jack-Jack was never perturbed by anything.
- Company Age Guidance: “10+”.
- Age suitability: Very family-friendly, under-10s would be fine in here as part of a mixed-age team.