Saturday, 4 August 2018
Kingp!n Bowling/Cryptology - Review of Sweet Secrets
A couple of months back, I was scanning online looking for any new escape rooms that were coming to Sydney (which is something I do pretty often). Much to my surprise, I learned that Kingpin Bowling had already opened up 2 rooms in North Strathfield. I am usually across most new rooms in Sydney, which was why I was so surprised that 2 had opened up without me knowing. I asked around on an escape room enthusiasts group on Facebook whether anyone else had heard about Kingpin opening rooms in Sydney and it seemed like nobody else had heard either.
So I contacted Kingpin to let them know that word hadn’t travelled about their rooms to the enthusiasts community and I offered to come in to review their rooms (to help get the word out). They accepted and we went in in early July to check out their 2 rooms, Sweet Secrets and Hunters Cabin.
We managed to get street parking only a few hundred metres from Kingpin (no doubt because we went mid-week), but there is also a paid multi-storey car park nearby. I wasn’t able to easily get a babysitter, so my wife sat these rooms out and it was our “lite” team version of just the 3 of us.
Kingpin’s rooms are a partnership by Kingpin and a company called Cryptology. Here is the summary of Sweet Secrets from their website:
IT'S TOO SWEET...
High in the Swiss mountains, you've made your way into the factory known to make the best chocolate in the world. Are your senses acute enough to switch on the machine and steal its secret recipe? Available at Kingpin North Strathfield. Cryptofactor: 8/10 (trickily difficult)
Sweet Secrets was our 99th room in Australia and our 69th room in Sydney.
Here are my thoughts on Sweet Secrets:
a) I was really pleased with the production value of the props and theming in the room. This room did not look like a typical commercial office space with some op shop items thrown in – the props were of a really high quality, the lighting was well considered, and the theming generally was great
b) the room theme is pretty novel, which is always nice. I can’t remember before doing an escape room where I had to steal a secret chocolate recipe!
c) Kingpin’s clue system is one of the better automated clue systems I have used. There is a tablet in the room that players use to get clues. I am always doubtful of these automated systems because I have used similar systems in the past and the automated clues have often related to aspects of the puzzle we had already solved (which can be very frustrating). Also, a downside to these kind of systems is that they typically require a very linear room design (which is not my preferred room style). That being said, the clever aspect of Kingpin’s system is that each puzzle has a sensor that can tell which aspect of the puzzle has been solved already, which greatly increases the accuracy of the clues given;
d) I am happy to report that we had a dedicated game master for our room. When we needed to get in contact with the game master at one point, they responded immediately;
e) this room would suit newer players who like high tech lock mechanisms rather than more traditional padlocks. I do not recall there being any padlocks in this room;
f) there were a couple of puzzles that were a little inelegant – one had a few possible combinations but we had to work through each of the possible combinations because it wasn’t clear which combination was correct. We also had an issue at one point with a magnetic lock not releasing an item (even though we had tried the correct solution a number of times). Both are minor criticisms.
By memory, we escaped in about half the permitted time. As a result, I would describe Sweet Secrets as an easier room more suited to newer players. I think the room would benefit from an additional 2 or 3 puzzles (to make it more suitable to experienced players). The room is also very children and family friendly, which is a plus.
That being said, it is a strong room for newer players, given the quality of the props and theming.
I had doubts going to Kingpin, given my poor experiences in the past at their main competitor, Strike Bowling. But I am pleased to say that whilst we had awful customer service at Strike Bowling, we had great customer service at Kingpin Bowling. The staff members were really enthusiastic and accommodating.
As always, the biggest test of a good escape room for me is whether or not we had fun. Sweet Secrets was a fun room.
Where: 3-5 George Street, North Strathfield
Duration: 60 minutes
Themes: 2 themes
Cost: $100/$150 per room (depending on time of week)
Overall Summary: Great props and theming, but best suited to newer players
More details: https://www.kingpinbowling.com.au/