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April 2, 2018

MindSpark: Spellbound, Terminal, Zombie Room (Tempe, AZ)

MindSpark has locations in Tempe, AZ and Austin, TX and was at the top of everyone's list to visit in the Phoenix area. The staff was exceptionally welcoming and friendly which was something we felt from a lot of the staff in the Phoenix rooms that we played. We went through all three games at this location. From their site:

Spellbound (The original room is from Rise in Tickfaw, LA)
"Hidden deep in the woods lies a cabin that was at one time inhabited by a coven of witches tasked with guarding our world from the rise of the vampires. Unfortunately the witches have long since vanished and the protection spell is wearing off. Use the clues left behind to find vampires' lair and destroy the king before he rises again."

Terminal Room
"You and your team have boarded a subway car, when the car crashes into an abandoned subway station. You explore the station and soon learn of a conspiracy. Your team must learn the details and stop the impending results."

Zombie Room
"Trapped with no way out, chain link by chain link a brain-crazed and bloodthirsty zombie invades the room. You and 11 others must solve the room before the time runs out and the zombie is unleashed. With only sixty minutes and your brains, you must uncover clues, decipher riddles, and discover the keys to unlock your freedom."

Puzzles, Technology & Set Design

The set design at Spellbound, similarly to the other rooms we played at MindSpark, was great. It was pretty dark which set the tone well but it would have been nice if ample light was provided for the second half of the game so we didn't have to struggle with flashlights. The vampire's lair felt real and the atmosphere was immersive. 

The parallel puzzles were of the tangible sort and most of them made sense. There was one part that stumped us for a while and we should've used more hints as we went along but, you know, pride. The reveal towards the end of the game was great and the the final puzzle was thematically awesome.

Terminal Room
The setting started off in a NYC subway cart and similarly to the "Terminal" room that was played at a completely different company, Escape Games Canada, in Toronto, the set was spot on. There was a special feature that MindSpark put into this set that made it stand out from anything we have experienced in the past. The latter part of the game becomes more ordinary and the goal, as described before you play, was to solve the case (whodunnit style) rather than escaping which made it anticlimactic

This room was search heavy and had a ton of red herrings. Some red herrings looked useful while other clues that looked like red herrings were actually legitimate. Many puzzles involved random solutions without any logical sense and there was one tedious puzzle that no one wanted to believe was really a solution. There was one solution which seemed to require outside knowledge.

Zombie Room
This room was pretty much played in a single open space and the chain that held the zombie back got longer as time progressed, which is standard for a Zombie in the room type of game. This was actually our first zombie in a room game given we aren't the biggest fans of horror themes. The chain length advanced rapidly and before the halfway mark, the zombie can pretty much wander to any part of the room.

The actress we had was insane! She jumped on tables, licked the floor (we heard she sometimes licks people), screamed and whipped her chain so hard that sparks would fly out. She was so hyped up! If you are into this type of thing, then you will surely be impressed.

The game master, a butler in the room, was played by another actor and he was also outstanding and perfectly in character the whole time. Our team advanced quickly and we were stuck on a puzzle but given he didn't want to provide the clue until the towards the end, we basically spent 20 minutes just dodging the zombie and not solving anything.

There weren't a lot of puzzles and the ones that were present were not special in any way. However, it was impossible to even solve the simplest puzzle when the zombie can touch you at any moment. There was one task that had to be completed right beside the zombie, who could conceivably choose to touch you at any time. Everyone will be touched and the butler will make you do something funny (run around the room on one leg...) in order to revive you.

Memorable Moments 

The final part to the game was pretty awesome and well done. It's what you see in the movies!

Terminal Room
The starting subway cart was something novel and quite the experience. By far the best part of the game.

Zombie Room
Crazy, rabid, licky girl on steroids.

Room For Improvement

It didn't feel necessary to play the entire game in such darkness. Let there be light!

Terminal Room
Removing the red herrings and having a logical link between puzzles would be a great improvement.

Zombie Room
The zombie shouldn't be able to touch you so quickly! Or should she...

Overall Thoughts

Spellbound was the clear standout for our team at MindSpark. The set designs in all rooms were a treat (I believe the owners also run haunted houses) and a pleasure to view.

  • Set design: Amazing
  • Difficulty: Medium-Difficult
  • Price: $39.95+tax/person, use coupon code: SHERLOCK for $10 off
  • Number of players: 10-12 max, (we recommend 4-5), public
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Spellbound ★★★★½, Terminal Room ★★★½, Zombie Room ★★★½
See their website here: http://mindsparkescape.com

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