By Abbie Burrus, Marisa Dinsmoor, and Adam Rainbolt
Although it is not immediately obvious from the street, Puzzle Effect San Luis Obispo on Marsh Street holds within it monumental mystery and excitement. As part of the “escape room” phenomenon, the business features several rooms filled with puzzles of varying difficulty. The goal is simple: work with your teammates to solve the puzzles and find your way out within an hour.
We chose to experience “Grim Stacks,” which is described as being medium difficulty with a wizard theme. When entering Grim Stacks, you’re met with a whimsical sight. It’s a library straight out of a fantasy novel, books and boxes stacked to the ceiling. There are glass cases with colorful vials, gems, and skulls of mysterious creatures. The suspense is heightened as you notice the large screen on the wall with a countdown starting. The secrets held inside the fantastical setting are not immediately obvious, but as time ticks down and hints are discovered they should be slowly uncovered.
Teams must work together to solve the mysteries and move on to new puzzles. With the added stress of the time limit, don’t be surprised if your group is soon running around and shouting as they are caught up in the excitement of finally solving a mystery. Throughout the room, we were all running around as a group, frantically shouting out the number of certain items we saw or suggestions as to what we should try next. Lights, sounds, and intricately designed props are all encountered along the way, firmly establishing the experience in its magical setting.
The employees are energetic, enthusiastic, and friendly. When explaining the locks and rules of the room, they create a sense of excitement and joke with the customers. The employees also tell an intriguing scenario with high stakes before you enter the room, completing the atmosphere inside the room itself. Additionally, in our experience, the employees were very friendly and conversational.
Grim Stacks was challenging and required a lot of teamwork for problem solving. It was difficult but not frustrating. There are three rooms total, and the themes of the rooms change every few years. That room has a 30% success rate, meaning people escape the room 30% of the time. There are two other rooms with different levels of difficulty. The dystopian city escape room called Pipe Works has a 50% success rate, and Curse on the Emerald Seas, a pirate-themed room, has a mere 10% success rate.
The Puzzle Effect SLO is an awesome destination for birthday parties, team building and bonding, and even for friends and family who want to do something fun together and solve a puzzle. Anyone who enjoys critical thinking, problem solving, or like working under timed pressure in a themed environment should definitely go give Puzzle Effect SLO a try.
Check out their website here.