Sunday, 11 September 2016

CT Adventure Escape Room - Gotcha Review

Hi everyone!

Yesterday my team and I tried out CT Adventure’s second room, Gotcha.  For other Pokemon Go fanatics, it is a room inspired by all things Pokemon related! 

My team first went to CT Adventures just after they opened back in April when we escaped from their MU-T room.  We all really enjoyed the MU-T room – it was definitely one of the most fun rooms we have ever done.  You can read my review of MU-T here.

My team this time was the usual team of 4 adults, together with my 4 year old daughter.  This was our 31st room in Sydney and our 43rd room in Australia.

The Gotcha room originally opened as Forest Force back in April.  However, the owners have re-themed the whole thing (and have included a number of extra puzzles to make it a little tougher)…

As always, I’ll start off with what I liked about the room:
  • the location is really convenient – it is on Market Street (the entrance is between DJs and Rip Curl).  You need to hit the button on the intercom and they will then program the lift to let you get out on their floor.  We parked in the same building (there is a Secure Parking on Castlereagh that is $8 on weekends and evenings if you go to The Palace, which is a pretty good yum cha in Piccadilly);
  • I think the theme choice is very clever and very well-timed, given the incredible popularity of Pokemon Go at the moment with children and adults alike.  I spent the morning before our escape walking around Circular Quay and it was amazing how many people were catching Pokemon, with their mobiles in hand and tell-tale charging cables;
  • my daughter has recently discovered the fun of Pokemon Go (she loves nothing more than to deplete my stash of ultra balls and raspberries!).  The reason I raise this is because this is the first time that she has been genuinely engaged by the room – most of the time the room themes are suited to adults (or at least kids of 12 or older).  This time however she was actively involved for about 90% of the escape – she helped with several hands-on puzzles and she had a ball.  This is the only room I can think of in Sydney that has been designed so that young kids can take on an active role.  Whilst other rooms are “kid friendly”, that really just means that it is not a horror theme that would give kids nightmares;
  • the theming of this room is reasonably well done – they don’t use the terms Pokemon Go or Pikachu, etc so hopefully they won’t get into any trouble for the room theme!
  • as was the case with their MU-T room, there is really good mix of low tech and high tech puzzles.  The low tech puzzles really allow kids to get involved and the high tech puzzles are really well done.  The mechanics of all of the high tech puzzles are well hidden, as they should be.  We also saw some puzzles in this room that we had never seen before, which were really fun.  This room gives Mission Sydney a run for its money on the high tech front;
  • one thing I noticed was that there was not too much hunt and seek fun in this room, as compared with MU-T.  Most of the items you need to find are in plain sight, so you do not need to get on your hands and knees and scavenge around looking for any obscure items in this room;
  • despite being a kid-friendly room, we still found it reasonably challenging.  We escaped with just over 10 minutes left on the clock (and we didn’t need any hints), which I think gave us the room record.  Normally we rush through rooms like crazy, but this time we slowed down a little (in part due to my daughter who wanted to be more involved in the adventure!).  I can therefore see this record being beaten by a long way (I think around 35 minutes would definitely be possible).

As for things that could be improved, there is not much to report here:

  • the room is reasonably tricky.  It took us 50 minutes to escape and I understand from Fiona at CT Adventures that most teams have not escaped Gotcha within the allowed 60 minutes.  Given this is their family and children-friendly room, they might consider making the puzzles a little easier.  I think they are going to monitor this and see how things go.  They could always consider giving more clues to newer players (or teams with young children);
  • although it is effective, I did not love the hint system that they now have in their room.  Different escape room outfits use different hint systems.  The best ones are where the game master is watching your every move and if clues are required, they are provided in a subtle way that does not detract from the immersion of the room experience.  CT Adventures uses a mobile phone (which they provide) and you can send a text for a clue.  They have a 3 digit code written on each of the puzzles, so you need only text the 3 digit code and they will provide you with a clue for that specific puzzle.  You are only entitled to 3 hints during the game.  The game masters are watching your every move at CT Adventures, which is great.  However, I don’t love the 3 digit code hint system.  I think this detracts from the immersion (as the 3 digit codes are all over the room).  I prefer a simple conversation over a phone or speakers, but that is just my taste; and
  • whilst we played at the kind invitation of the owners, I think their standard pricing is on the high side ($190 for 4 adults).  Whilst their rooms are both great rooms, the average rack rate at Sydney escape rooms is around $140 at the moment.

This was a great room.  I know they are going to do well because I get several enquiries each week asking for room recommendations for young children.  I can honestly say that this room has been designed so that kids can actively participate and with a bit of help from adults, they just might get out in time too.

We're heading back to CT Adventures shortly to play test their third room, which is a scary room with a Witch theme.  This will apparently be their most difficult room, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can do with such a different theme to their 2 current rooms.

Where:                        Level 7, 61 Market Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (look for a glass door between Rip Curl and DJs on the south side of Market Street)

Duration:                    60 minutes

Themes:                     2 so far (but 1 other planned)

Cost:                           $190 for 4 adults (but we played at the kind invitation of the owners)

Overall Summary:      Easily the best family and child-friendly room in Sydney

More details:    

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Canberra's newest escape rooms - Escape Rooms Canberra now open

Hi all

I’ve been in contact with Michael and Mitch from Escape Rooms Canberra.   Yesterday was the grand opening of their business in Phillip ACT .

They are a standalone business, but have an affiliation with Owen Spears at Escape Room Melbourne, Australia’s first escape room outfit.  They have opened up 2 rooms so far, the summaries of which are below:

1.   Mr. Keller’s Magic Emporium, a place where fun never dies. 

You’ve applied for jobs all over town but nowhere is hiring… you. You've even tried the quaint toyshop downtown, run by the enigmatic ‘Mr. Keller’. A few days later you receive a letter in the post; it’s Keller inviting you back for a job interview, of sorts. He’s left you a series of tasks and puzzles; if you can complete them in 60-minutes or less then the job is all yours. If not, well that's your own bad luck. 

2.   House on the Hill – Salem, MA

Sound familiar? 

There's been talk of witchcraft ever since a mysterious illness struck the town of Salem. Hysteria is setting in and fingers are itching to be pointed. Margret Coulter-Rose has been seldom seen since the death of her husband and daughter It's said that an evil presence pervades the House on the Hill. It's said that the devil has crept in. The town elders have sent you into the house to find enough evidence of witchcraft to bring Margret to trial. 

Be warned though; Margret doesn't take too kindly to visitors anymore, and the old house, with it's creaks and groans, is said to be even less accommodating.

The Keller’s room is based on the room of the same name at Escape Room Melbourne, but with a few changes designed by Mitch and Michael.  The House on the Hill is their own design.

I’m hoping to get down to Canberra over the Christmas/summer break to check out their new rooms.  

For further  information, check out their website here.