Posted on February 16 2017 by Rod Lloyd
The Defenders of the Triforce puzzle escape game recently made its debut in cities around the country, giving lucky fans the chance to step into the world of Zelda and assume the role of a legendary hero. Zelda Informer traveled to San Francisco to participate in one of the game’s first sessions, hoping to put our own Legend of Zelda knowhow to the test and overcome the challenges set before us. Join us as we share our impressions of the game, and as we reveal whether our adventure was met with success or failure.
Defenders of the Triforce acts as a collaboration between Nintendo and SCRAP Real Escape Game, creators of several high-profile puzzle escape games around the world. When announced, the game promised Zelda fans the chance to solve puzzles, collect items, and vanquish evil in an adventure inspired by the beloved game series. And when SCRAP said players would assume the role of a hero, we quickly learned that they really meant it.
While we at first expected a single Escape Room inspired by elements of The Legend of Zelda, we came to find that the game offered a larger, more immersive adventure that truly brought the game series to life. Upon entering the event location, each player was presented with a green cap much like that of Link, which was perhaps the best of Defenders of the Triforce’s early surprises. Players don’t just enter the game as heroes inspired by Link, they enter the game as Link himself.
Attendees are even encouraged to cosplay if they so desire, which should certainly help hardcore fans to live out some of their wildest Zelda fantasies.
So after donning the hero’s cap and mustering up the necessary courage, players are presented with the story of Defenders of the Triforce. Loosely based on Ocarina of Time, the escape game is set in a Hyrule besieged by Ganondorf. The hero Link has been sealed away after failing to defeat the dark king, and the land has slowly faded into darkness. Link is awakened after seven years of slumber, confronted with a quest to retrieve the Master Sword and vanquish Ganondorf once and for all.
It’s obvious that Ocarina is a major influence on Defenders of the Triforce. All the game materials bear artwork from the Nintendo 64 classic, and cutscenes from Ocarina of Time 3D are used to convey the story. Players nostalgic for OoT — we know there are a lot of you — will definitely be excited to see more than a few familiar faces and locations over the course of the escape game.
For those worried that Defenders of the Triforce would be the victim of limited space or long wait times, I can assure you that the game is built to accommodate as many players as possible. Attendees (the room allowed for about 100) are first separated into teams of six, with each team given the necessary equipment to start their quests. All teams work through the adventure at the same time, solving the same puzzles and tackling the same challenges. And it should also be noted that the game itself does not actually pit teams against each other (save for bragging rights), so you shouldn’t worry about other teams working against you.
One would expect a large number of Zelda fans questing in the same room would make for some crowded situations. But luckily, our team only encountered two traffic jams over the course of the whole game, particularly because more than three teams or so moved onto the same objective at the same time. Event staff is always present to usher teams along at a reasonable pace and to keep the game moving along smoothly. Working beside so many never really felt like a burden. Save for these minor issues, once the game begins, no players in our team were forced to wait around for others to finish and no one felt like they missing out on anything.
While there isn’t really any pressure to beat out the other teams in Defenders of the Triforce, there certainly is pressure to finish in the game’s time limit. This is an escape game after all. Just like any good time trial, players are tasked with finishing the game in less than 60 minutes. And this is certainly no small feat. In order for players to wield the Master Sword and save Hyrule, they will need to maintain a sharp mind and an attention to detail as the clock quickly ticks down to zero.
At least plenty of Zelda music was playing to ease our anxiety.
In terms of puzzles, Defenders of the Triforce tries its best to stay varied. For example, the game presents a variety of word puzzles, number puzzles, spacial reasoning puzzles, and tiling puzzles. However — especially during the early parts of the game — many of these puzzles are restricted to paper-based worksheets. This decision was perhaps a way for the game to ease players into the later, more difficult puzzles, and there are certainly less paper worksheets as the game progressed, but the fact remains that many puzzles in Defenders of the Triforce act in contrast to more traditional escape rooms.
When all is said and done however, there are still plenty of really inventive puzzles further into the game, especially those based around physical objects a team will collect. Some puzzles involve the use of a traditional Zelda item like an empty bottle or arrow, and more than a few revolve around treasure chests. These were definitely the puzzles I found to be most enjoyable and the most akin to The Legend of Zelda. As well, seeing as Defenders of the Triforce draws inspiration from Ocarina of Time, there were even a few challenges involving time travel.
And if your team ever gets stuck on a really hard puzzle, Navi can be called upon for a hint.
Beyond these puzzles, players will also find themselves travelling to various “regions” around Hyrule over the course of the game. This was the aspect of Defenders of the Triforce that I found most novel. Now, obviously the escape game can’t squeeze an entire kingdom into their gaming space, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t diminish the scope of a traditional Zelda adventure. A number of booths are partitioned off around the game area, with each one based on a familiar location from Ocarina of Time. So, just like Young Link in the midst of his adventure, players will travel to places like Kokiri Forest, Death Mountain, and beyond.
And depending on the difficulty of a certain puzzle, players may just end up visiting the same place again and again. We definitely had to a few times.
It was this travelling aspect that truly put us in the shoes of the hero. Because our team was so frequently travelling back and forth from our table (our home base, if you will) and the areas set up around the game area, our experience with Defenders of the Triforce felt more than your average puzzle escape game. This is a puzzle escape adventure, an adventure that is always introducing new sights to see, new characters to meet, and new challenges to overcome.
And based on our experiences, I can confirm that Defenders of the Triforce remains authentic to the Zelda world. The game’s actors and actresses do a great job portraying the Zelda characters that we’re all familiar with, often times playing up the quirky characteristics of a particular race. I quite enjoyed how the Kokiri spoke in a child-like whimsy or how the Goron rubbed his tummy when posing for a picture.
As well, there are plenty of Zelda props and items to see and find in Defenders of the Triforce. As one would probably expect, there are chests, keys, and rupees to collect throughout the game. But players shouldn’t be too surprised to see a few legendary items pop up over the course of the game too.
Additionally, I was plenty pleased to learn that some of the game’s puzzles and props are inspired by some of Link’s… eccentricities and bad habits. I won’t say much more than that.
In the end, Defenders of the Triforce felt like a great experience for any Zelda fan, from the most casual to the most cynical. It’s clear that the game was built on a true love for The Legend of Zelda, offering an adventure that takes players throughout the best and most recognizable parts of the series. For any gamer that has felt the desire to step into the boots of a legendary hero and set out on an epic quest, Defenders of the Triforce may be one the best ways to go about it.
There may not be any Stalfos to slay or horses to ride, but there are certainly plenty of clever puzzles, enjoyable nods to the game series, and trademark Zelda fun. If you happen to have the chance to give it a go, I would definitely recommend this escape game, especially if you have a group of like-minded Zelda fans to join you.
Now, in case you were wondering if Zelda Informer was able to come out of Defenders of the Triforce victorious, I am happy to report that we did successfully retrieve the Master Sword and save the kingdom of Hyrule. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t get stumped a few times though. The final puzzle in particular proved to be quite the challenge. But through teamwork, dedication, and a keen eye for detail, we were able to finish with, about, two seconds to spare. Yep, we were that close to the buzzer. But regardless of the time remaining, in the end, we were able to raise our legendary blade in victory and see our adventure through to the end.
You can visit the Defenders of the Triforce website right here for locations and ticket availability. SCRAP recently announced a set of dates in Canada, in addition to those in the United States.