Friday, 23 January 2015

Sydney's newest escape room Paniq Room opens 30 January

The owners of Paniq Room Sydney have confirmed that their official grand opening will be on 30 January 2015.

Check out their website for pricing and booking details here.

Based on the photo below from their Facebook page, they seem to have a special 20% discount until February 13th:

I hope to check out one of their rooms in the next few weeks.  Would love to receive your feedback if you check out Paniq Room Sydney before I do!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Review of Mission Escape - Dr. M theme

My group (of 4 adults) checked out Mission Escape Sydney back in September, not too long after they had opened and we did their Vampire Castle theme.  We then returned in January 2015 to do their longer Dr. M theme.  It was our eighth escape room in Sydney and it was one that I had been looking forward to for months.  It did not disappoint (and I think it is the best escape room in Sydney)!

Firstly, they can be a little tricky to find (although we had no problems).  You enter through glass doors on Pitt Street into a small foyer area between a hairdresser and a Vodafone store.  You then take the lifts up to level 3.

The atmosphere there is cool.  When you arrive, you sit down in a small waiting area where you are given instructions and a few puzzles to solve to get you warmed up for the main event.  

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about Mission Escape Sydney's Dr. M theme:
  • the atmosphere was really cool.  They only had 3 staff members when we were there (unlike other outfits like Escape Hunt Sydney which have 8 staff members), but this seemed to be perfect (mainly because the staff were attentive, particularly while we were in the room and asked for a hint).  We had a lot of fun.  We were blindfolded and had to walk from the waiting room into the hunt room - which was both silly and fun (and a really nice way to start the room);
  • having already done their Vampire Castle room, I knew that the quality of the puzzles was going to be very high tech.  They did not disappoint.  The puzzles were all perfectly designed and perfectly executed - they all worked without any delay and all completely matched the theme.  All of the puzzles and mechanisms were bespoke and home-made, which I absolutely love;
  • you are allowed 80 minutes to escape the Dr. M room.  As far as I am aware, this is the longest escape room in Sydney.  We had a heap of fun and managed to escape with about 19 minutes left on the clock.  We then spent another 5 minutes walking back through Dr.M again, mesmerised by the quality (and quantity) of puzzles that we had managed to solve; and
  • the theme was incredibly well done.  I can't overstate this enough.  It was eerie, at times scary and the high tech puzzles made the over all theming 100% perfect.  

Now, for what could have been improved:  honestly, nothing.

I accept that they are expensive at $45 per person, but the escape is 80 minutes long, which is 20 minutes (or one third) longer than most rooms and 30 minutes (or more than one half) longer than some rooms in Sydney.  The money is worth it.  Dr.M is honestly the best escape room in all of Sydney (of those that I have tried so far as at January 2015).

I wouldn't recommend this room to first timers - it's difficult and I think much better suited to experienced players.  I would suggest trying other easier places first before trying to tackle either Vampire Castle or Dr. M. 

Where:                   Suite 301-303 Pitt Street, Sydney

Duration:               80 mins

Themes:                 Currently 2 (Dr. M and Vampire Castle)

Cost:                      $45 each (4 players)

Overall rating:      5 out of 5 stars

More details:

Review of The Mystery Puzzle - The Pirate Adventure

My group of friends (4 adults) checked out The Mystery Puzzle's 'The Pirate Adventure' room in January 2015. This was our seventh escape room in Sydney over all.

The building is easy to find but there is no access without a security pass.  So I had to call a mobile number and they then came down and took us up to their reception room.  We were then given a briefing and we took some photos wearing some lovely pirate outfits.

They currently have two rooms, The Pirate Adventure and The Casino Revenge Thriller.  I understand that they have 2 identical Pirate Adventure rooms (which cater for larger corporate groups), although I'm not sure if they have more than one Casino Revenge Thriller room.

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about The Pirate Adventure at The Mystery Puzzle:
  • it was fun!  The dress ups before the escape was fun and the guys running this place seemed to really enjoy what they are doing;
  • they describe themselves on their website as "Sydney's Biggest Real Life Escape Room".  I'm not sure if this is quite correct, but The Pirate Adventure is big (plenty big enough to accommodate groups of 6 or more people);
  • the theming was pretty good -  the props were good and generally suited the theming; and
  • the puzzles all worked well, which is always nice.

As for some of the negatives with The Pirate Adventure at The Mystery Puzzle, whilst we had fun, my honest feedback is that:

  • the room is too easy over all.  We escaped with 22 minutes left on the clock and we were told that this was the average escape time for all players.  We also got stuck on not finding some items (which was completely our fault!).  But if we had found those items straight away, we would have escaped in around 25 to 30 minutes in total. This is too short and there should definitely be at least another 3 or 4 puzzles (so that everyone gets full value for the money they have paid).  The record for this room is 20 minutes, which also confirms that the room is not challenging enough (at least in my opinion);
  • whilst there is plenty of space in The Pirate Adventure, there are not enough puzzles and things to do to fill the space.  They could easily fit the current puzzles and props in space about one-third of the size currently used;
  • there were too many books!  Without giving anything away, there were probably 80+ books used as props, with very few being relevant to the game.  I actually got frustrated/annoyed by the number of books that we had to thumb through (several times each).  I like red herrings in an escape room, but 80+ books is just annoying (in my opinion), particularly when they were also irrelevant to the theme;
  • I have learned from my escape room experience that escape rooms usually require a combination of "hunt and seek" fun with an element of puzzle solving.  The hunt and seek part (which I love) involves you running around crazily in a room to find items that you need to solve puzzles or open locks, etc.  I found that with The Pirate Adventure, there was too much "hunt and seek" and not enough puzzles.  I think this could be easily rectified by adding a few more detailed puzzles which require some time to think through and solve.  The few puzzles in the room were easy and very quick to solve - most of our time was spent hunting for things (and thumbing through books!); 
  • there wasn't a clear way to communicate with those running The Pirate Adventure while we were in the room.  Most outfits use walkie talkies or iPads.  This room relied on us waving at the camera and then the owners trying to guess what we needed help with and giving hints via the television screen in the room - this could be easily improved; and
  • with such a wonderful theme as pirates (which is one my all time favourite themes), I think they could have done so much more (I had dreams of One Eyed Willie from Goonies and booby traps, etc).  Perhaps I was being unrealistic...

All 4 people in our group enjoyed ourselves in The Pirate Adventure.   We have already bought scoopons for their second room, so we will be back there to check out The Casino Revenge Thriller in February (which I understand is a little harder than The Pirate Adventure).

Where:                    Level 1, 37 Bligh Street, Sydney

Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 2 themes 

Cost:                       $36 each (4 players) (But watch out for coupons - we got 50% off )

Overall Rating:      3.5 out of 5 stars

More details: 

Review of ClockLocked Sydney - Dexter theme

My group of friends (4 adults) checked out ClockLocked's Dexter room in January 2015. This was our second time to ClockLocked, after having previously tried their Da Vinci room (and it was our sixth escape room in Sydney over all so far).

The atmosphere there is great.  You sit in a waiting room with a few puzzles around you and you are given a briefing by the lovely Dory.  We spent much of our time in the waiting room looking for our photo on the wall from our last adventure at ClockLocked.

They currently have two rooms, Da Vinci and Dexter.  They have a third room, 'Cleopatra' which will open at the end of January 2015.  We were able to sneak our heads inside the Cleopatra room and it looks awesome!

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about Dexter at ClockLocked:
  • the quality of the puzzles was great.  Some of them were really creative and were unlike any others we had seen before in any escape room outfit;
  • the puzzles were a good level of difficulty (not too hard and not too easy).  We managed to escape with 20 minutes left on the clock (I found Dexter easier than Da Vinci, but that being said we are now much more experienced with escape rooms than we were when we did Da Vinci);
  • as with Da Vinci, the theming was excellent.  The sounds/music, props, etc perfectly matched the theme;
  • the puzzles all worked without any issues this time (see my earlier review where I noted that we had some issues with one of the puzzles in Da Vinci).  I also liked that after we had given feedback in Da Vinci that it would be good if they warned us that their safes block you for 5 minutes if you enter a code incorrectly 3 times, they now have a little warning sign on their safes to this effect.  They have also put a sign in the window downstairs, which makes it easier to find them; and
  • Dory was lovely and clearly very passionate about ClockLocked!

As for the negatives with Dexter at ClockLocked, it was all very well done and the only comments that I have are that:

  • I think that there could have been another puzzle or two to extend the fun (we finished the room with 20 minutes remaining and based on Tripadvisor I understand that most groups escape Dexter in time).  That being said, I appreciate that it is hard to design a room to suit all groups; 
  • there is not much space in Dexter to move around without bumping into each other. We had a group of 4 people - I couldn't imagine doing this room with any more than 4 people; and
  • others in my group didn't agree with me, but there was one aspect of Dexter that I was a little disappointed with.  Unfortunately, in the interests of not spoiling Dexter for others, I can't say any more about this...

All 4 people in our group really enjoyed ourselves in the Dexter room.  We will certainly be back to try Cleopatra when it opens in a couple of weeks!

Where:                    Suite 101, Level 5, 330 Wattle Street, Ultimo 

Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 2 themes (although a third "Cleopatra room opens late January 2015)

Cost:                       $30 each (4 players) (But watch out for coupons - we got 50% off )

Overall Rating:      4 out of 5 stars

More details:

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Update - Discount vouchers and coupons for Escape Rooms in Sydney (January 2015)

This is the updated page listing all known vouchers and coupon, scoopon or groupon codes that provide discounts for escape rooms in Sydney.   If you are aware of any new codes (or if you own an escape room and want to publish a code here), please feel free to post a reply below with the code.  I'll try to update this list once each month. Thanks.

Discount Code
Mission Escape Sydney
None that I am aware of.
Escape Hunt Sydney
Student 15% discount Monday to Thursday only use code “STUDENT15”.

Special 15% discount Monday to Thursday for anyone until January 2015 use code “MID15”.
Room Escape
They are commonly on Groupon and Scoopon at around 50% off (see here for current Groupon offer).

You can also become a member on their site (it’s free, you just have to share/like them on Facebook) and you then get the members’ only prices.
The Mystery Puzzle
Special 30% discount (can be used any time) – use code “mystery30p” [Note this may have been an early bird offer only]

Also, they have been on Groupon and Scoopon before @ $15 per person (see offer here - click on "More Info" and you can sign up to receive an email when another offer is available).

They also happen to have a Scoopon right now for $15 per person (valid to 3 April 2015 - click here).
Clock Locked
They are often on Scoopon and Groupon at around 50% off @ $15 per person (see offer here - click on "More Info" and you can sign up to receive an email when another offer is available).

Watch out for deals for this one (and if I come across any new Scoopons/Groupon releases, I will post an update here).
No current codes that I am aware of.
No current codes that I am aware of.
Paniq Room
20% opening offer discount if you try their rooms before 13 February.  Check out their website for details shortly.
Enigma Room
No current codes that I am aware of yet but look out for opening   specials when they open (probably January/February)

Paniq Room Sydney - New escape room outfit opening soon in Sydney

Hey everyone

After a random Google search, I've learned that there is a new escape room operator that is going to be opening soon in Sydney.  They are called Paniq Room (Sydney).  They seem to be a chain with escape rooms all over the world (originally in Budapest).

Their rooms in Sydney will be at The Rocks.  Their website confirms that they will have 2 rooms initially: one is called "Abandoned Military Bunker" and the second is called "Supercell 117".

Supercell 117 sounds truly awesome - your whole group is locked in a smoke-filled prison cell, but you can't see each other (which makes me think that hopefully everyone will start in separate rooms).  What's also cool is that it seems you can decide whether to escape individually or as a team.  This one is definitely at the top of my list to check out...

Their website is here if you would like to have a look.  I've sent them an email to find out when they will be opening.  I will report back here once I have heard from them.

Also, I went to 3 more escape rooms this past weekend.  I will post separate reviews here later this week on each room.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review of Escapism Strike Bowling - Forensic theme

My group of friends (4 adults) checked out Escapism at Strike Bowling at King Street Wharf in January 2015, not long after they had opened.

When you arrive, you hand over your credit card as a deposit (in case of any damage to the room).  We sat in the Strike Bowling bar as we waited for our room to be ready.  There must have been some issues because we didn't start until about 15 to 20 mins after our allotted time.  We were blindfolded and were walked down to our room, where our 50 minute count down clock began with a slam of the door...  

This room was the fifth escape room that my group had done in Sydney.  I purposefully selected the Forensic room, as it is their hardest room (and I wanted a real challenge).  I certainly got what I asked for...

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about Escapism at Strike Bowling:
  • the theming was excellent - the props and room were very well detailed and suited the theme perfectly;
  • the quality of puzzles and challenges in the room was also excellent.  Although they were all pretty low-tech compared to other escape rooms in Sydney, what they lacked on the high-tech front they made up for in quality (everything worked flawlessly); and
  • we managed to escape this incredibly difficult room with time to spare (although to be honest it was the rest of my group who solved the harder puzzles, not me).

Now, for what I didn't like so much:

  • the escape rooms at Strike Bowling are only part of what the staff have to look after (they also look after the bar).  On one occasion when I tried calling through for a clue, the phone rang out 3 times before they finally answered (which wasted about 5 minutes).  I think given the price that you pay for rooms here (which is pretty steep at $150 per room on a weekend), they need at least one dedicated staff member (if not two) to look after the rooms. Every other escape room outfit has at least one dedicated staff member for all rooms (and the better ones have one dedicated staff member for each room);
  • while I really enjoyed the puzzles, there was very little in the way of "hunt and seek" fun.  Instead it was lock after lock (something like 6 locks at the very beginning of the game, which was a little overwhelming).  I would have preferred a better mix of hunting and seeking (together with the locks and puzzles).  That being said, others in my group really enjoyed the difficult puzzles, so each to their own;
  • the room is small (easily the smallest room of any escape we have tried).  I found that with 4 adults, we were constantly getting in each others' way.  The room needed to be at least 25 to 50% bigger in my opinion - I couldn't imagine playing this room with 6 people (which is the maximum permitted). You would not be able to move and too many people would inevitably feel left out.  I think the maximum number of people in this room should be limited to 4; and
  • this was by far the hardest room we have done so far.  This is not a criticism (they do advertise this as being their most difficult room and we were told that only 5% of people escape this particular room).  However, my criticism is that the escape only goes for 50 minutes, unlike the usual 60 minutes that is the norm with all other escape room outfits.  Even though we escaped with 6mins and 35secs left on the clock (ie it took us 43mins 25secs to escape), we honestly got a little lucky with some good guesses towards the end.  In my opinion, the time length of this room should be extended to 60 minutes.  I also think a 5% success rate is far too low and isn't something to be proud of - such a low success rate is only likely to turn people away from the fun of escape rooms, which is in nobody's interests (ie it's no fun to spend $150 only to be bamboozled the whole time).  If they added another 10 minutes to the length of the game, then I think the success rate would increase to a more reasonable number.

All 4 people in our group really enjoyed ourselves.  However, I would only recommend this escape room to experienced players - if this had been my first escape room, I definitely would have been very frustrated and may have been turned off escape rooms for good.  

Where:                    22 The Promenade, King Street Wharf, Sydney

Duration:                50 minutes

Themes:                 3 themes 

Cost:                       $100 per team (Mon to Thurs) or $150 per team (Fri to Sun)
                                [2 to 6 players]

Overall Rating:       4.0 out of 5 stars

More details: 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review of ParaPark Sydney - 9A Gateway theme

My group of friends (4 adults) checked out ParaPark Sydney in January 2015, not long after it had opened.  Parapark is a world-wide franchise and is known as the original escape hunt room operator (the original being based in Budapest).

The atmosphere there is very cool.  When you arrive, you sit down in a waiting room and are given instructions on the room, together with a torch, pencil, notepad and walkie talkie.     
Our group did the 9A Gateway theme.  They currently only have the one room but have plans to open additional rooms in the near future.  This room was the fourth escape room that my group had done in Sydney.  

First off, I'll say what I enjoyed most about ParaPark Sydney:

  • it was really well run - they utilised a combination of TV screens and walkie talkies for communicating while in the room.  This was really effective;
  • the theming was excellent - the music, sounds and props in the room were great (they were not too scary and I think they would be suitable for kids from say 9 or 10 years of age);
  • the quality and variety of puzzles and challenges in the room was also excellent - there was a great mixture of low and high tech puzzles and they used some elements that I have never seen used before by other escape room outfits.  The quality of the puzzles was also excellent - clearly many hours of work had been spent in designing and making the puzzles, which we appreciated; and
  • the owners of ParaPark Sydney were really enthusiastic about their business and they were really receptive to our feedback.

There was very little that we didn't enjoy about ParaPark Sydney!  We managed to escape in 38 minutes and 35 seconds, so the only criticism that I have is that it would have been nice if the room had a couple of extra puzzles/challenges (although I understand from the owners that we were the first team to escape 9A Gateway, so I appreciate that it is difficult to design a game length that suits all groups).  

All 4 people in our group really enjoyed ourselves.  We will certainly be back to try their next rooms when they open and I really recommend ParaPark Sydney to anyone who likes puzzles or challenges (and certainly to anyone who has tried and enjoyed an escape room hunt before)!

Where:                    2 / 119 Wicks Road Macquarie Park

Duration:                60 minutes

Themes:                 1 theme (although additional rooms are planned)

Cost:                       $100 per team (3 players or less) or $150 per team (4 to 5 players)                                      [Although watch out for coupons on their Facebook page]

Overall Rating:       4.5 out of 5 stars

More details: