Orz Escape review: The Vanished Carnivale

orzIn brief

Location: Melbourne CBD
Date played: 2 May 2015
Players: 2 (Orz Escape recommends a 3-6; 2 minimum)
Hints: Unlimited (time added to your final score for the first 2 clues)
Escaped: Yes!

Our rating: Review 4 locks
Innovative, engaging and captivating: a great escape room to vanish into.


Bring in the clowns…

Painting of a clown
Caution: clowns ahead (by jackmac34/CC0 1.0)

A famous carnival of travelling clowns comes to town. They are widely acclaimed, but the show cannot go on: some is making the star performers vanish.

We headed back to Orz Escape nearly four months after giving Endless Dream a crack, and were very pleasantly surprised by The Vanished Carnivale. In our first review, we wrote that while the puzzles were challenging, they could have better fit the story of the theme, and the game masters have delivered. We got to chat with co-owner and game designer Eric Tse after we finished the room and found out he was keen to better weave the storyline into the escape room experience. Eric and the team at Orz Escape hit the nail on the head.

The Vanished Carnivale is one room you should NOT play if you are afraid of clowns. It’s not that things jump out at you (we’re yet to have one of those rooms, thankfully), it’s just that clowns feature quite heavily and, to be frank, can be a little creepy. It certainly adds to the overall atmosphere, but if you suffer from coulrophobia, maybe give this room a miss.

Orz Escape had only launched The Vanished Carnivale a week or so before we played the room, and were naturally still working through a few hiccups. We had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the challenges laid before us, and it will have only gotten better since.

The breakdown

Escape Room Hunters @ Orz Escape
Escape Room Hunters @ Orz Escape

Puzzles: Review 4 and a half locks

Orz Escape have created a solid room with a host of puzzles in many different shapes and sizes. In Endless Dream there was a strong mathematics/analytical slant, whereas The Vanished Carnivale has much more of a mix. We think this is really good – if you struggle through one puzzle, you may succeed incredibly well at the following one.

We also liked that puzzles were quite interactive instead of being static. It’s nice to play an active role in solving puzzles rather than observing your surroundings and inputting results into a combination lock.

Being a new room, there were a couple of teething issues. For example, the second section of the first puzzle (resulting in our freedom) didn’t deploy as hoped, so it soaked a good five minutes and required a call for help to have it pointed out to us. No doubt these small issues will have been ironed out.

Atmosphere: Review 4 locks

Once you get started, The Vanished Carnivale transforms from a dark, dingy room into a colourful, musical and creepy sideshow (don’t say we didn’t warn you about the clowns). The room is furnished well, with many props and decorations relating to puzzles you’ll need to solve.

Before we entered the room we were told not to stand too close to certain doors and railings. Orz Escape have set up shop in a rather old and rickety building, so it’s probably just precautionary, but it meant that we were a bit hesitant about when we should and shouldn’t have moved towards other spaces and how far we should go. There probably isn’t much Orz can do to fix that, but it did detract a little bit from the room.

Customer service: Review 4 locks

Staff at Orz Escape are super friendly and our experience was no different. As a new room, they were only taking phone bookings and gladly slotted us in. They still needed a bit of time to finish resetting the room when we arrived, so got us warming up on some starter puzzles. Nice touch!

The only thing we would suggest is giving players a heads up that their movement will be a little, uh, restricted at the start of the game. That came a bit out of left-field and wasn’t something we’d experienced before, so some warning would be nice.

Want more from Orz Escape? Check out our review of Endless Dream.


About Orz Escape

You have 45 minutes to escape each of the 3 escape rooms available at Orz EscapeThe Vanished Carnivale, Endless Dream and Secret Invitation (Slaughterhouse was retired to make way for Vanished Carnivale). The Orz Escape website recommends you complete The Vanished Carnivale and Endless Dream before attempting their hardest room, Secret Invitation, and suggest you bring along at least 2 friends. Although you have unlimited clues, extra minutes are added to your completion time, if you are feeling competitive.

Orz Escape
Level 3, 180 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 (above Hungry Jack’s)
W: www.orzescape.com.au
F: www.facebook.com/orzescapemelbourne

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