Lacking in both style and substance, Bamboozled leaves a lot to be desired.
There are several escape room themes that have become quite common. The “Saw” torture room. The “heist” room. And, in the case of Cardiff, the “Jumanji” room.
It was with great excitement that I entered City Mazes’ Bamboozled room – remade from their previous room Twisted Heaven. Unfortunately, I left disappointed.
I will caveat this review by saying that we didn’t escape in time. In fact, we never made it out of the first room. Therefore, all of my opinions are based on this first half of the game.
Unlike my other reviews, this will contain spoilers for Bamboozled.
Bamboozled: Theme and immersion
One of my biggest gripes about City Mazes was their lack of decoration. In both the Fall-In and Twisted Heaven rooms, you never shook the fact that you were in a warehouse, with minimum decoration to bring any kind of immersion.
Well, City Mazes tried to rectify this – and to their credit, they did try – but ended up making things worse.
Animal paintings adorn the walls. Some are pressure sensitive, and some need to be opened. There was also an animal mural against one wall, split into four parts.
Was this a puzzle? After several minutes of re-arranging the pieces into its proper place, we realised – no. It was just a piece of wall art that had fallen down (or had been taken down) and not put back up again.
There was still a lot of empty floor space in the room. With the exception of the Jumanji board in the centre, all of the decoration more-or-less hugged the walls of the room.
The build quality on a lot of the game pieces wasn’t great, either. One of the puzzle elements – a set of dice – were largely faded. This meant it became increasingly difficult to figure out what we were looking at.
One of the puzzles involved opening a three-digit combination padlock. But it was so close to the wall that it was incredibly difficult to manipulate the digits on the lock. Even with the correct combination, it still took some effort to open.
Having played the previous game that this room housed, it was also very clear that they had reused decoration from Twisted Heaven.
This wouldn’t have been so bad were it not for the fact that some of the decorative elements still contained puzzles from the previous game (more on that later).
Bamboozled: The puzzles
Bamboozled, however, was the only room I’ve played where was actively annoyed while playing.
As mentioned above, a lot of the decoration from Twisted Heaven was reused in Bamboozled. This included symbols taped onto the sides of plant pots, and a giant 4 digit code written in reverse on the door of the room.
At first I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed they’d reused puzzles. But I quickly realised that it was just forgotten remnants of the old room (or laziness).
There was a decent use of tech in the room. The central Jumanji had a cool mechanism where certain steps on the board would react to the pieces to unlock the next stage of the game. However, there was enough of a delay between you putting your piece on the right spot and it reacting that you might have taken the piece off again, thinking it wasn’t correct.
One of the biggest bugbears for me in this room was the reliance on a blacklight puzzle, in a fairly brightly-lit room, and with a pen-sized UV torch to solve it. If you’re going to have a blacklight puzzle at last have some means of making the room dark.
This is likely not the case for everyone, but for me, the puzzles didn’t seem to follow any kind of logical flow. There was a lot of guessing involved, and it got to the point where I was moving the game pieces to arbitrary spaces along the board – hoping to trigger the mechanism. Such was my frustration.
Bamboozled: Hint system
City Mazes has the worst hint system in all the rooms I’ve played. If they have cameras in their rooms, they don’t use it well enough. Players ask for hints via walkie-talkie -they then describe where they’re stuck and the game master gives them a hint.
The problem with this (and the problem we had) is that they didn’t realise we hadn’t activated something else beforehand. Without this extra knowledge, we were barking up the wrong tree for ages, assuming we were on the right track.
Spend your money elsewhere
City Mazes has one thing going for it – it’s cheap. They often to massive discounts and Groupon offers, so they undercut a lot of their competitors.
The problem is that they can’t back this up with a fun experience as well as other escape rooms.
I didn’t enjoy Bamboozled at all. It felt like a lot of potential that was squandered by sub-par room quality and puzzles that were more frustrating than clever.
I now want to try out The Jungala room at Escape Reality, to see how they tackle the Jumanji theme.
I wouldn’t recommend this room to anyone. It is by far the worst I’ve played to date.
Have you played any of the escape rooms in Wales? Let me know what you thought!
*I played this game for free in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the game.