Sunday, 29 November 2015

Escape Room Melbourne (ERM) - Flemington



My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Escape Room Melbourne’s (ERM’s) original Flemington room in November 2015.  This was our 29th escape room so far in Australia and our ninth escape room in Melbourne.



Iain and Owen were our game masters – they are both clearly enthusiastic about providing genuinely immersive experiences for all players.

I had been looking forward to this room for such a long time.  I had seen this room on TV and on YouTube with various celebrity teams having gone through it.

And it didn’t disappoint.  All of my comments on this room are positive, as follows:
  • this was a frikkin’ awesome room in every way;
  • the theming was phenomenal – it was a really cool room theme which was matched by the props and puzzles within the room;
  • the puzzles were all incredibly creative and all were home-made.  This room was the first escape room (to my knowledge) to open in Australia and some 18 months later, it still has some of the best puzzles we have seen hands down.  They were thematic, clever, really varied and a crap-load of fun;
  • this room had a great mix of hunt and seek fun and puzzle solving;
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective;
  • the game master was really enthusiastic about the rooms; and 
  • we managed to escape in record time (25 minutes).  Owen told us that some 1200 teams had gone through this room, so we were really pleased to equal the record of 25 minutes.  Normally I would mark a room down when we escape so quickly, but I think our team was just on fire and we seemed to be in synch with each of the puzzles (no doubt because we had just tried 5 other rooms designed by Owen Spears (and his partner Ali Cheetham) in the space of 2 days!).  This room is full of a heap of puzzles – our team was busy in different corners working separately on puzzles, which is how we escaped so quickly.

This room was beyond awesome.  Personally, it was my favourite room in Melbourne (of the 9 we tried).  It was a really awesome way to finish our long weekend of escape rooms in Melbourne.

Where:                          9 Lee Street, Flemington

Duration:                      60 minutes

Themes:                       4 rooms (2 in Flemington, 2 in South Melbourne)

Cost:                             
$132 (team of 4)

Overall Summary:        The original escape room and in many ways the best!!


More details:         
       http://www.escaperoom.com.au

EscapeXperience - Burlesque



My group of friends (4 adults) checked out EscapeXperience’s Burlesque room in November 2015.  This was our 28th escape room so far in Australia and our eighth escape room in Melbourne.

We had a great game master for our room (I forgot to take note of his name). 

They currently have 2 rooms in their Oakleigh Mall location – Amnesia and Burlesque, both of which are designed by ERM's Owen Spear and Ali Cheetham.  We tried both rooms back to back.

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about EscapeXperience’s Burlesque room:
  • this was a frikkin’ awesome room in every way;
  • I think this is the best themed room in Australia (at least of the 32 I have tried at the time of writing this review) – the props, the clothing, the puzzles – they all suit the room so perfectly (and cleverly);
  • the room design is excellent - they use the space well and in a really clever way – no real estate is wasted at all;
  • there is a really good mix of hunt and seek fun and clever puzzles;
  • the puzzles are all relatively low-tech (with a couple of semi-high tech ones thrown in for fun);
  • we managed to escape in about 45 minutes, which we were told was a really good time;
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective;
  • the game master was really enthusiastic about the rooms; and 
  • having done both of rooms back to back, we really liked how truly different each of the rooms are (very different themes and very different puzzles in each).

This room was truly awesome.   Not only were we amazed at the quality of the theming, but we all had a really fun time.  Without giving any spoilers, there was one particular point where the immersion level was off the charts (in a way that no other room has offered before).  This was also really cool.

I don’t have any negative feedback on this room at all – it’s about as good as escape rooms get.

Where:                          Level 1, 38-40 Eaton Mall, Oakleigh, Melbourne 

Duration:                      60 minutes

Themes:                       2 themes 

Cost:                            
$144 (4 players)

Overall Summary:        Off the charts theming – one of the very best rooms in Oz.


More details:         
       http://www.escapexperience.com.au/

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Escape Room Melbourne (ERM) - Surveillance Division 5




This review is a little different to most of my reviews.  Rather than try this room, we beta tested it with Owen Spear, who along with Ali Cheetham has designed each of the rooms at Escape Room Melbourne (and the the rooms at EscapeXperience).  

The game was in its early stages of design and testing.  I won't go into the details of the puzzles at all, other than to provide a general overview of this particular room (which is taken from their website):

Melbourne’s newest and most inventive escape experience.  Following a booked-out debut at Federation Square earlier this year, ERM’s escape van has returned to the streets to form part of Australia’s only indoor/outdoor escape room experience.  Sleuth your way around the backstreets of 1960s Melbourne to find the keys to a rogue ASIO surveillance van – but who are they watching, and why? Once inside, your mission will be clear.  Can you get in and out in time (90 minutes) to gather the evidence you need?

Some spoiler-free comments I can make are:

·         the premise is that you need to first find the “room” and then break into that room (which sort of turns the escape room concept on its head, which we loved);
·         for those of you who have tried geocaching before, there is a little bit of that in this escape room (which was a lot of fun);
·         we were able to see most of the puzzles and test different aspects.  There were several puzzles (prototypes) we had never before seen in any other escape rooms in Melbourne or Sydney – home-made puzzles are always the best; and
·         we had a lot of fun, which is always the measure of a great room.

We had heaps of fun and really appreciated the opportunity of beta testing this room.  I’m sure everyone is going to really enjoy this room (which I think has now officially opened).

Where:                          Starting point is somewhere in Flemington

Duration:                      90 minutes

Themes:                       4 rooms (2 in Flemington, 2 in South Melbourne

Cost:                            
$165 (flat rate per team)

Overall Summary:        An “escape room” like no other – great fun!


More details:         
       http://www.escaperoom.com.au

Thursday, 19 November 2015

EscapeXperience - Amnesia Review


My group of friends (4 adults) checked out EscapeXperience’s Amnesia room in November 2015.  This was our 27th escape room so far in Australia and our seventh escape room in Melbourne.

We had a great game master for our room (I forgot to take note of his name). 

They currently have 2 rooms in their Oakleigh Mall location – Amnesia and Burlesque (both having been designed by ERM's Owen Spear and Ali Cheetham).  We tried both rooms back to back.

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about EscapeXperience’s Amnesia room:
  • it was heaps of fun - the theme was really cool;
  • the room design is excellent - they use the space well and in a creative way;
  • there is a really good mix of hunt and seek fun and clever puzzles;
  • the puzzles are all relatively low-tech, but they are really creative.  There were a few puzzles that we had never seen before and which we absolutely loved.  None of the puzzles are boring in this room, which we really loved;
  • we managed to escape in about 35 minutes, which we were told was the best time they had had so far come through the room;
  • the theming was great - the props and puzzles all added to the overall feel of the room;
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective;
  • the game master was really enthusiastic about the rooms; and 
  • having done both of rooms back to back, we really liked how truly different each of the rooms are (very different themes and very different puzzles in each).

This room was a really creative and awesome room.  We have tried a similarly-themed room in Sydney and both the Sydney room (In Memoriam at Enigma Room) and this room are excellent, but each very different. 

The only negative aspect of this room is that there is one particular puzzle that is really difficult (and it doesn’t rely on your brain).  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I won’t say any more, other than that I think this puzzle could be improved to make it less difficult (it’s a good puzzle, but a few tweaks could turn it into a great puzzle).

This was a truly great room.

Where:                          Level 1, 38-40 Eaton Mall, Oakleigh, Melbourne 
Duration:                      60 minutes

Themes:                       2 themes 

Cost:                           
$144 (4 players)

Overall Summary:        A truly great room.

More details:         
       http://www.escapexperience.com.au/

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Escape Room Melbourne - Kellar's Magic Emporium Review



My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Escape Room Melbourne’s Kellar's Magic Emporium room in November 2015.  This was our 26th escape room so far in Australia and our sixth escape room in Melbourne.

Our game master for this room was Katherine - she gave us a briefing before taking us in to start the escape.

They currently have 2 rooms in their South Melbourne location – Mine Escape and Kellar’s Magic Emporium, both designed by Owen Speak and Ali Cheetham.  We tried both rooms back to back.

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about ERM’s Kellar's Magic Emporium:
  • it was heaps of fun - the theme was unlike any other theme we had done before, which I really liked;
  • the room design is excellent - they use the space well and in a creative way;
  • there is a really good mix of hunt and seek fun and clever puzzles;
  • the puzzles are all relatively low-tech, but they are incredibly creative.  There were a few puzzles that we had never seen before and which we absolutely loved.  I particularly loved the bespoke puzzles!!!;
  • we managed to escape in about 35 minutes, using one clue;
  • the theming was beyond awesome - the props and puzzles all added to the overall feel of the room;
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective;
  • the owners are very passionate about their rooms and it shows from the quality of this room (and all of their rooms); and 
  • having done both of their South Melbourne rooms back to back, we really liked how different each of the rooms are (very different themes and very different puzzles in each).
This room was a really creative and awesome room.  I was naturally drawn to the theme of this room and I'm really pleased to confirm that it met my high expectations.

There is nothing at all that I didn't like about this room - it was perfectly themed and the puzzles were all fantastic.  I think this is one of the best rooms that we did in Melbourne (and I think it's up there with the best rooms in Australia).

This room was frikkin awesome.

Where:                   12-18 Yarra Street, South Melbourne 
Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 4 themes (at South Melbourne and Flemington)

Cost:                       
$132 (4 players)

Overall Summary:  One of the best rooms in Melbourne!

More details:         
 http://escaperoom.com.au/

Monday, 16 November 2015

Escape Room Melbourne - Mine Escape Review





My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Escape Room Melbourne’s Mine Escape South Melbourne room in November 2015.  This was our 25th escape room so far in Australia and our fifth escape room in Melbourne.

We were greeted by the very enthusiastic Kevin on arrival, who gave us a briefing before taking us in to start the escape.

They currently have 2 rooms in their South Melbourne location – Mine Escape and Kellar’s Magic Emporium (both of which are designed by Owen Spear and Ali Cheetham).  We tried both rooms back to back.

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about ERM’s Mine Escape:
  • it was heaps of fun - the theme was unlike any other theme we had done before, which I really liked;
  • the room design is simple but very clever;
  • there is a really good mix of hunt and seek fun and clever puzzles;
  • the puzzles are all relatively low-tech, but they are incredibly creative.  There were a few puzzles that we had never seen before and which we absolutely loved!;
  • we managed to escape in about 40 minutes, using one clue;
  • the theming was awesome - the props and puzzles all added to the overall feel of the room;
  • the game master really got into the theatrics of the room, which really added to the experience;
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective;
  • the owners are very passionate about their rooms and it shows from the quality of this room (and all of their rooms); and 
  • having done both of their South Melbourne rooms back to back, we really liked how different each of the rooms are (very different themes and very different puzzles in each).

This room was a really creative but simple room.  There is nothing that I didn't like about this room, other than perhaps I think it would benefit from having an extra puzzle or two. Of all of the ERM rooms, I was drawn to the theme of this room the least (having been immediately drawn to the magic room and the original room at Flemington).  That being said, it was heaps of fun and the quality of puzzles and quality of props and immersion within the room are excellent.  
We loved this room.
Where:                   12-18 Yarra Street, South Melbourne 

Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 4 themes (at South Melbourne and Flemington)

Cost:                       
$132 (4 players)

Overall Summary:  Fantastic room!!

More details:         
 http://escaperoom.com.au/

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Xcape Melbourne - Jurassic Lab Review



My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Xcape Melbourne's Jurassic Lab room in November 2015.  This was our 24th escape room so far in Australia and our fourth escape room in Melbourne.

The foyer was unappealing - they had clearly only opened recently because the artwork on the walls had been half painted, there were piles of slabs of softdrink in the corner.  They didn't look like they were ready to open, in my opinion.  The game masters were not overly enthusiastic at all.

They currently have 3 rooms – Jurassic Lab, Mausoleum Madness and Haunted Prison.  I picked the Jurassic Lab room for our team because it is their most difficult room.  The only reason we did this room was because they had a Scoopon deal on for $75 for a team of 4 (and we had one night to kill on our Melbourne long weekend). 

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about Jurassic Lab:
  • there were a couple of puzzles that were ok; 
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective; and
  • the online booking system was good.

Now for what I didn't like about Jurassic Lab:
  • to be honest, I didn't enjoy this room very much at all;
  • the theming was very poor - to give you an idea of what I mean, there were small plastic dinosaur toys all over the room, the furniture was all cheap and didn't make a great deal of sense in the space;
  • generally, the puzzles were nothing special - we had seen each of the types of puzzles before.  We escaped in 38 minutes and 5 seconds but it was pretty anti-climactic; 
  • the staff were not enthusiastic; and
  • their standard price is $152 for teams of 4.  This is truly ludicrous (and considerably more expensive than other "real" rooms in Melbourne).

I am probably being overly harsh on this room.  Objectively, it wasn't all bad - the puzzles were ok and there was some variety throughout the room.  However, compared to the other rooms in Melbourne that we tried (which were all awesome), this room was not in the same league at all.

Give this one a miss.

Where:                   1/306 Albert Street, Brunswick  VIC  3056

Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 3 themes 

Cost:                       
$152 (4 players) (we had a Scoopon for $75 for 4 people)

Overall Summary:  A very average room - definitely not worth the price!

More details:         
 http://www.xcapemelbourne.com/

Rush Escape Games - Mission:Possible Review



My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Rush Escape Game’s Mission: Possible room in November 2015.  This was our 23rd escape room so far in Australia and our third escape room in Melbourne.

The foyer area looks great.  We were greeted by the very enthusiastic Chloe and Aaron who gave us a briefing before taking us in to start the escape.

They currently have 3 rooms – Da Vinci Down Under, Lost in Paradise and Mission Possible.  We tried all 3 rooms back to back (and we did them in that order, being the order in which the rooms were opened to the public). 

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about Mission:Possible:
  • it was heaps of fun - the theme was unlike any other theme we had done before, which I really liked;
  • the room design is incredibly simple but very clever - it is initially overwhelming when you walk in, but it's very logical and linear;
  • there is a really good variety of puzzles in this room - not too much by way of hunt and seek though as it is a very puzzle-heavy room;
  • there are some cool low-tech and semi high-tech puzzles (many of which we had not seen before);
  • we managed to escape in 38 minutes and 58 seconds.  Before going into the room, Aaron told us that he wanted us to beat the record that had been set back in April for this room - we accepted the challenge and we were successful (much to our surprise), shaving almost 4 minutes off the previous record (and we didn't ask for any hints);
  • the theming was awesome - the props, wall paper and puzzles all added to the overall feel of the room;
  • the use of walkie talkies for communication was simple but effective;
  • I think they have the right number of puzzles for this room (unlike many other escape room outfits who just don’t have enough puzzles to fill out an hour);
  • the owners are very passionate about their rooms and it shows from the quality of this room; and 
  • having done all 3 of their rooms back to back, we really liked how different each of the rooms are (very different themes and quite different puzzles in each).

This room was one of our favourites in Melbourne and in my opinion, Rush Escape Game's best room.  There isn't much that can be improved with this room.  I honestly think it's their hardest room, but we just got lucky with a few puzzles.  I think this room would be pretty tricky for first-timers to solve (without at least a few hints), so I'd suggest warming up on other rooms before trying to tackle this one.

We loved this room - it was truly awesome and a crap load of fun.

Where:                   Suite 4 – 230 Toorak Road, South Yarra 

Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 3
 themes 

Cost:                       
$128 (4 players)

Overall Summary:  Truly brilliant room - one of the best rooms in Melbourne!

More details:         
 http://rushescapegame.com.au/