Cue “Zelda’s Lullaby”

As an avid Legend of Zelda player and room escape fan, I snagged tickets for the Defenders of the Triforce escape game the second they went on sale for Chicago. Flanked by five friends/fellow fans, I was ready to defy Ganon’s tyranny and defeat him with plenty of the allotted 60 minutes to spare. Our actual results were far more suspenseful.

In the two months leading up to the game, I practiced the puzzle dungeon and researched the game. Reviewers praised the fan service and the puzzles within the adventure while being careful to warn potential participants that it’s not a “traditional” escape room. A typical room puts a single team of people in a space packed with riddles and physical challenges, sometimes including an obstacle (like a zombie on a chain). The Zelda escape game packed 30 teams into an event space. We didn’t compete against any other teams, but the large space was full of people bumbling about in an attempt to solve the riddles.

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Despite the game’s differences from other escape challenges, it entertained us and stressed us out. The first set of puzzles took us 20 minutes to solve, and we thought we were too far behind to accomplish our goal within the 40 remaining minutes. We persevered, though, and powered through each and every puzzle. Unexpectedly simple but sensible answers jumped out at us. We ran around the room to glean information from Kokiri, Gorons, Zoras, and other Hyrule inhabitants. We explored areas multiple times for additional clues. Everything ran smoothly, save for the occasional wait in line to talk to a character who would lent us wisdom on our quest.

Time ran short, and unlike in a Zelda game, we couldn’t simply play a tune on the Ocarina to slow it down. But we had solved the final riddle and waited in line to finally wield the Master Sword. We pulled the legendary weapon from its pedestal with literally one second left on the clock. We were one of 13 teams in the room to defeat Ganon.

This surprising, fun, and interesting take on room escapes exceeded all my expectations; the fan service, challenge, and suspense made for an engaging and remarkably suspenseful experience. It’s touring now, and any Zelda fan (particularly Ocarina of Time diehards) should check it out!

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