I have made this blog to provide my thoughts on the various escape rooms that have opened up recently in Sydney, Australia. I have been to almost all escape room outfits currently open in Sydney and a total of 52 different rooms so far in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide), as well as others around the world. Hopefully others who are interested in trying escape rooms will benefit from this blog. My aim is to help you to spend your hard-earned money on awesome rooms, not crappy ones...
fellow escape room buddies and I (4 adults in total) tried this room (at the
invitation of Exitus Escape Room Macquarie) on their opening long weekend in
February 2016. This was our 25th room in Sydney (and our 35th
room in Australia) so far…
Bowling already runs Escapism at King Street Wharf in Sydney (and in other
states of Australia as well). They
recently acquired Exitus, an independent escape room operator in Melbourne,
which had mixed reviews on TripAdvisor.
The rooms at Exitus Escape Room Macquarie are a mix of rooms designed by Exitus
(Moonshot and Injustice) and Escapism (Forensic). Interestingly, Forensic at King Street Wharf
is being replaced soon with Casino Royale, which is supposed to be their
had already escaped from each of the 3 Escapism rooms at King Street Wharf and
those rooms were reasonably good (but the service was below average), so we
went into Exitus Macquarie with average/low expectations.
I set out the pros and cons of a room in my reviews. However, I really don’t have many good things
to say about this room, which was really disappointing for all in my team.
however have a very long list of the things that I didn’t like (or which could
(and should) be improved):
no story in this room. The puzzles had
no bearing to the storyline in any way.
puzzles themselves were not well designed.
All of the puzzles had been done before elsewhere. They were clunky – the solutions were not
perfect (often requiring additional clues in the form of blacklight text hidden
in the room) to solve. We all found the
3.One of my
bigger annoyances with this room is that there is one puzzle in particular that
has a fundamental error in it. I won’t
give spoilers, but the only way to solve this particular puzzle is with a clue
(because the “answer” is simply incorrect).
above-mentioned puzzle is all kinds of wrong.
It requires external knowledge to solve (many tourists probably won’t
have a chance with this puzzle). They
also use a blacklight marker to provide a clue for players, but they
acknowledge that this “rubs off” easily so it really isn’t of any benefit. There are other major flaws with this puzzle
but I can’t go into it any further without providing spoilers.
of the room is poor. There is no wow
factor puzzle or props – they are all just “meh”.
6.We had to
rush the final puzzle because we were running out of time (in the end we only
escaped with 6 seconds on the clock). I
think this last puzzle is probably the only decent puzzle in Moonshot.
aspect that I didn’t like is the clue system.
My feedback on Strike Bowling’s Escapism rooms at King Street Wharf was
that the escape rooms are an “add on” to Strike’s main business of alcohol
sales (together with bowling and karaoke).
Almost every time with Escapism, we called for clues and the phone rang
out, or we escaped and nobody knew we had done so (until we lined up at the bar
and made our way to the front to speak with the gamemaster/bartender).
Strike’s solution to this? Make the clue
system almost entirely automated, requiring little to no staff member
involvement. That’s right, there are QR
codes all over the room and if you get stuck, you can get a clue or an answer
to any puzzle (but this costs 5 points and 10 points respectively). It is still not clear to me what “points” are
– I assume they add to your total time to escape, but I’m not sure if one point
equals one minute. I find this really
lazy and it does not at all address my criticism that in order to have a great
experience, you need a dedicated gamemaster for each room. Their hint system is even worse than Escapism
– instead of having a busy bartender/gamemaster, you now have no gamemaster at
the fact that we only just made it out in time, there were not nearly enough
puzzles in this room. There were 5
puzzles in total, which is about the fewest puzzles of any room I can think of
(with the exception perhaps of Escapism’s The Garden). If the puzzles were better designed (and
didn’t contain errors), I think players could easily escape this room in half
the allowed time. A lack of interesting,
different puzzles is yet another failing of this room.
10.Another aspect of their automated
clue system that I really dislike is that after escaping from the room, you
then need to run outside and scan another QR code on the wall to “stop the
clock”. This is poorly thought
through. There is one QR exit code for
all of the rooms at Exitus Macquarie. So
what happens when 2 or more rooms get out at the same time – I can see this not
working well at all.
11.Some of you also won’t like the fact
that Exitus Macquarie will take your credit card on arrival. This is to cover your drinks/food purchases
but also to cover them for any damage you cause to the room. They will also make you lock up your phones
for the duration of the escape (this always annoys me given we typically have
our kid with a babysitter, who can’t contact us in the case of an emergency).
12.Consistent with Escapism, they also
book you in for a certain time and then make you wait 30 minutes (or
thereabouts) before going into the room.
This is a not-so-subtle attempt at getting you to buy drinks/food from
the bar/waiting area.
13.Their prices are too steep for the
quality of this room. Their prices are a
flat rate for the room, which is $100 Mon-Thurs or $150 Fri-Sun. For a standard group of 4 people, this puts
their weekend rate at about the most expensive in Sydney at $37.50 per head,
and couples at an amazing $75 per head.
The room does not justify anywhere near this price tag.
14.I have also made this comment with
Escapism – I think they are cheap to only offer 50 minutes to escape. This is again aimed at making money and not
at providing a great experience for customers.
15.I personally do not think that Exitus
Macquarie will be a successful enterprise.
They are a cheap outfit that doesn’t value immersive, customer-centred
experiences, but instead have gone for cheap, poorly designed rooms as an “add
on” to their main game of drinks sales, bowling and karaoke. I think their King
Street Wharf partner Escapism will be more successful because they have the
benefit of the tourist trade and busy Saturday nights. Macquarie Centre, in contrast, is pretty dead
of an evening. In order for escape room
outfits to survive out of the CBD and major tourist hubs, they need to rely on
excellent word of mouth. I just don’t
see that happening here.
16.And now, this brings us to by far my
largest annoyance with my experience at Moonshot (and which has necessarily
coloured my overall experience and my views on the rest of the room, which I
accept are pretty harsh). We had the
worst gamemaster we have had in 35 rooms to date by a large margin (and this
includes several rooms which had no gamemaster at all). Any other gamemasters out there, read the below
exchange of words between ourselves and the gamemaster and consider it a lesson
in how not to speak to customers:
Strike employee: “So what
did you guys think of the room?”
Me: “To be honest, I didn’t
like it. Can you explain the last puzzle
Strike employee: “No,
unfortunately because you didn’t escape I can’t tell you about it”
Me (and the rest of my team in unison): “Um, we did escape – you just met us outside
(we opened the door, not you?)”
Strike employee: “Hold on,
you all need to take a breath, it’s just a game” (she says with an unbelievably
condescending smile on her face)
* My team and I then just stare at her blankly – none of us quite
believing what was coming out of her mouth
And finally, in a yet another
poorly-considered move, the Strike employee looks at me in particular and says “sir, you’re
still not breathing” (with that condescending smile still very much present)
By this time I had steam coming
out of my ears – I don’t like being spoken to like a piece of shit by anyone,
let alone by a gamemaster at an escape room where my team has gone to have
fun. I had to bite my tongue so hard not
to tell this gamemaster where to go. She
has no place working in customer service (or needs a heck of a lot of training
before she should be put in front of customers). I mean seriously?
Thankfully, 2 other gamemasters/employees spoke with us and
seemed to genuinely take our feedback on board.
Simply put, this is a very weak room, with clunky puzzles
(some of which contain manifest errors) and there is no story to be seen.
I first read the blurb on this room and thought it sounded
fantastic – I was genuinely excited to see what they could do with such a cool
subject matter. I was beyond disappointed
with the reality of the room.
for the life of me understand why Strike Bowling would want to buy the rights
to this room. Their own rooms at
Escapism are far superior in quality, theme and puzzles.
the major determining factor in how I judge rooms is the fun factor. We simply didn’t have fun. And if we had have had some fun, the
gamemaster stripped that away in mere seconds.
Where: Macquarie Centre
(Herring Road and Waterloo Road, North Ryde) Duration: 50 minutes Themes:
3 themes Cost: $100 (flat room rate Mon-Thurs and $150
Fri-Sun) Overall Summary: Hugely disappointing with a
We have a
new escape room outfit in town. A
little over 12 months ago, Strike Bowling opened up Escapism at King Street
Since that time, Strike Bowling
has bought out Exitus Escape Rooms, which were based in Melbourne. Based solely on TripAdvisor reviews, it seems
that Exitus had a lot of mixed reviews, due largely to poor service.
Hopefully this will improve with
Strike Bowling taking over the wheel. The
new venue, called Exitus Macquarie, will open on February 29 at Strike Bowling
at Macquarie Centre.
There will be 3 rooms at Exitus
·Forensic (which is already available in Sydney at King Street
You can read my review of
Forensic here – it was definitely one of the hardest rooms my group has tried.
The summaries of Jailbreak and
Moonshot are below:
I really like the sound of
Moonshot (which sounds like what used be called "Apollo Mission" at Exitus in Melbourne).
I’m really looking forward to
checking out Sydney’s latest rooms.
Hi all I stumbled across a new Kickstarter campaign today. It's an escape room in a box. The idea is that you purchase the box and then host your own escape room at home! They have managed to fit 19 puzzles into this small box, which equates to one hour of fun at home. The theme is a werewolf experiment, where upon opening the box you release a toxin which will turn you all into werewolves unless, you guessed it, you manage to unlock the antidote! It's similar to Breakout EDU in that there is an escape room in a box that you can play anywhere. The difference with this one is that the game and puzzles have been designed by escape room experts. The reviews all sound good (see the bottom of the Kickstarter campaign page). The price equates to about $100AUD, including shipping. The game can be replayed over and over (by different teams), so if you purchase the game with a group, you can get it at a very reasonable price. If the Kickstarter is successful, there is a good chance that they will release further themes in the future. Unfortunately, they are estimating that it will take 12 months to ship out the escape rooms in a box. This is a long time to have to wait, but in my experience with Kickstarter, it's probably about average. You can check out the Kickstarter campaign here. Thanks Scott