Monday, 6 March 2017

Mission Sydney - Review of Lost Mine

Hi all

The second room that my team ever did in Australia was Vampire Castle at Mission Sydney, which we tried back in November 2014.  I enjoyed Vampire Castle, which was my first experience of a high tech escape room.  I also really enjoyed Dr M at Mission Sydney, which we did a little while later.

Now some 50 escape rooms later, my team went back to try one of Mission Sydney’s newest rooms, The Lost Mine.  This was a gift that I received from my wife for my birthday – she knew I really enjoyed their Dr M room when we had tried it about a year before.

We went into Lost Mine with high expectations, based on our previous experiences there.  I remember really enjoying Vampire Castle too, but 2 years later, I think I now have a greater appreciation for things like immersion and theming.  Looking back, Vampire Castle’s theming was better than average but some aspects don’t make a great deal of sense (like lasers or swipe cards) given the vampire theme.  It was still a great deal of fun though.

We were our usual 4 team of players again.  It was our 51st room in Australia and our 39th room in Sydney.  Here’s what we liked most about Lost Mine:

·        the puzzles all worked well and we didn’t have any technical issues or hiccups of any kind; 
·        the puzzles are also pretty challenging – there was a lot of variety of puzzle types in the room, which was cool; 
·        there was one puzzle in particular which had us stumped for about 5 minutes.  When we got a clue, the solution was obvious – I love a good forehead slapping moment; 
·        some of the spaces are really well-themed – clearly a lot of thinking has gone into the puzzle and room design;
·        there were some “wow factor” moments – some of the puzzles and different areas were unlike anything we had seen before, which was really cool;
·        if you’re a fan of high tech puzzles, then Mission Sydney’s rooms are for you.  There were heaps of high tech puzzles in Lost Mine – more I think than any other room we have tried before; and

·        we had a really lovely game master who answered all of our questions and spent some time with us after the escape to explain the back story further, which was a nice touch.

Ok, now for what I didn’t like so much:

·        whilst some of the high tech puzzles are cool, many of them just don’t fit the theme.  Some of the high tech is well concealed, so as to have the appearance of being "magic", which is great.  But laser puzzles in a lost mine didn’t really fit the theme for me;

·        this is the lawyer in me, but even though some of the mechanisms in the rooms are really cool, there are some aspects where I can see people hurting themselves.  Overall the room is reasonably safe, but for small kids or a drunk buck’s night, there are definitely aspects where players could hurt themselves;

·        there’s one puzzle that requires players to weigh items – I can’t really go into much detail on this one without giving spoilers, but needless to say we really didn’t like this particular puzzle – the solution was annoying;

·        my absolute favourite puzzles that I look back on now over the past 50+ rooms have typically been the low-tech, brilliantly-designed puzzles where everyday items that you would expect to see in the room are re-purposed as part of a puzzle.  Some of the high tech puzzles I have done are certainly memorable, but the low tech puzzles are the ones that stick with me years later.  Sometimes I feel that Mission Sydney do high tech for the sake of high tech – a bit more of a mix of simple hunt and seek fun and some low-tech puzzles would really add to the experience I think;

·        the back story is a little too complicated.  We had a lovely game master, but it took some time for us to understand the back story fully after the escape when she explained it to us.  I think the storyline is unnecessarily complicated; and

·        the room was expensive.  It cost us $210 for our team of 4, which equates to $52.50 per head.  In my humble opinion, this is too expensive.  I appreciate that it is a 90 minute room with lots of high tech, but when the average price for rooms in Sydney is closer to $35 per head, you really need to be an amazing room to justify the price difference.  Whilst Lost Mine is a really fun high tech room, I think the pricing is more suited to about the $45 per head mark.  Others will (and have) disagreed on this, but that’s my honest opinion.

Mission Sydney effectively owns the “high tech escape room” market in Sydney, as they have for some time.  It has proven a very popular market too, given that they are voted number 1 on TripAdvisor.  There are no traditional locks in Mission Sydney at all, which is their point of difference.

If you are the type of player who likes wow factors and high tech puzzles, then you should definitely head to Mission Sydney and check out their rooms.  For mine, I really enjoyed Lost Mine, but personally I have come to prefer a more rounded experience with a nice mix of high and low tech and some truly immersive, intricately themed spaces.  I don’t think Mission quite hit the mark on that front for me, but Lost Mine is still a great room.  

As always, the true test of a great room for me is whether or not we had fun.  We absolutely had fun in this room, so it was a success on that front.

Where:                   Suite 301-303 Pitt Street, Sydney

Duration:               90 minutes

4 themes

$52.50 each (4 players)

Overall Rating:      The highest tech room we have tried – great fun but could be more thematic

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