I have made this blog to provide my opinion on various escape rooms that have opened up in Australia. I have been to all escape room outfits currently open in Sydney and a total of 105 different rooms so far in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns), as well as others internationally. My aim is to help you to spend your hard-earned money on awesome rooms, not crappy ones...
Sunday, 15 October 2017
Matt's home made escape room - Review
Around Christmas time in 2015, I designed my own escape room
for my wife and friends. I spent months
coming up with puzzles and the room flow, which was really challenging (and
gave me a better idea of the amount of work that goes into designing rooms). It also gave me an even greater respect for
those room owners who design their own rooms from scratch!
The day of my escape was a bit of a shemozzle – I used my
half-built house for the escape and half way through the escape, a bunch of
painters walked in and asked us to leave.
You can read the summary of my experience here.
Skip forward to July 2017 and my friend Matt, a member of my
usual escape room team, put the final touches on an escape room that he had
spent 18 months designing for us. Matt’s
escape was a music-themed room. It was
full of a heap of puzzles, all bespoke to our particular team.
This particular escape room was our 45th escape room in
Sydney, and our 58th escape room in Australia.
It was uber special in that it was a one night only escape
room, built and designed just for us.
I’m not going to review this room in the traditional way –
to do so would serve little point given that you all can’t check it out
yourselves (sorry about that). What I am
going to do though is provide a bit of a summary of the room, discuss some of
the puzzles and show you some photos of the big day. I’m doing this in the hope that some of you
might become enthusiastic about creating your own escape room for friends/family. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun!
So we arrived at Matt’s house. We parked our eldest daughter in front of
Netflix and put the youngest down for a sleep.
We were set.
We then walked up to the venue for the escape room, being
Matt’s lounge room. There, on the couch,
sat the famous Max von Riff. As you are
all no doubt aware (assuming that you haven’t been sitting under a rock for the
last 2 decades), Max is an uber famous rock star. Needless to say, we were a little star struck
upon getting to meet him and seeing that hair and those tat sleeves in real
Max reminded us that the reason for us being there that day
was to audition to work with him on future music projects. To test our skills, he had cunningly set up a
number of challenges for us to work through.
So we got to work….
One of the props that Max, er Matt, had made for the escape
room was a Max von Riff calendar, showing Max with the many famous artists that
he has worked with over the years. I
have included a couple of photos below (without permission from the
As you can see, Max von Riff has changed his look over the
years. The more recent photo of him with
Taylor Swift is my fave. After
about 10 minutes of examining (ie laughing) at the photos, we started on the
There was a really cool mix of puzzles. One involved about a dozen drum sticks that
had been cut down to different lengths.
Matt had drilled holes of varying depths into a wooden block and we had
to put the numbered drum sticks in order of tallest to shortest and then use
the numbers in that order to solve the puzzle.That puzzle clearly took a heap of work to put together.
Another cool puzzle was a guitar that Matt had removed the
back from and had then placed a ping pong ball inside which contained a hidden note. The challenge was to navigate the ping pong
ball through a straw minefield…
One of my favourite puzzles was sitting down with Max and watching
the famous film clip for the Foo Fighters’ Learn to Fly (which apparently Max
was heavily involved in). We soon
realised that the puzzle was to pick how many characters were played by each of
the band members. Here’s a still of the
film clip for those of you who aren’t cool enough to know this gem of a film
One other cool puzzle was the use of a TSA key card lock,
which I had never seen before. It’s
effectively a lock that is opened by placing a small card (about the size of a
credit card) into the lock. The card has
a special set of holes cut into it, which releases the lock mechanism. We managed to find Max’s wallet in the couch
and after examining its contents, we found a card that had the correct tiny
hole pattern to open up the lock. This
was a really cool lock mechanism and one that I have not seen before or since
in any escape rooms in Australia. See
below a photo of the lock and Star Casino card we used on the day to open the
lock. (As a nice touch and hint, we
received a sultry text message on Max’s phone during the escape from an admirer
of his asking us to meet her at Star City after his next gig – this pointed us
to the Star City card). You can see more
about this kind of lock here and in the photo below:
Matt is an electrical engineer, so we also had a cool puzzle
that used some tech. We had to work out
the answer to a puzzle that utilised information through the Max von Riff
calendar. We then used cables on the
outside of a box that Matt had created which opened when the correct circuit
had been connected. Here’s a photo:
Another really cool puzzle that Max had designed for us was
to check out our audio mixing skills. We
opened up his computer to find a heap of different drum tracks, bass tracks, lead
guitar tracks and vocal tracks. Among
the many tracks (maybe 2 dozen or more), there was one particular drum, guitar,
bass and vocal track that all went together as a song. That was a challenging but fun puzzle.
There were a heap of puzzles for us to get through. I think it took us over 2.5 hours to work our
way through them all, but it was a heap of fun.
Kudos to Matt on putting together an awesome escape
room. The highlight for me was easily
the Max von Riff calendar. The was made
even funnier by the fact that when Matt had the calendar printed at Big W, Big
W lost the first printing and then had to reprint it. So I like to imagine the first printing sits on a wall in a
Big W staff room somewhere…
Duration: 2.5 hours plus
We played at the kind invitation of Matt
Overall Rating: Awesome, fun and challenging room with a