Location: Fremantle, Perth
Date played: 27 December 2014
Players: 4 (Escape Hunt Perth recommends 2-5)
Hints: Unlimited (delivered via walkie-talkie)
A solid escape room experience that fits the Escape Hunt mould.
I’ll sing you a song, a song of the sea…
Off Fremantle, in the early 1900s, someone stole something. On a ship. It must leave port in an hour, and as famous detectives visiting from London, you must solve the mystery before the mooring lines are cast off and the ship heads out to sea.
The Escape Hunt franchise puts you in the shoes of local (or visiting) detectives solving a crime that happened long ago in the city you are in. Escape Hunt Perth is located in the port city of Fremantle, tucked away off the main road, affectionately known to the locals as the ‘Cappuccino Strip’, in a quiet piazza. Fremantle is as old as it gets for Perth, so there’s plenty of history to draw from in creating the theme for each room.
The approach of Escape Hunt Perth seems a little fractured at times and Robbery on the Ship Room is not an exception to this rule. As you enter the room, you are told that you must determine who committed the robbery, and in doing so you will get the final key. This approach of weaving the narrative into the escape room experience is highly appealing, however in reality, it didn’t live up to expectations. The puzzles can be completed without paying any attention to the story, so much so that when we were debriefing, one of our group asked who the robber was in the end. It’s great that there is a storyline – and many people will really enjoy reading the suspect profiles that are drip-fed throughout the experience – though we would love to see the story play a bigger role in solving puzzles.
Robbery on the Ship is a good introduction to escape rooms. The puzzles had a strong focus on analytical skills: having a whiteboard in the room was a strong sign that we’d need to carefully think our way through each clue. Escape Hunt Perth give you an hour to solve the mystery and you are likely to need every second. While there are opportunities for improvement, Robbery on the Ship is well laid-out and reveals itself in surprising ways. If you are in Perth and thinking of trying your first escape room game, book yourself in to Escape Hunt Perth.
Make sure you are wearing your thinking pants when visiting Escape Hunt Perth. While not impossible, the clues will having you analysing each word to truly understand their meaning and solving math problems on the whiteboard. Puzzles are logical and linear, but care must be taken not to spend too much time of red herrings. More care should be taken with the puzzle set-up, as one of our players unwittingly played around with some clocks that were crucial to solving one of the clues. A quick chat on the walkie-talkie helped us navigate that hurdle.
Unfortunately, while the puzzles were well themed to the storyline, the atmosphere of the room was lacking. There was faint music in the background, which we think was meant to be there to add tension, but it didn’t fit the theme at all. In a nautical location and with a ship-based theme, the game designers had a golden opportunity to put some sounds of the sea in the room: ships bells, rigging banging, waves crashing, seagulls squawking – all these sounds could be recorded around Fremantle and would have substantially added to the immersiveness of the room. As it was, if you entered the room without being told the theme, you would have had no idea you were meant to be on a ship.
The foyer had a great space to debrief after playing our game and our host was friendly and welcoming. The rooms are monitored and, it appears, actively so: at one stage we received a message over the walkie-talkie asking if we’d found particular piece of paper essential to solving a puzzle. We hadn’t. Big help in putting us back on track.
About Escape Hunt Perth
The Escape Hunt franchise is a phenomenon in itself, with rooms open in 32 cities around the world. Their website touts that they have 70 branches signed up, on track to meet their target of 250 branches by the end of 2015.
Escape Hunt Perth opened late 2014 and currently have three rooms; Murder in the Tavern, Robbery on the Ship and Escape From the Prison. Both Robbery on the Ship and Escape From the Prison both have duplicate rooms, providing the opportunity for competitive groups to play head-to-head.