Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review of Escapism Strike Bowling - Forensic theme

My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Escapism at Strike Bowling at King Street Wharf in January 2015, not long after they had opened.

When you arrive, you hand over your credit card as a deposit (in case of any damage to the room).  We sat in the Strike Bowling bar as we waited for our room to be ready.  There must have been some issues because we didn't start until about 15 to 20 mins after our allotted time.  We were blindfolded and were walked down to our room, where our 50 minute count down clock began with a slam of the door...  

This room was the fifth escape room that my group had done in Sydney.  I purposefully selected the Forensic room, as it is their hardest room (and I wanted a real challenge).  I certainly got what I asked for...

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about Escapism at Strike Bowling:
  • the theming was excellent - the props and room were very well detailed and suited the theme perfectly;
  • the quality of puzzles and challenges in the room was also excellent.  Although they were all pretty low-tech compared to other escape rooms in Sydney, what they lacked on the high-tech front they made up for in quality (everything worked flawlessly); and
  • we managed to escape this incredibly difficult room with time to spare (although to be honest it was the rest of my group who solved the harder puzzles, not me).

Now, for what I didn't like so much:

  • the escape rooms at Strike Bowling are only part of what the staff have to look after (they also look after the bar).  On one occasion when I tried calling through for a clue, the phone rang out 3 times before they finally answered (which wasted about 5 minutes).  I think given the price that you pay for rooms here (which is pretty steep at $150 per room on a weekend), they need at least one dedicated staff member (if not two) to look after the rooms. Every other escape room outfit has at least one dedicated staff member for all rooms (and the better ones have one dedicated staff member for each room);
  • while I really enjoyed the puzzles, there was very little in the way of "hunt and seek" fun.  Instead it was lock after lock (something like 6 locks at the very beginning of the game, which was a little overwhelming).  I would have preferred a better mix of hunting and seeking (together with the locks and puzzles).  That being said, others in my group really enjoyed the difficult puzzles, so each to their own;
  • the room is small (easily the smallest room of any escape we have tried).  I found that with 4 adults, we were constantly getting in each others' way.  The room needed to be at least 25 to 50% bigger in my opinion - I couldn't imagine playing this room with 6 people (which is the maximum permitted). You would not be able to move and too many people would inevitably feel left out.  I think the maximum number of people in this room should be limited to 4; and
  • this was by far the hardest room we have done so far.  This is not a criticism (they do advertise this as being their most difficult room and we were told that only 5% of people escape this particular room).  However, my criticism is that the escape only goes for 50 minutes, unlike the usual 60 minutes that is the norm with all other escape room outfits.  Even though we escaped with 6mins and 35secs left on the clock (ie it took us 43mins 25secs to escape), we honestly got a little lucky with some good guesses towards the end.  In my opinion, the time length of this room should be extended to 60 minutes.  I also think a 5% success rate is far too low and isn't something to be proud of - such a low success rate is only likely to turn people away from the fun of escape rooms, which is in nobody's interests (ie it's no fun to spend $150 only to be bamboozled the whole time).  If they added another 10 minutes to the length of the game, then I think the success rate would increase to a more reasonable number.

All 4 people in our group really enjoyed ourselves.  However, I would only recommend this escape room to experienced players - if this had been my first escape room, I definitely would have been very frustrated and may have been turned off escape rooms for good.  

Where:                    22 The Promenade, King Street Wharf, Sydney

Duration:                50 minutes

Themes:                 3 themes 

Cost:                       $100 per team (Mon to Thurs) or $150 per team (Fri to Sun)
                                [2 to 6 players]

Overall Rating:       4.0 out of 5 stars

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