PANiQ ROOM Sydney – SEN3ES [Review]

Senses: They get touchy feely.

Location: Sydney, Australia

Date played: April 5, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Price:  varies depending on team size; approximately 30-40 AUD per ticket.

Setting, theme, and story

We enjoyed Senses’ distinctive aesthetic. 

The setting was magic-themed. According to the Paniq website, we were in the house of a famous magician, searching for his secrets. When the doors closed behind us, we would need to use our senses to escape.

The game didn’t tell a story. Rather, the magical theme was the pretense for an environment of heightened and diminished senses.

That is the crux of this game.

Attention to detail

Not surprisingly, this game rewarded attention to detail.

Senses required us to search carefully, in different ways at different times.

Team victory photo at Paniq Room. Features David, Lisa, and Devin from left to right.

Taste?

…was not included, in order to keep the game hygienic. Taste aside, throughout the game, we relied heavily on each of our different senses.

When the game required specific senses, others were deliberately diminished. This could give some players a fright, but it was definitely not a horror environment.

Should I play PANiQ ROOM Sydney’s SEN3ES?

Escape rooms frequently toy with our senses to create challenge and puzzle variety. This game leaned into that. The result was interesting and fun.

Senses didn’t convey a story, but the theme and setting contributed to that deliberate manipulation and the overall experience.

Though not particularly spectacular or dramatic, this game was a lot of fun.

Book your hour with PANiQ ROOM Sydney’s SEN3ES, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: PANiQ ROOM Sydney provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Rush Escape Game – Da Vinci Down Under [Review]

Go for the door, stay for the puzzles.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Date played: April 29, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-5

Price: 2 players $40 per person, 3 players $36 per person, 4-6 players $32 per person

Theme & story

Da Vinci Down Under was a puzzle room themed on the quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo.

The game didn’t have much of a story, but it had its fair share of theming. Da Vinci Down Under was dimly lit with beautiful wood decor; it had a handcrafted, earthy feel to it.

Handcrafted & robust

The entire game was built with skill and deliberate care. Everything was incredibly sturdy and clearly built to withstand the punishment that comes with repeated play.

The door

Throughout Australia, escape room companies are not legally allowed to lock their players inside of the game. This is also the case in many municipalities throughout the United States. There are a ton of good and not-so-good ways to handle this, but Rush Escape had the most brilliant method we’ve ever seen:

They nested a door within a door.

The outer door never locked and simply latched shut. The inner door was locked and releasing that lock was our goal. This heavy door was beautifully designed, impeccably engineered, and a true innovation.

Low lighting

A room lit in red, two Leonardo Da Vinci photos hang on the wall. A shelf holds a small locked box.

Da Vinci Down Under was deliberately dimly lit. This was done to create ambiance, but it also added to the difficulty, and not necessarily in a fun way.

Rush Escape Game did an excellent job of loading the room up with more flashlights than we could possibly use. But still, one hand was always occupied by a light. Playing as a team of two, this became tedious. If one of us took on a task that required two hands, the other had to hold the flashlight or the first person had to use their chin. There were times we just wished there was a section of the room that was well-lit so that we could bring things to it and work there.

Blacklights

Similarly, Da Vinci Down Under relied heavily on UV lights. We became frustrated constantly swapping between flashlights and blacklights.

Solid puzzles

The puzzles within Da Vinci Down Under were challenging, logically sound, and well-crafted. They kept us busy and entertained.

Hinting

Hints were delivered via walkie-talkie. We really struggled with this. There was interference from someone else on our channel and our walkie-talkies didn’t work so well.

We had a hard time communicating with our gamemaster and an even harder time hearing what he was saying to us. This burned a few minutes of our time and ultimately cost us the game: we knew what to do in the end and misheard something over the walkie-talkies that led us astray.

Our gamemaster did a wonderful job overall, but was spread too thin overseeing multiple games and the front desk. When we had to ask for a hint, we also had to catch him up on what we were doing.

Post game photo standing in the Rush Escape lobby. Their logo is in the background, we are holding sacks that say "Almost" & "Winners;" "Winners" is being held upside down.

Team size

Da Vinci Down Under is doable with two people, but I think it really needs three people. We just didn’t have enough hands between the pair of us.

Rush Escape Game (and most escape rooms in Australia) will not partner you up with strangers by default (which isn’t a bad thing), so if you’re an American in Melbourne, you’ll need to keep that in mind before booking.

Should I play Rush Escape Game’s Da Vinci Down Under?

Da Vinci Down Under was a very fun and aesthetically pleasing puzzle room.

If you love escape rooms, design, and engineering, it’s worth playing just to see the door. I’m not kidding.

I didn’t love everything about the game, but it was constructed with a level of care that is rarely seen in escape rooms. That’s where Da Vinci Down Under truly shines. It wasn’t perfect, but the craftsmanship, thought, and love that went into it was truly superb.

If you can show up with three to five people, then this is a great game to play. If you’re playing with fewer, you may be better served playing their other game, Lost in Paradise (we poked our heads in and got a walkthrough, but never played it). This is a company worth visiting.

Book your hour with Rush Escape Games’ Da Vinci Down Under, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Rush Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for this game.

The Enigma Room – In Memoriam [Review]

It’s a dream within a dream within an escape room.

Location: Sydney, Australia

Date played: April 5, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Price: Prices range from 31 – 39 AUD per person, and vary based on the number of players.

2016 RoomEscapeArtist.com Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Theme & story

As psychic doctors, we stepped into the mind of a coma patient. Our goal was to navigate her memories to find the one that would wake her up.

The Enigma Room's hallway. Their name is painted on the wall, their logo of intersecting questionmarks is painted on a doorway.

It was basically medical Inception in an escape room.

The game space took us through various “memories” that were varying degrees of abstract.

The story that unfolded was incredibly sweet. No nightmares. No ugliness.

Blindfolded beginning

To begin the game, we were blindfolded and led into the first room of the game.

The blindfolds were completely unnecessary. The first room contained interesting challenges, but wasn’t visually spectacular. There wasn’t a staggering reveal, it was just a room.

Blindfolds gross me out. Once I saw how unnecessary this one was, I was indignant that I had had to wear one.

Navigating the mind

Making In Memoriam a game within a dream was brilliant. It allowed the designer to present a story through abstract puzzles. Instead of the puzzles feeling out of place (which frequently happens in escape rooms that attempt to tell a story). The abstractness made the game feel more like a dream.

A long hallway with pictures mounted on the walls, an a picture on the floor leaned against the wall. The opposite wall has a door with a clock over it.

Geeky easter eggs

There was a handful of geeky Easter eggs hidden within the game for attentive, pop-culture aware nerds… keep your eyes open for them. I spotted half of of them and completely missed the others.

Construction & puzzles

In Memoriam used a lot of very common closures and locks and also peppered in some more unusual tech. The puzzles were fun and the interactions were entertaining.

Surprisingly emotional

I saw the conclusion of the story coming, but I still found it far more emotionally impactful than I was anticipating.

Escape rooms have made me feel like I was on an adventure. They have made me feel afraid. They have made me feel brilliant and they have made me feel pretty dumb.

This was the first room that made me feel the warm fuzzies.

A proofreader please!

In Memoriam is a beautiful game that tells a great story, but it needs an editor. There were written passages that had typos, duplicated words, and clunky language.
Everyone needs a proofreader; we have one (Thanks, Eva!).

Busted blacklight

There was a blacklight within In Memoriam and it was used quite nicely. It would have been great if it had worked properly.

These things need to be tested regularly and replaced at the first sign of failure.

Should I play The Enigma Room’s In Memoriam?

In Memoriam is a beautiful game with a tender story. It stands out in an escape room world filled with thrills, espionage, and frights as an unusual and welcome deviation from the norm.

The puzzles were great and the game was fun. A finicky UV light and some grammar notwithstanding, In Memoriam is a must play.

Bring your wits and your empathy with you because you’re in for a truly special treat.

Book your hour with The Enigma Room’s In Memoriam, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Essa of Intervirals

We enjoyed In Memoriam with the brilliant and incredibly kind Essa of the Aussie Escape Room blog, Intervirals.

Intervirals was one of the earliest escape room sites out there, and one that we’ve held in high regard for years. Essa showed us some very warm Australian hospitality. Lisa and I are so appreciative and pleased that we finally had a chance to meet Essa in person.

Full disclosure: The Enigma Room provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape Room Melbourne – Kellar’s Magic Emporium [Review]

Unexpected tricks.

Location: Melbourne Australia

Date played: March 29, 2016

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 3-4

Price: varies depending on team size; approximately 32-35 AUD per ticket.

Setting

Escape Room Melbourne was built into an active garage/ warehouse. The games were built into this rustic, eclectic, workshop-y locale.

Story

In keeping with the aesthetic, we entered the eclectic (but not cluttered) magic shop of a world-renowned magician.

A dimly lit room with a poster featuring the magician Keller's "Self Decapitation." In the foreground is an aged open book.

This magician, Kellar, was making a comeback tour and looking for new assistants. If we passed his tests, we would get to tour with him. But as the tests got underway, we realized this challenge wasn’t as it had first appeared. We shouldn’t have expected anything less from a magician.

Puzzle Flow

Kellar’s Magic Emporium was a linear game.

Thus, it was better not to scavenge too heavily. From the beginning, the game set us on a reasonably clear path.

The puzzles encompassed a variety of skill sets. They wound their way through an eccentric assortment of older objects as well as triggered technological features.

Wear

Keller’s Magic Emporium relied on its fair share of combination locks. A few of these needed to be replaced.

The game also included some well-worn, older objects that were showing their years. Some were in dire shape.

Story escalation

Kellar’s Magic Emporium told the story of the magician. As the game progressed, the story became increasingly intense and personal.

This intensity might frighten some players, depending on their disposition. The game escalated from its early magic-shop vibe into something more dramatic.

Communication

In one particularly amusing instance, we found ourselves at a complete loss due to a discrepancy between American English and Australian English. Our attentive gamemaster, Kathryn, translated over the walkie-talkie hint system.

Escape Room Melbourne was designed to be won. Players were meant to experience the entire story of this magician and figure out how they fit into his magic escapades. We didn’t struggle, but the gamemaster would have been there to push us forward had we needed it.

Instead, she offered wonderful recommendations for our upcoming drive along the Great Ocean Road.

Lisa and David in front of a massive arch created by errosion along Australia's Southern coast.
Welcome to The Deep Deep South.

Should I play Escape Room Melbourne’s Kellar’s Magic Emporium?

Kellar’s Magic Emporium took us through an intense, personal, and exciting magical mystery. We thoroughly enjoyed experiencing this story.

At times this game might be a bit much for young children or particularly sensitive players. But those caveats aside, Kellar’s Magic Emporium is a must play.

The staff work hard to give the players the best experience for them.

Book your hour with Escape Room Melbourne’s Kellar’s Magic Emporium, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Melbourne provided media discounted tickets for this game.