And now for something very different
Do you believe you are good at puzzles? Do you watch mystery movies or T.V. shows and imagine: I could solve that? Do you watch Survivor and think that puzzle stumping them doesn't look that hard? Well, do I have a fun entertainment treat for you to try in Perth.
Until last week I had never heard of escape rooms. Apparently they began in Japan and are sweeping the globe, popping up everywhere. In Sydney and Melbourne there are now quite a few, and now Perth has a top class room escape venue.
What the heck is it, I hear you ask? It's actually a very innovative opportunity for you to pit your mind against the puzzle makers who've created themed rooms from which you have one hour to escape. Currently there are two rooms operational at Ultimate Roomscape with another opening shortly and two more on the way soon after.
My family and I had the fabulous opportunity of trying both rooms, Viral Outbreak and Cat Burglar, last Sunday. It's hard to review, because I don't want to give away any clues at all. So if I sound vague it's for your own benefit. Each room has wonderful surprises in it and both are obviously themed very differently. The puzzles involve not only solving word and number puzzles to move on to the next clue, but you also must hunt for objects among the props, and even get physical with items.
You are given no clues at the beginning, other than the Games Master narrating what has just happened in the scenario. Then your countdown clock is set to one hour and off you go, madly hunting for your first clue (which you must read carefully). Each time you solve a clue you move on to the next clue, but some are frustratingly cryptic at times. You are allowed two hints, whereby you press a button on the wall and in comes the Games Master to give you a hint on where to go next. The hints are good. They don't tell you exactly what to do, but just suggest what something might mean. You need to use your hints wisely, but you don't want to stay too long on any one puzzle because that clock is ticking down quickly.
Some puzzles require you to really think outside the box. We got absolutely stuck on some and needed a clue. Even though our kids are only twelve and fourteen, there were a few puzzles they worked out to help us along. So they enjoyed the feeling of being puzzle-solvers and weren't just third and fourth wheels in there.
There's a tremendous sense of exhilaration when you're the one to solve a puzzle and move the game along. There's also a real thrill at the first viewing of the rooms. Cat Burglar is quite thematic and so well put together. Our family was split on which one they preferred. I loved both of them equally.
Who would enjoy escaping?
Who would enjoy escaping?
The guys who own the centre are very enthusiastic, and you can see they get a real thrill out of introducing people to this new concept. The two parties from each room before us came out glowing with enthusiasm. When I asked them what they thought, they replied with "brilliant" and "fantastic fun." Both those teams completed the rooms and escaped. Apparently, the success rate on Viral Outbreak is 40% of partakers completed in an hour and only 10% for Cat Burglar. One team had six adults who looked like parents with adult children and the other group were four adults in their thirties. The owners tell me they get all sorts of groups going through: corporate team builders, families, teenagers, twenty-somethings, couples. I do recommend going with at least four people. It helps to have those extra brains working on the puzzles.
Did We Escape?
Did We Escape?
And did we escape, I hear you ask? Sadly, no. We got through 85% of Viral Outbreak, but it was our first room, so we didn't really know what we were doing and spent too long second-guessing ourselves. We managed 95% of Cat Burglar and were very close to the last puzzle being solved. I wonder if we'd gone with other adults if we might have escaped, but I wouldn't have missed seeing the thrill on the kid's faces as they solved a puzzle or were looking for clues.
We are absolute fans now of this concept. It is fabulous fun and, in a way, another form of storytelling. The owners create the scenario and invent the puzzles and you really do feel as if you are inside a story. You are doing battle against their minds. The countdown clock adds that extra challenge and thrill. My family cannot wait for the next room to open. This place gets a 5 out of 5 stars from my whole family. Trust me, that is a rare event. This is definitely the ultimate entertainment experience. I'm in love with the concept and Ultimate Room Escape delivers it brilliantly.