Location: King Street Wharf, Sydney
Date played: 30 December 2015
Players: 6 (Exitus recommends 2-6 players)
Hints: Unlimited via an iPad app (5 minute time penalty per clue; 10 minutes per answer)
Escaped: Yes, with no hints, plus we got on the leader board!
Great room to play as a family.
Being led down the garden path…
“One night you dream of a stroll with your friends through an enchanted garden. It all seems too good to be true. And
then it dawns on you. This is not a dream. You are all trapped. You need to get out before you are trapped forever in the garden.”
When visiting family in Sydney, we decided to share our escape room obsession. Looking for an escape room suitable for young players was difficult, but with two bright sparks, we thought they would be up to the puzzle solving task. We chose to play The Garden with 4 adults and 2 children (ages 7 and 10) as Exitus‘ website indicated that this room was suitable for players of all ages.
While the room certainly started family friendly – with the room dressed nicely as a Victorian garden with astro-turf, stone walls and a picnic scene – our youngest group member soon got a bit of a fright. The brightly-lit space gave way to a darker, more spooky room, with a creepy scarecrow adorning the wall. It didn’t fit the theme, had nothing to do with the clues and only seemed to be there to scare people. For a room billed as being “suitable for players of all ages”, this addition is completely unnecessary and counter-productive.
The clues, however, were really well suited for that ‘all ages’ target audience. They weren’t too hard, nor where they too easy. All the clues were well linked to the lost-in-a-garden-with-friends theme, and some of the hiding places to be searched were really quite fun. Exitus have done a great job in pitching The Garden at the right level.
Customer service, however, was woeful. We detail more below, but to give you an idea, we spent twice as long waiting for our experience to start than we did in the room, which was very disappointing.
Overall, The Garden is a great room to play as a family. If your group doesn’t include children, though, this experience may not be challenging enough to keep you interested for long.
The Garden contained a number of interesting puzzles and some great hiding places for clues. Our group worked really well together, and without needing a hint, felt that the level of puzzles was suitable for families. The kids were gun searchers which meant they felt included in the game experience and were even able to decipher some of the puzzle riddles.
The room was not all flowers and sunshine as you might expect in a garden, so if your little one is easily scared, like one of our players was, this is important information that you should have before you book the room. While the first room was nicely dressed, the second part of the experience had a large, creepy scarecrow hanging on the wall. Not only did the scarecrow seem out of place for the storyline, combined with the dimly lit room and scary noises it meant that this part of the experience was not so ‘family friendly’. If we had known about this element, we might have waited until all members of our group were over the age of 10 years or so.
Exitus’ customer service was not much different from our first experience at their Highpoint venue in Melbourne. However, instead of waiting for 30 minutes to start our room, we were forced to wait 45 minutes as staff were busy running the other escape rooms and looking after the customers at the bar. Again, we left with the distinct impression that money making was far more important then giving customers an exceptional experience. For more on this, have a read of our review of Exitus’ Forensic room.
On a positive note, the staff were accommodating when our youngest group member did not want to wear a blind-fold to enter the room. Instead, he got to lead the group into the room and meant that his first-room anxiety was abated.
We also think it is important to warn people bringing small children into the room that there is a self-opening door which is quite hard to stop if you happen to be standing behind it: our littlest player nearly got squished as it sprung open.
About Exitus (formerly Escapism)
Exitus is Strike Bowling’s take on the escape room genre, offering this new form of entertainment at their Watergarden (Brisbane), King Street Wharf (Sydney), Highpoint (Melbourne) and QV (Melbourne) venues. Each venue runs three of five scenarios – Da Vinci, Injustice, Butcher’s Burrow, The Garden and Forensic – with rooms on offer at a ‘per group’ basis rather than ‘per player’, providing outstanding value if you have the maximum of six to split costs with.
Strike Bowling purchased Exitus in September 2015, closing their Port Melbourne venue and incorporating their themes at existing ‘Escapism’ venues. In February 2016, the take-over was completed with a name change, with Escapism being retired and Exitus living once more.