Thursday, 24 May 2018

BMW X-Cape Pop Up Escape Room Review

Hi everyone

On the Australia/NZ Escape Room Enthusiasts Facebook page, I learned about a pop up escape room that BMW had arranged over a 2 day period at the Sydney Opera House (thanks Craig Whitmore!).  Tickets were free and were all snapped up very quickly.

I managed to secure a time slot for 6 people on the opening day.  The room is based on a space theme where players need to find a missing second moon.  For this escape room, I brought along 5 of my work colleagues (only one of whom was an experienced escape room player - most though had never been to an escape room or at most had been to only one or two rooms).

The escape room had been constructed beneath the Sydney Opera House.  To get there, we walked down some "secret" corridors near the Opera Bar.  It was really cool and it assisted in setting the scene.  I didn't appreciate how cool the corridors beneath the Opera House are - they are largely cut straight out of sandstone.  Similarly, the pre-game briefing area was a room with a bar in one corner and sandstone everywhere.  Below is a photo of the hidden corridors:

This was my 94th escape room in Australia and my 64th room in Sydney.

I went into this escape room really not knowing what to expect.  I have been to some fantastic pop up escape rooms (Jetpack Theatre's Art Heist was a great example). I was hopeful that this would be a decent room given that it was being put on by BMW (who aren’t exactly short of money), but you never really know. 

Before we went into the room, we were offered free drinks and were given some puzzles to play around with.  Then, when it was our turn, we were taken into the rooms.  The experience had been created inside an area surrounded by curtain walls.  There were 3 separate rooms in total.

I normally don’t give any spoilers in my reviews, but given it was a pop-up that is not to be repeated, BMW were happy for us to video the whole thing and to tweet about it.  So I will go into detail a little more than I normally would…

The background to the room is that players are trying to find a second moon.  We had an actor with us for the whole experience.  His role was some mysterious, not-of-this-universe character who didn’t say much.  And this guy was VERY into his role.  I suspect an aspect of his role is to also provide non-verbal clues to players, but we were out so quickly that he didn’t get a chance.

Over all, there were probably only about 5 or 6 puzzles in the experience, which was set up into 3 separate rooms.  The first room required players to find and place three coloured rocks in a specific order on plinths.  Rather than have any Arduino or Raspberry Pi going on in the background, the actor simply yelled “Zanthos” when we had solved the puzzle (the only word he seemed to know) and the door to the second room magically opened.

A standout puzzle for me was in room 2.  There was a tree with a bow and arrow with a note that said something about "taking a bite".  There was also a wall that was covered with black velvet with a small hole in the middle.  When I put my hand in the hole, there was a hidden figure on the other side of the velvet wall who grabbed my hand.  Eventually, the mysterious figure handed me a golden apple through the velvet hole.  I managed to convince one of my team members that she should take a bite out of the mysterious golden apple (which we later learned was some sort of gold and vanilla paint job that was indeed edible).  The second she bit into the apple, “Zanthos” and the next door opened.  It was a cool puzzle and officially ticked off my bucket list of having an escape room puzzle that requires players to consume food.

The last room was the most visually spectacular.  There was a sunken section in the middle of the room that was lined with a mirror.  So, when we all leaned over, round globes hanging from the ceiling looked like a light and dark moon (which was of course our mission – to find the second moon).  See picture below of what I’m talking about:

The final puzzle related to a clock with roman numerals.  By memory, we had to figure out the time on the mysterious second moon.  I ignored all that and remembered that this escape room had been designed to advertise the new BMW X2, so I pushed the clock to midnight (or XII) and “Zanthos”, we were out.

It was a VERY quick experience.  I think we were out within about 7 minutes all up.  It was still a lot of fun and as always, I enjoyed the opportunity to introduce new people to the world of escape rooms.

Over all, the theming was well done - the props were all pretty high end.  The mirrored puzzle and apple puzzle were the highlights.  It was also cool that they used a live actor for the experience (which is still a pretty rare thing in Australia).

I really like that companies are starting to use pop up escape rooms to advertise their wares.  I have seen this happening more and more (particularly overseas), so it’s cool that Australia is getting on board.

Where:                    Beneath the Sydney Opera House

Duration:                30 minutes (but more like 7 minutes)

One pop-up theme

Cost:                       Free

Overall Rating:       Nice theming with a live actor but too short!

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