It’s no secret that most of the Bomb Squad dream of fighting crime and ensuring that justice is served. Recently we’ve been getting into the mysteries that are Escape Rooms, with the Sydney Squad recently checking out Escape Hunt Sydney and the Enigma Room. Escape Hunt kindly invited us to have a taste of what their Melbourne rooms have to offer, so we donned our Sherlock caps and set out to solve the Secrets of the Brewery, a dastardly tale of murder and mystery.
For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, an Escape Room is a real-life adventure and puzzle solving experience. Players are “locked” in a room and need to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape the room or move on. Clues are hidden in the room, and there is typically a time limit involved. It’s important to note that you’re not actually locked in the room (for safety reasons) and Escape Hunt has an intercom that can be used to contact the staff at any time.
Escape Hunt Melbourne has three different puzzles for teams of 2-5 players, all with a Melbourne setting: The Tram Bomb Heist, Abduction in the Graveyard and the one that we played: Secrets of the Brewery. There are actually five rooms on the premises, with the latter two games duplicated in two rooms. This allows competitive play, where two teams can compete head to head to see who can unlock the room fastest.
When we arrived, we were offered refreshments and invited to relax while our room was made ready. On the coffee table were a few small wooden block-style puzzles to help warm up the brain. We were then briefed about what the experience would entail and given case files introducing us to the mystery at hand. We were also handed torches, a sign of what to expect, and then lead into a dark room. Once the staff had given us our final instructions, the door was “locked” behind us and a one-hour timer started.
This was my first Escape Room experience. At first, I thought that the room seemed rather small, but after the first few minutes of discovering all of the potential clues in the room, I think that it was a good size. If it had been much larger the number of potential clues or puzzles may have been overwhelming. And without spoiling the experience, as we began to solve puzzles it became clear that there was a lot more going on than initially met the eye.
Secrets of the Brewery is an intermediate room that required us to solve the murder of a German brew master and recover his stolen secret beer recipe, for which he was murdered. As we progressed through the room, we uncovered suspects along with clues to help us discover which of them was the perpetrator. The range of puzzles in the room required the use of many different skills, which allows team members to play to their different strengths. I really liked each of the puzzles, and each was incredibly satisfying to solve. It should be no surprise that teamwork also plays a huge part. We had five people and normally found ourselves working on two puzzles at a time. The room was equipped with a whiteboard to help keep track of clues.
If you get stuck, you’re allowed to use the intercom to ask for as many clues as you want. I was determined not to ask for clues, so we didn’t, but we finished a couple of minutes over time so we technically didn’t make it. The Escape Hunt staff graciously allowed us the extra time because we were so very very close when our time ran out! From the time we arrived and were offered tea until we had completed the room and left, the staff themselves were wonderful. They were warm, friendly and contributed to making the overall experience a memorable one. Since we hadn’t been asking for clues while in the room, they would still occasionally check in on us via intercom to make sure we were okay.
The entire experience was incredibly fun. For the entire time I was in the room, I was completely engrossed in the mystery and solving the puzzles. The sense of achievement I felt each time we cracked a puzzle or uncovered a new clue was a lot more satisfying than I expected. I had expected the experience to be like finding clues in a room in a video game, but there’s something incredibly wonderful about being there in person and using your own hands and senses to handle the clues. For this reason, I think that the Escape Room concept will appeal to people who aren’t just geeks and gamers. It’s also a wonderful bonding experience. My team and I came out riding high on our accomplishments and eager to do another one.
That feeling hasn’t gone. I can see this being the start of a new addiction. I loved what Escape Hunt Melbourne had to offer and am planning to return and check out their other two rooms in the near future. I would highly recommend it, and if you’re not in Melbourne, Escape Hunt has rooms in Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth, along with international locations.
Escape Hunt Melbourne: http://melbourne.escapehunt.com/
More Escape Hunt Locations: http://escapehunt.com/
Thanks to Escape Hunt Melbourne for a wonderful evening, and to my temporary Bombers Sam, Alex, Dave and Siobhan!