Telford, Jun 2019
Few names are as closely associated with escaping as Houdini’s, and Mystereum is set in a museum dedicated to the performer. A mysterious stranger has invited you in and left you trapped – a thin but adequate excuse for a room of escapology-inspired puzzles.
Note that, to fit with the Houdini theme, if you’re playing as a team of four you’ll start the game handcuffed together (in pairs, not all together). Exactly how long that lasts depends on where you focus on first, and could potentially be for a substantial part of the game. With only three of us they waived that, since probably wisely they don’t use the restraints with small groups. Having played other games with a similar setup, my experience is that it can be a fun novelty and challenge, but can also outstay its welcome. If you play Mystereum and find the restraints begin to reduce your enjoyment of the game, I’d suggest asking the gamemaster to nudge you towards a way out of them; I suspect they’d be happy to oblige.
It’s a modest sized room, and looks very much like a museum exhibition. That was in fact one of the things I liked most about this room: the surroundings provide plenty of clues to the puzzles, but also genuinely serve as a museum commemorating Houdini’s life and career, small-scale but interesting and informative.
Puzzle style was quite non-linear and heavily lock-driven, with puzzles that had few connections to each other but which tied into the Houdini theming well. The extremely large blackboard provided for players to make notes was a nice touch – much nicer than a small portable board or tablet.
The best conjuring tricks are simple but baffling until you know how they’re done, and one of Mystereum’s puzzles is worth highlighting for achieving a similar effect, doing something that briefly seemed impossible. That was a small but satisfying moment in an escape room that could also be described as small but satisfying: it’s unlikely to make many experienced players’ top five games list, but there was plenty to do and little to nit-pick.