What are escape rooms, you ask? These are rooms where you get locked up in a (usually themed) room with a group of your mates. You and your mates then try to escape, by using clues in the room, thinking creatively, intuitively, and laterally, and solving puzzles.
It is quite a bizarre idea, but escape rooms seem to be the latest craze all over the world:
- Escape rooms were #1 on TripAdvisor for attractions/things to do in London, at least until TripAdvisor decided to categorise items. Even after this, the top-rated escape rooms in London still had 2,000+ reviews
- Budapest is said to be the birthplace of escape rooms in Europe; there are said to be 60+ escape rooms in Budapest alone since the inception of the first, well-known one in 2010
- Asia is the supposed other birthplace for escape rooms; there are apparently 20+ escape rooms in Tokyo, yet another 20+ in Singapore, and too many more to count are popping up by the day
Having done a few ourselves, we think the draw comes in a few aspects:
- The sense of accomplishment you get from being able to “escape”: It is quite the thrill to finally unlock that final code and emerge into the sunlight
- Bonding and teamwork: It’s a great thing to do with your mates – you get to know them and bond closer with them – and have a ton of fun and a shared experience with them. We couldn’t stop talking about the rooms we do after every room
- It’s a transporting experience: The best rooms are immersive, making you feel like you’re in a mine control room, or an old uncle’s living room, or a bank vault, and forgetting the world outside
- It’s one of the most awesome, intellectually challenging fun that you can have within 60 minutes! (or less!)
Escape rooms in Melbourne
Melbourne is definitely not free from the craze of escape rooms; in fact, it can be argued that Melbourne is where the escape room fever started in Australia:
- The first escape room opened in April 2014: Escape Room Melbourne, by psychologists Owen Spear and girlfriend Ali Cheetham, after they got inspired by their trip in Budapest
- Shortly after, many others cropped up
- There are now 30+ escape rooms in Melbourne, including 3 more by Owen and Ali; there also now 20+ in Sydney, starting from earlier this year
We tried the original Escape Room Melbourne one weekend in August 2015. From there we were so completely hooked, we practically do one (or two) almost every weekend since.
The Melbourne escape rooms are of varying themes, breadth, and quality, however; so I thought I would dedicate a post to review the Melbourne escape rooms we’ve tried thus far.
First, a summary:
- Best for first-timers: The original Escape Room Melbourne
- Best for advanced players (5+ escape rooms): Mine Escape Room
- Best designed room theme: Da Vinci Code
- Most fun we had*: Amnesia
* There are many rooms that we thoroughly enjoyed. For whatever reason, we had the most absolute fun in this room.
Below, find a comprehensive listing and brief review for all the Melbourne escape rooms we’ve done thus far, based on the below rating factors:
- Room quality: How well the room and props are designed and executed, how immersive the room is, how thought through the theme and storyline is - and, of course, how well designed the clues/puzzles are
- Difficulty: How difficult we thought the room was to escape from, assuming no hints are involved (i.e., the higher the score, the more likely you are to need hints to escape).
- Note that this does not take into account “bad room design”, i.e., when the puzzles are easy but the clue is damaged (and you therefore can’t solve the puzzle), or the puzzle is so obscure there is no way anyone can figure it out (there is a difference between clever puzzles and obscure puzzles!)
- Overall fun/enjoyment/awesome rating: How much fun we had in the room, based on the puzzle design, overall experience, customer service, etc.
For the ratings, there are whole numbers only (i.e., 3 out of 5, not 3.5 out of 5) to avoid “score inflation”.
|Room||Room quality (out of 5)||Difficulty (out of 5)||Overall fun/ enjoyment/ awesome rating (out of 5)||Why the ratings?|
|Escape Room Melbourne @ ERM||
|Lost in Paradise @ Rush||
|Da Vinci Code @ Rush†||
|Kellar’s Magic Emporium @ ERM||
|Mission Possible @ Rush||
|Mine Escape @ ERM||
|Amnesia @ EscapeXperience‡||
|Enchanted Garden @ Strike||
|Vanished Carnivale @ Orz||
|Endless Dream @ Orz||
|Secret Invitation @ Orz†||
|Transylvania @ Trapt||
Legend (a.k.a., our credentials) (current at the time of writing):
† = We hold the official best time record here
‡ = We hold the unofficial (i.e., this room does not officially record time) best time record
Disclaimers: The above reviews and ratings are purely our opinion. While we obviously try to be as objective as possible with the rooms, your experience may vary.
Also, as you can see, we went with the supposedly “best” rooms first (i.e., the original, the highest rated on TripAdvisor, etc.). There very well may be a first-timer “wow” factor involved in the earlier rooms, so do take our thoughts with a grain of salt.
Have you tried any of Melbourne’s numerous escape rooms? Which one is your favourite?