Monday, 17 December 2018

Black Prince Productions - The Art of Murder Review

Hi all

I was contacted by Alex, a film writer and director in October who invited my team to come along and try out a new escape room adventure that he had written. 

His room, called The Art of Murder, is located in a quiet street in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west.  Unlike most escape rooms where the objective is to escape a room (or rescue a person/item, break into a room, defuse a bomb, etc), The Art of Murder requires players to solve various puzzles to help gather evidence in a murder investigation.  Here is the summary of the experience from their website:

An immersive escape room / alternate reality theatre game.
A wealthy old lady has been murdered, her young lover stands accused.
Your small group of investigators enter her magnificent home to build a case.
Lift fingerprints, find clues, pick locks, solve puzzles and locate the bloody murder weapon.
Be warned though, the suspect has a plane ticket to the Carribean in an hour.
You’re on the clock to gather enough evidence before he slips your grasp forever!

The Art of Murder was my 102nd room in Australia and my 72nd room in Sydney. 

Here are my thoughts on The Art of Murder:

·        when we arrived, we were greeted by the owner Alex and the experience started immediately.  We were new police recruits that had been called on to investigate and solve a murder.  The Art of Murder is one of very few escape rooms in Sydney where the game master is in the escape room with you.  This is relatively uncommon in Australia, with only a handful of rooms in Melbourne and Sydney using live actors as game masters.  There are some real benefits and some potential pitfalls to this, but more on that later;
·        the building is awesome and the room in which the experience takes place is uber cool.  It is a former art gallery and there is a really eclectic collection of art on every surface – this is the first escape room that I am aware of in Australian that is effectively inside an art gallery;
·        The Art of Murder is one of those rooms where a lot of consideration has been given to the back story (perhaps unsurprisingly given that Alex is a writer).  This really adds to the immersion level of the room (as does the room setting and the artwork);
·        there is a nice mix of hunt and seek fun as well as a mix of interesting puzzles to solve.  Over all, we finished the experience in about half the allotted time, so I would describe it as being a room best suited to beginners/intermediate players (although my experienced team certainly had a lot of fun).  Although the room is about a murder, it is not overly dark and I think it would be suited to younger players (with supervision);
·        there are some interesting elements to various puzzles.  Alex has clearly tried to incorporate some more authentic police investigation techniques into the puzzle and room design, again really adding a layer of depth to the immersion level.  Also, some of the puzzles were unique and of a type we had not seen in over 100 rooms before, which is always really nice;
·        as outlined above, the clue delivery system in The Art of Murder is by way of the game master being in the room alongside players.  Alex plays the role of a helpful police assistant, providing guidance to our team of new recruits.  If you have read my reviews of other rooms where game masters are inside the experience with players, you will see that whilst these can be some of the most enjoyable and immersive experiences, they do lend themselves to a simple problem – the removal of the barrier between players and the game master can sometimes result in it becoming too easy for the game master to provide guidance and hints.  In a more typical setting, it is not quite so easy for hints to be provided – game masters are physically removed from the space and normally a system of providing hints is put in place (where typically, players have to ask for hints).  This is not the case in an experience where the game master is standing beside you.  Respectfully, we found that at times, Alex was a little too quick to provide guidance (which in some instances, took away from our feeling of accomplishment in solving a couple of the puzzles).  This was partly our fault as I should have made it clear beforehand that given we are an experienced team, we prefer to try pretty hard to solve puzzles before asking for help.  I can appreciate that it is hard as a game master to know the solutions and to have to bite your tongue while watching players, but it makes such a big difference to the overall experience.  I think this is something that can easily be improved, perhaps by asking players ahead of time how much guidance they would like.  I have provided this feedback to Alex.

Overall, my team enjoyed REALLY our experience at The Art of Murder.  I would describe this room as a very immersive and cleverly written experience that is suited to players of all levels and is family friendly.    

As always, the main test of a room is whether my team had fun and we certainly did have fun.  Subject to some tweaks to the hint delivery (which is something that could be very easily improved), this is a great, truly immersive room in a fantastic space. 

Some players love high tech locks and automation (above all else) in escape room experiences.  Others, like my team, would prefer a low tech room with high immersion and a strong backstory.  This is definitely our kind of experience.

Where:                                    111 Chapel Street, Marrickville

Duration:                                60 minutes

Themes:                                 1 theme

Cost:                                       $40pp (although we played at the invitation of the owner)

Overall Summary:                  A fun murder mystery in an awesome space

More details:                

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