Sunday, 21 March 2021

Revelation Puzzle Rooms - Cold Case Review


Hi all

Our third room, played back to back, at Revelation Puzzle Rooms (back in March 2021) was Cold Case. 

As with Toxic and Doomsday, the overarching story continues with Cold Case, the room summary of which is below:

Your close relative has been suddenly killed and the man responsible has eluded the police’s grasp. You have decided to take matters into your own hands. The detective on the case has agreed to give you access to the crime scene.

Before long, the case will go cold and the criminal will walk free. Can you find him before it is too late?

Cold Case was our third room in Canberra and our 170th room to date.  Here is what I thought:

  • the theming in Cold Case was excellent.  The room theme allows for more creativity than a science/lab themed room (as with Toxic/Doomsday) and I thought Revelation did a fantastic job;
  • I thought the puzzles in Cold Case were really fun and really quite varied.  As with Toxic and Doomsday, there is a lot of high tech in the room that is well-concealed.  There is also some hunt and seek fun and some really unusual puzzles;
  • of all 3 rooms at Revelation, Cold Case is the room that is best-suited to escape room enthusiasts. The theming is really strong, there is a strong, immersive storyline and there is a really nice mix of interesting and unusual puzzles that have been clearly designed to fit perfectly with the room’s theme.  That’s not to say that newer players/corporates/families would not enjoy Cold Case - they absolutely would, but I think newer teams perhaps don’t appreciate great theming and immersion as much as more experienced players;
  • although we escaped this room very quickly, it felt like it was Revelation Puzzle Rooms’ most difficult room of the 3 on offer.  Our team managed to score the record for the fastest 4 player team (as well as the fastest team ever (of any size) to escape.  That, out of interest, included bumping off “Escape This Podcast” who used to hold the record for the fastest team :-)  
  • the average escape rate with Cold Case is 37%, as compared with 51% and 53% in Toxic and Doomsday respectively.  I agree that Cold Case is the harder of the rooms.  Again, we escaped in less than 30 minutes (26mins 25 secs), so for an experienced team like ours, I think the room would benefit from 2 or 3 extra puzzles.  But again, I get that most of Revelation’s players might be newer players and Revelation has to play to its market.

Cold Case was our favourite of the 3 rooms on offer at Revelation.  It is the strongest of the 3 rooms on theming and puzzle design and for me personally, I enjoy a detective-type room more than I do a science-themed room.  Each to their own.

Where:                         8/151-155 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick

Duration:                      60 minutes

Themes:                      3 themes (with another one planned for release later in 2021)

 Cost:                           Price:                           $40pp (depending on team size)

                                    Overall Thoughts:         Excellent theming and puzzles – our favourite room at Revelation

More details:                http://revelationpuzzlerooms.com

 

Revelation Puzzle Rooms - Doomsday Review


Hi everyone

The second room that we hit at Revelation Puzzle Rooms (in March 2021) was Doomsday, the room summary of which is below:

 

You are a group of operatives working for a super secret organisation. Extremely high levels of Valerium have been detected inside Genesis Laboratories and you have been sent to investigate. You infiltrated the Lab as Chemists, Biohazard Officers and the like.

After a few days, you manage to track down the source to Lab 3, and you are now breaking back in, in the middle of the night, to find the exact source and put a stop to it. You can’t be sure of the exact cause, but whatever it is, it can’t be anything good. Can you make the right choice before the time runs out?

Doomsday was our second room in Canberra and our 169th room to date. 

Here is what I thought:

  • Doomsday is “break in, find something and get out” room, but it has a really unique element that I haven’t seen (or even heard of) before.  Doomsday is played in the same physical space as Revelation’s Toxic room.  From a design perspective, Revelation designed effectively 2 rooms’ worth of puzzles in the same space, with half being playable in the Toxic version and the other half in the Doomsday version;
  • we played both rooms within about 15 minutes of each other, so we were very aware of each of the puzzles in the space that we had just solved.  I suspect most teams who play both rooms might not be playing them back to back like we did, but it really doesn’t matter either way – the puzzles in each room are quite different;
  •  I was really impressed with the execution of this and I am genuinely surprised that other escape room businesses have not tried this idea, particularly in some locations (like Sydney or Melb CBDs) where rents are incredibly high and space is at an absolute premium;
  •  I was also impressed that the storyline in Toxic and Doomsday is seamless and continues across both rooms.  It also makes sense why players are back in the space (and the puzzles all make sense in the space too, which is great);
  • again, as with Toxic, there is a little bit of hunt and seek fun, together with a really nice mix of puzzles;
  •  my team found this room a little harder than Toxic.  We got stuck on a couple of puzzle elements (the usual thing of not seeing what is right in front of us).  We escaped in 32 minutes and 24 seconds, which was still a 4 player record for the room, so that was nice;
  • the level of theming in Doomsday was, you guessed it, the same level as in Toxic :-); and
  • again, as with Toxic, this room is not scary and would suit families (although there is a reasonably noisy alarm that goes off during the experience, so bear that in mind for any younger kids who don’t like loud noises).  But the experience is not scary and the level of difficulty would definitely suit families as well.

As with Toxic, my team really enjoyed Doomsday.  The continuation of the overall story was nice, there was a nice mix of new puzzles, and it was really cool to see how the same space can be used for quite different puzzles. 

For breaking the 4 player record, we walked away with a cool room pin and record breaker pin, which was really nice.  In each of their rooms, Revelation shows each of the puzzles on a screen and how fast your team managed to solve each puzzle (together with how fast you were relative to other players).  That was something that we have seen used in Sydney and elsewhere in Canberra. 

Where:                         8/151-155 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick

Duration:                      60 minutes

Themes:                      3 themes (with another one planned for release later in 2021)

Cost:                            Price:                          $40pp (depending on team size)

                                   Overall Thoughts:          A fun room that uniquely uses the same space as another room

More details:                http://revelationpuzzlerooms.com

 

Revelation Puzzle Rooms - Toxic Review

Hi everyone

My team of 4 first spoke about going to Canberra to check out the rooms down there in 2016.  Life then got in the way (as well as a pandemic), but we finally managed to get down there in March 2021.  In fact, we had booked the trip for January 2021 but the Avalon COVID-19 cluster at the time resulted in the ACT Government closing its borders, so we had to cancel at the last minute  

Fast forward 2 months and the trip was back on.  We drove down early on a Friday morning and arrived into our nation’s capital at lunch time.  Our itinerary contained 9 escape rooms in a 47 hour period.  It sounds worse that it was – I planned it over 3 days (with lots of nice restaurants included for good measure).  We stayed in a hotel in Braddon, which seemed to be pretty central to the 3 different escape room businesses that we were attending over the long weekend. 

First up on the itinerary were all 3 rooms back to back at Revelation Puzzle Rooms.  They are located in Fyshwick in an industrial estate.  I had looked on TripAdvisor for a decent lunch place to hit before we did all 3 rooms.  TripAdvisor suggested a cafĂ© called Pellegrino’s (which was only a few minutes’ drive from Revelation) and the food was great (we all had the chicken schnitzel burgers, which were fantastic).

We arrived and met Daniel, the owner and designer of Revelation Puzzle Rooms. I had been corresponding with Daniel over Facebook Messenger since June 2018, so it was great to finally say hello in person. 

Whenever we are checking out multiple rooms at an escape room business, I like to play the rooms in the order of easiest to most difficult.  I find that it usually takes one room to warm up and to get inside the head of the puzzle designer.  So, we started with their Toxic room, the summary of which is as follows:

 

A major pharmaceutical company by the name of Genesis Laboratories has posted an ad for researchers to help create a cure. You respond to the job offer; however, when you arrive things are not as they seem.

Thousands continue to fall victim to Valerium. Can you create a cure before it’s too late?

Toxic was our first room in Canberra and our 168th room to date.

Here is my review of Toxic:

  • as can be seen from the room summary above, Toxic is a “save the world from a virus” room.  Whist this is a pretty popular theme amongst escape room businesses, I thought Revelation Puzzle Rooms executed this theme really well;
  • what lifts the room further is that each of the room themes at Revelation Puzzle Rooms are linked in an overarching storyline.  I really liked this element; 
  • Toxic has some tricky puzzles, all of which fit the room theme.  There is a lot of nicely-concealed tech throughout the room, as well as a small amount of hunt and seek fun.  The puzzles were all varied and were challenging (without being impossibly difficult); 
  • the quality of the theming was pretty good – the room theme lends itself to being simpler to kit out than, for example, some of the other themed rooms in Canberra which are set in completely different eras.  As far as “save the world from a virus” rooms go, the theming was good.  They also have a killer soundtrack for each of their rooms at Revelation J;
  • the hint system was the voice of God system.  We didn’t ask for any hints, but it’s nice to know that they use the best system available.  I’m also very happy to report that our game master Daniel was watching our every move and knew exactly where we were up to.  This was not true of all of our experiences elsewhere in Canberra unfortunately; and
  •  I would describe Toxic as being on the easier side.  It is also not dark or scary, so I think it would be a good choice for newer players and families.  That being said, as an experienced team, we all still had a lot of fun.  Our team escaped in 25 minutes and 11 seconds.  Whenever we escape a room in less than 30 minutes, my usual comment is that I think the room could do with a few extra puzzles (so that experienced players feel like they are getting their money’s worth).  Whilst I think that comment is true for Toxic as well, I assume that a lot of Revelation’s players are newer players, given that this room currently has a 51% escape rate.  If Revelation’s market is newer players/corporates, then I can appreciate why the room has fewer puzzles than it otherwise might have.  It is difficult to design a room that meets the difficulty level required for new players and experienced players alike.

My team had a lot of fun playing Toxic.  We managed to score both the record for the fastest escape time of any 4 player team, as well as the fastest escape time for any team (irrespective of the number of players in the team), so that was nice.  For playing the room, we scored a really nice coloured pin – for beating the record, we scored an additional record breaker pin.  This is something that only a few businesses provide, but which I think players (particularly enthusiasts) really like.  We certainly did.

Based on our escape times for each of Revelation’s rooms, I think Toxic is the easiest of their rooms.  Despite being on the easier side, it was definitely a strong room with some interesting and fun puzzles.

Where:                         8/151-155 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick

Duration:                      60 minutes

Themes:                      3 themes (with another one planned for release later in 2021)

Cost:                            Price:                           $40pp (depending on team size)

                                    Overall Thoughts:         A fun, science-themed room that kept us on our toes!

More details:                http://revelationpuzzlerooms.com

Monday, 15 March 2021

Logic Locks - Secrets of Eliza's Heart Review


 

Hi everyone

Way back in June 2020, I played an escape room online called The Secrets of Eliza's Heart.  It is run by a company called Logic Locks, based in Amsterdam.

This time rather than my usual team of 4, I played with other escape room enthusiasts based in Melbourne, Auckland and England.  We were a team of 4 for this room.

The summary of The Secrets of Eliza's Heart is below (from their website):

The Secrets of Eliza's Heart is a puzzle focused Escape Room with a strong emphasis on story and atmosphere. The game can be a bit scary at times but never drifts into the realm of Horror.

Here are my thoughts on The Secrets of Eliza's Heart:

  • the game was played via Google Meet.  This all seemed to work well and we didn't have any technical issues;
  • the room theme is that we are archaelogy students trying to assist a fellow student to find the fabled heart necklace in a professor's office.  That fellow student performed the role of our avatar for the experience (and she was a really great game master);
  • the room had strong theming, with all puzzles being appropriate to the theme and making sense in the space;
  • there were a number of puzzles of varying levels of difficulty, which we all found interesting and a nice level of challenge;
  • there was also a reasonable amount of hunt and seek required in the room.  This was difficult in an online room (particularly in poorly-lit spaces), but at times this was improved by our helpful avatar pointing her camera at certain points of interest in the room (until we saw the relevant items we were searching for);
  • there was a nice level of well-concealed technology in the room, which again really suited the space; and
  • I would describe this room as being suitable for adults and older children (perhaps over the age of 12yo, depending on the child).  There are some darker elements to this room.

Our team really enjoyed The Secrets of Eliza's Heart.  At the time of (finally) writing up this review, I have now played almost 20 online escape rooms and I'm happy to report that The Secrets of Eliza's Heart is up there with some of the best of them.

Room Type:           Live Avatar Online Room (based in Amsterdam)

Duration:               60 minutes

Themes:                2

Cost:                     
98 Euro (or approximately $150AUD) per team
 

Overall Rating:      Live Avatar experience with great theming and fun puzzles

More details:          https://www.logiclocks.com/

New Sydney escape room business - Cubic Escape Room Sydney

 

Hi everyone

I recently learned that a new escape room business is about to open in Sydney.  They are called Cubic Escape Room Sydney and are based at Level 1, 741 George Street, Haymarket.  Those of you who ever went to Break the Code will recognise the address -  Cubic Escape Room has taken the premises that used to be occupied by Break the Code (before they closed down).  

I contacted Cubic Escape Room and asked them a few questions about their business (to help me write this post).  Firstly though, they will have 3 rooms at the time that they open.  The summaries of each of their rooms are below:

1.       Memento

The brain is the most complex organism in the universe with billions of cells and trillions of interlinked pathways creating a perfect cognitive machine. Imagine if we could infiltrate this system – experience someone else’s memories firsthand, or even alter or erase memories entirely?

You and your team are employees of Cubic Lobe. Today, you’ve been given a new client and a task like no other. Are you up to the task? Can you navigate the brain’s synapses, solve the puzzles of the mind, and complete your task in time?

A journey into the mind!All-age-friendly story!The ending is up to you!

Capacity: 2-6 people

Time Limit: 70 minutes

Age Limit: suitable for 12 and over, you will need to have at least 2 members over 15.

Difficulty Level:  3/5 


2.      The Recording Device

A psychology hospital, a deadly murder, a raging thunderstorm, and you, the innocent bystanders. One thing is for certain – there’s no way in and no way out. Hurry! The clock is ticking…

Can you crack the case and find the truth before everything is too late?

Choose your character and step into the case! A killer on the loose and a trail of clues. Can you solve the case?

Capacity: 2-8 people

Time Limit: 80 minutes

Age Limit: suitable for 12 and over, you will need to have at least 2 members over 15.

Difficulty Level:  4.5/5

 

3.       Project Delta

In 2052, you have been recruited to join Rainbow Galactic’s team of astronauts under the Project Delta Agreement. Your mission is to fly onboard spaceship Venus and carry biological clone experiments on other terrestrial planets to achieve space colonization through genetic engineering. Will you be able to revolutionize the entire human race or will the project’s dark secrets consume you first?

Our most popular room! An astronaut adventure in space! Huge trap behind the truth!

Capacity: 2-8 people

Time Limit: 100 minutes

Age Limit: suitable for 12 and over, you will need to have at least 2 members over 15.

Difficulty:  5/5


One of the owners of Cubic Escape Room Sydney told me that he met his wife in an escape room in Sydney and since that time, they both agreed that they would like to start an escape room business because it was something that they both enjoyed and were interested in.  He described their rooms as having a great storyline, being quite high-tech, containing mechanical elements, logical puzzles and an overall immersive experience.

Cubic Escape Room is planning on opening in the middle of April 2021.  At the time of their opening, they will have 3 rooms, but there plan is to open a fourth room in July 2021.

The owners of Cubic Escape Room have offered for my team to come and beta test their rooms before they open.  As always, I will report back here with my reviews of the rooms. 

Thanks

Scott

New Sydney escape room business - IceBreak Escape Room

Hi everyone

I recently learned that a new escape room business has opened in Sydney, by the name of Icebreak Escape Room.  They are located at Suite 3, Level 8, 428 George Street, Sydney.  

I sent them an email and one of the owners, Rose came back to me and has answered some of my questions about her business (to help me write this post).

Rose worked in an escape room as a part-time job for 2.5 years and she found it to be a really good industry to work in.  So, together with her husband and 2 friends, Rose decided to start their own business. 

Icebreak opened back on 1 October 2020.  They have 3 room themes, the summaries of which are below:

1.   Silent

There was once a famous fortune-teller who lived in an older cabin.  As long as you give him enough gold coins, he would answer all your questions.  However, one day, the old cabin became deathly quiet.  Now, you are in front of Mr Slient's old cabing seeking to know your own future...

Duration: 60 mins  Capacity:  2-5 people  Difficulty 3/5

2.   X-Case

In an abandoned factory office, there was a mysterious murder.  Police searched this area and have no clue.  So they called you as a detective to help.  You came to the factory, but found things are far from a simple murder case.

Duration:  60 min   Capacity:  3-6 people   Difficulty:  3.5/5

3.   Vanishing

Recently a young architect has been reported missing after receving a large inheritance.  His concerned friends have come to you for help.  Will you be able to find out what has happened?

Duration:  80 mins   Capacity: 2-10 people   Difficulty:  4/5 

 

Rose describes their rooms as being very story-based and largely linear in design.  They have brought the rooms to Australia from China, but have changed approximately 30-50% of each of the rooms to fit the style of the Australian escape room market.  Rose also told me that their rooms are always evolving, as they learn from their customers' experiences and feedback. 

My team and I will hopefully get over to Icebreak soon and as always, I will post my reviews here.

Thanks

Scott


 

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Next Level Escape - The Game Review


 

Hi everyone!

Just before Christmas 2020, my team managed to finally get back to Next Level to check out their latest rooms.  We have enjoyed all of our experiences at Next Level, right back to when they opened and they had a 15 minute blitz room, to pop-up experiences they have designed for conventions through to their online and physical rooms. 

A little over 2 months ago now, my team and I tried out Next Level Escape’s The Game.  In fact, we tried 2 of their rooms back to back – both The Show Must Go On and The Game rooms.  

This time we were our usual team of 4 adults.  The Game was our 162nd room to date (and our 95th room in Sydney).

Here is the summary of The Game from Next Level Escape’s website:

 

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the greatest game of the century is back! Split your group into two teams, Red and Blue, and compete for fame and fortune. Will your team leave in a blaze of glory or in a cloud of shame? If you’ve ever wanted to be on a TV game show, this is your big chance!

Oh, and ignore the remnants of the Green Team, our crew is working on cleaning that up…

IT’S TIME TO PLAY THE GAME!

As always, I’ll start off with what I liked about the room:

  • simply put, this is one of my favourite rooms I have played to date;
  • firstly, the theme is right up my alley - a competive room, jam-packed full of puzzles in which players are split up into different coloured teams fighting it out for bragging rights to wear the victor's crown. What's not to like? 
  • The Game contains a series of puzzles which each team races to complete.  Without going into details, many of the puzzles contain elements from different games from my childhood.  I really enjoyed this element (and the room theme completely allows for this fantastic flexibility of puzzle choices);
  • the quality of theming and props was incredible throughout all aspects of The Game;
  • The Game is one of those very few escape rooms in the market where players are not only racing the clock, but where teams are racing each other.  The only other rooms I can think of where this is the case are where escape room businesses have built the same room twice (and therefore 2 different teams can simultaneously play the same room, racing for bragging rights to escape first).  Good examples of this in Sydney, for those who are interested, are Ex Libris at Next Level Escape and Gateway 9A at Parapark.  In The Game, I found the race between the teams to be incredibly stressful, and it certainly had our adrenalin running.  I loved it;
  • there are so many other clever elements of this room I could talk about: clever use of hunt and seek puzzle elements, dilemmas posed to players when considering to ask for a hint (because the downside is that the other team can listen in), etc, but my absolute favourite element is the design of the overall experience.  Again, this is a spoiler-free zone so I can't go into this at all, but suffice it to say that I have played around 170 escape room experiences at the time of writing this review, and I cannot think of a room design that I have been as impressed by as much as I was impressed by The Game.  The puzzle and room flow are as good as it gets;
  • this wouldn't be a Next Level Room if it didn't contain a heap of humour and laughs, which it certainly did; and
  • Aaron was an excellent game master for our team on the day and as always, we had a long chat with Aaron and Leanne afterwards about the room, the various puzzle elements, how they came up with the design, etc. 

The biggest compliment that I think I can give to Aaron and Leanne is that this was one of my absolute favourite rooms to date, and that is despite the fact that I was on the losing team on the day!

The Game is competitive, stressful, bright and fun, jam-packed full of interesting puzzles and incredibly well-designed. It is also family-friendly.

I don't remember how long it took our team to complete The Game, but I enjoyed every minute.

I love all of the rooms at Next Level Escape, but The Game is my new favourite. 

Where:                   Lower Ground, 23 O'Connell Street, Sydney

Duration:               75 minutes

Themes:                4 (plus an online game)

Cost:                      
$52pp per team of 4 (we played at the kind invitation of the owners)

Overall Rating:      One of my absolute favourite rooms (and I was on the losing team!)

More details:          https://www.nextlevelescape.com.au/