Location: Melbourne CBD
Date played: 2 November 2014
Players: 2 (2-8 recommended)
Hints: Maximum of 3 (and we used them all)
Escaped: Not even close!
Exotic jungle theme let down by nearly-impossible puzzles.
Feeling like the Tomb Raider…
Blind-folded, holding only torches, we imagined ourselves to be puzzle-hunting Tomb Raiders on the quest to find the secret treasure, and were transported to the jungle with some clever room theming.
Our feet crunched on astroturf, standing in a small clearing surrounded by jungle vines. Cicadas chirped, insects buzzed, moonlight softly filtered through the canopy above. We have come for secret treasure, and secret treasure we will find.
Or will we? Sadly, the great jungle atmosphere was let down immediately by nigh-impossible puzzles. We asked for help after wasting 15 minutes on the first clue, and were stunned by how illogical the solution to the puzzle was and the scope for it to go horribly wrong.
Undeterred, we pressed on, and quickly hit many more hurdles. With our 45 minutes rapidly evaporating, we cashed our remaining hint, got stuck again and never recovered. Game over.
Our host walked us through the remaining puzzles, and it quickly became apparent we were nowhere near the end. Some of the puzzles later on looked quite fun, interesting, and tantalisingly solvable. It made us wish we’d asked for help sooner so we would have had a chance of making it that far.
As a parting gift we also received a printed photo of our escape team donned in funny props to help us remember our failure to escape. The ‘failed’ wall was bursting at the seams with similar photos, so we were among good company.
Escape Room Australia gives this room a difficulty rating of 5, making it the most difficult of the six available rooms to play. Granted, we might have set our sights too high with the difficulty of the room, however there was nothing within the room that helps guide the participants to puzzle solutions. We were frustrated to say the least with the logic (or lack there of) behind solving some of the puzzles. A well hidden hint or a clue to decipher would not have gone astray.
Escape Room Australia also recommends that rooms can be played with up to 8 people, however we question what the quality of the experience would be for all of the 8 players. While 8 heads might be better than 2 in coming up with solutions, the puzzles need to be solved sequentially, often with only 1 or 2 people needing to be hands on, meaning that the majority of your treasure-hunting team would be left standing in the shadows.
Some key puzzle props were also showing signs of wear: after receiving a strong hint on how to decipher the first clue, we were left with the “clue” rubbed off on our hands. Without regular maintenance this first clue will fast become impossible rather than just ridiculously difficult.
The room was well themed, and we were thankful for the lack of mosquitoes and snakes that a true jungle would be hiding. Sound effects and dappled lighting added to the ambience.
Our host was welcoming, happy to answer our questions and ran through the rest of our room once our time was up. During our escape room we were also allowed a maximum of 3 hints (yes, we used them all and still didn’t manage to escape) and due to the nature of the puzzle, our host had to explain the answers in detail and help us to solve the puzzle.
Hints were accessed via a doorbell and although the rooms had cameras in them, they weren’t actively monitored. This means you have to explain where you are stuck to the staff member when they walk in the door and the lack of two-way communication devices means they cannot and do not jump in to keep you on the right path.
Disappointingly, at the end of our experience, our host explained that they have had similar feedback to ours from other participants and were considering closing the room if they could not modify some of the puzzles. As not all of their rooms were booked out, if we had known about the problems they were encountering with the room before we started, we may have changed to another room where we might have had more success and a better experience.
Want more from Escape Room Australia? Check out our review of Gallery – The Insidious Art Thief.
About Escape Room Australia
Escape Room Australia is a franchise of Escape Room International which currently has escape rooms in Australia, Malaysia, United Kingdom and Vietnam, with a promise of rooms coming soon to India, Indonesia, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates. Escape Room Australia opened in August 2014 and currently has six rooms for you to try: Safari Jungle, The Vampire Chronicles, Gallery – The Insidious Art Thief, Slaughter House, Prison Break and The Mummy.
Escape Room Australia – Interactive Games Australia Pty Ltd
Shop 9 & 10, Level 1, Paramount Mall, 108 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000