With another anniversary coming up on our end, we’d like to highlight the Duel at Dusk, our Western saloon themed room as it approaches its 4th year anniversary. Often referred to simply as “The Duel,” it is a great game for the folks of all ages, experiences, and strengths. While geared more towards first time players, don’t let that fool you as just over half of the groups escape within the hour; it still presents its fair share of diverse and interesting puzzles that still challenge folks years later.
After a little too much fun the night prior at the local saloon, you vaguely remember that you have been challenged to a duel by a mysterious stranger taking place today at dusk. Unfortunately, you have misplaced your gun and other crucial items that will give you a leg up against this rapscallion. Fortunately, the bartender has agreed to give you and your posse one hour to search through the saloon to retrieve your lost items. Exit the saloon with these trusted, lucky items within the hour, and there’s no way you’ll lose. Don’t find them, and you may as well leave town!
Our main purpose for Duel at Dusk was to create an escape room with an undeniably Western saloon setting with a variety of themed puzzles. We wanted the puzzles and play of the game to not be fully linear, allowing for the potential for multiple things being worked on and solved simultaneously, but not as intensely as Nefertari’s Tomb. Additionally, we intended for these puzzles to make you think about things in alternative ways and get you to approach them differently if they aren’t initially solved with your first attempt. A lot of the elements in this scenario do require cooperation with multiple members of your group, increasing participation and allowing for everyone to contribute in some way rather than one or two players solving things on their own.
While not nearly as many as that earworm of a song, every single one of the 55 liquor bottles behind the bar had their labels individually designed by one of the owners. Some are references to other iconic western tropes, like Gold Rush Whiskey, Eastwood Brandy (a nod to the actor, Clint Eastwood, and his fame found in the old “spaghetti westerns” of the 1960’s), and Jig Juice (slang for a questionable concoction presumed to be whiskey in the Wild West.)
The name of the saloon in Duel at Dusk actually comes from a shared experience with the staff at the time. About halfway through installation, our muralist and game master brought everyone some churros from a local chain restaurant; a small kind gesture was just what we needed to boost morale. As we eagerly took giant bites, instead of a warm sweet cinnamon delight, we were all as the churros were coated not in sugar but thoroughly coated with salt. Once regaining our wits and desalinated tongues, we found the entire experience to be so humorous, that we wanted to memorialize it by naming the Duel at Dusk saloon after our less-than-ideal, briny, culinary encounter: the Salty Churro.
The mural outside the saloon doors, created in house by one of our talented Game Masters, resembles a sunset to help set the stage for your impending duel and fate!
One of the final touches of building the scenario, we added an old school cash register (thank you, Craig’s List!) to embellish the Western energy of the space. Come play Duel at Dusk to see what secrets it holds!
We added a puzzle halfway through beta testing the room to help it flow better and another layer of play to the game. One of the test groups was quite the well-oiled escape room machine and flew through the game with flying colors (and incredibly fast time). The design team went back to the drawing board looking at other puzzles that didn’t make the cut, polishing up the best one of that lot, and building it into the room within a day for the rest of the test groups.
Duel at Dusk is a classic escape room with puzzles accessible for all ages young and old (read about how kids can excel with the proper support in this scenario). We recommend this room for multi-generational groups, groups with varying experience levels, and groups seeking a hootenanny of a time! The variety of props, cooperative elements, diversity of puzzles, and campy theme make the Duel at Dusk the fun filled escape room adventure enjoyed by almost 3,000 groups in nearly 4 years!