I have made this blog to provide my opinion on various escape rooms that have opened up, predominantly in Sydney but also beyond. I have been to almost all escape room outfits in Sydney and a total of 150 different rooms so far in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns), as well as 14 in person in California and a bunch of virtual rooms worldwide (for a current total of 163). My aim is to help you to spend your hard-earned money on awesome rooms, not crappy ones...
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Review of Escape Hunt Sydney - Assassin in the Pub
Almost 2 years ago, my team and I tried out our first escape room in
Sydney. It was “Murder in the Pub” at
Escape Hunt Sydney. You can read my
review of the room here.
In summary, we thought the room was middle of the pack (and that was
before we even knew what the pack looked like).
Looking back some 45 rooms later, I’m pleased to have learned that my instincts
were bang on. Escape Hunt Sydney is a
sleek outfit that caters well to first-timers in corporate team events. That is their market. The quality of their rooms and puzzle designs
are however middle of the pack at best.
I was contacted by Escape Hunt Sydney because in my recent reviews of the
escape rooms we tried in Adelaide, I had made the comment that there are only 2
escape room outfits in Adelaide and the choice of which outfit to check out was
made easy by the fact that one of the outfits is Escape Hunt Adelaide, which I
was happy to miss based on our experience in their Sydney operations.
Long story short(ish), I agreed to come back to Escape Hunt Sydney to
try out their latest room in our (shared) hope that their rooms had improved.
We checked out Assassin in the Pub this time around in November 2016, which replaced Murder in the Pub
back at the start of 2016. We were a team of
3 this time (as my wife was at home with our newborn and kindly gave me a leave
pass one evening to head into the city). This was our 34th room in Sydney and our 46th room in Australia. As always, I’ll start off with what I liked most about the room:
·the front of house is up there with the best escape rooms. It is very professionally run – they offer tea
and coffee facilities and really comfortable couches;
·the game master was really enthusiastic;
·they use walkie talkies for their hint system – it’s not the best method
I have seen, but it is effective and it did work well enough for us;
·they have had an improvement overall in the quality of puzzles. When we were last at Escape Hunt Sydney,
their puzzles were 90% locks. There has
been an improvement in the variety and quality of puzzles; and
·Murder in the Pub, which has been replaced by this room, was based
around figuring out who the murderer was.
However, it had no bearing on how you escaped from the room, such that
we escaped but had no idea whodunnit . This time identifying the assassin was central
to the escape, so this was a large improvement.
And now for what I didn’t like so much:
·whilst the variety of puzzles was definitely better than last time, many
of the puzzles just didn’t make sense in the space. One puzzle, for example, requires you to
thread a metal ring around a piece of wire without the two touching in order to
turn on a telephone and open a drawer (think of the 1980s game of
Operation). This just made no sense at
all (whether in a Pub or anywhere else for that matter);
·the whole theme didn’t really work well for me. The concept is that a murder has occurred and
from a list of about 7 or 8 suspects, you have to figure out who the assassin
is. A friendly good samaritan has left
clues for you throughout the pub. It
doesn’t make much sense to me why a good samaritan would leave clues in various
ciphers and codes, nor have access to confidential police dossiers. Maybe I am being overly picky here (and I have
done some really great rooms lately with great theming, which did affect my
views on this room);
·there was an error with one of the puzzles. Escape Hunt Sydney has 3 different room
themes and they have 2 of each of those rooms (so 6 in total). The rooms are identical so that if you have large
groups, you can split and go into identical rooms. For some silly reason, one of the puzzles in
the rooms is slightly different and when resetting the room, they accidentally
used a piece from Room A in Room B.
Accordingly, the puzzle failed (it meant that it was physically
impossible to solve the puzzle without breaking it, which we did);
·there were some elements in the room that detracted from the immersion
of the experience. For example, one door
mechanism had signs all over it requesting that we seek permission from opening
the door (presumably via walkie talkie).
This was just weird; and
·there was no “wow factor” in this room.
There was one puzzle (or maybe two) that we liked, but the rest were
either pretty common amongst escape rooms or just didn’t work in the
space. It felt like some of the puzzles
were just there for the sake of it, rather than being tied to the story line.
I gave the above feedback to Escape Hunt Sydney after we tried Assassin
in the Pub. It’s really difficult to
explain simple reasons why one escape room is not at the same level as the
competition. So I asked if they had
tried other great rooms in Sydney like Enigma Room, Paniq Room, Mission Sydney,
etc. The response I received was that
yes they had tried them – some they liked and some they didn’t. I found this really surprising because I
would have thought that if Sydney Escape Hunt had truly tried a great room in
Sydney, they would have had a light bulb moment and realised the shortcomings
in their own rooms.
Escape Hunt Sydney targets corporate teams, which are often full of
first timers who have never been to truly great escape rooms before. I have yet to speak to a single person who has
been to both Escape Hunt Sydney and other rooms in Sydney who has preferred
Escape Hunt Sydney’s rooms over the others.
Not one. First timers might give
positive feedback (which explains why Escape Hunt Sydney has reasonably strong
TripAdvisor feedback), but first time players simply don’t know the quality
that exists in other rooms in Sydney.
For me, each of the rooms at Enigma, Paniq and Mission Sydney (and
others, such as Cipher Room, ParaPark, Next Level Escape, Labyrinth, etc) are
head and shoulders better than the rooms at Escape Hunt Sydney. Better theming, better immersion, better
puzzles and a more enjoyable experience.
As always, the main consideration for me when reviewing a room is how much
fun we had. My team agreed that Assassin
in the Pub was “just ok”.
Escape Hunt Sydney has the space and the staff that could make for truly
great rooms. They need to not merely
target corporate groups and instead invest in great room and puzzle design (perhaps
from third parties).
If they invested more in storylines and immersive game experiences, they
would be a force to be reckoned with.
Until then, give them a miss and spend your money instead on one of the many
better outfits in Sydney.
Themes: 3 different themes (but multiple rooms of each theme)
$38 each (4 players) (We
played at the invitation of the owners)
Improved but still very average – give them a miss
More details: http://sydney.escapehunt.com/