Location: The Rocks, Sydney
Date played: 29 December 2015
Players: 2 (Paniq Room recommends 2-6)
Hints: Unlimited via sound system
An excellent escape room that messes with your mind – and not just because of the puzzles.
Sharpen your senses…
“You enter the mysterious house of a famous magician, in search of his lost secrets. As you continue through the rooms of the house, the doors close behind you and there doesn’t seem to be a way back. Is the magician still around? Don’t let yourself be tricked or let him screw with your mind. You need to overcome the magician’s tricks and escape using your senses. You may lose your sense of time, but remember that you only have 60 minutes to get out! If you don’t, the magician will be stuck in your mind forever.”
Paniq Room have a penchant for some amazingly immersive rooms that match the overarching theme, and with Sen3es they have taken this art form to a new level.
Opened in December 2015, this room takes players through different yet utterly enveloping spaces, cleverly playing off the overarching theme of a disorientating magician’s house that pushes you to rely on three of your senses to get you through.
And rely on them you will. The transitions between spaces are not surprising in their location, but confronting when you move across the threshold. We don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say you will find yourself wondering what you have gotten yourself into.
The puzzles used are quite clever, logical and not too challenging, however there are plenty of red herrings to get you sidetracked. In terms of quantity it doesn’t quite measure up to the frantic puzzle-solving challenge that awaits you in the Bunker, but it more than makes up for it in complexity and physical location.
Paniq Room have created a strong atmosphere, though have done so with the complete absence of background noises. As a general rule, background sounds (and that doesn’t just refer to music) add another layer to the setting, but in this case we didn’t mind as much that it was missing. The physical surrounding built enough atmosphere for sounds to not be needed as much. That being said, some type of scene-setting sounds would aid in building the atmosphere and assist with the story.
Clue delivery is one mechanism Paniq Room have previously used to help create an immersive atmosphere (Bunker uses an old-style phone, while Supercell 117 has clues delivered on paper via a dumbwaiter). For Sen3es, the game master intervenes when necessary via an omnipresent voice and can be summoned by just asking the room for help. While it isn’t a particular innovative clue deliver platform, it does the job and could be argued that it fits the theme.
Sen3es‘ strength really comes from the physical space you are an in and the way they over- or under-stimulate your senses. It easy to feel overwhelmed at times, but as you make sense from the sensory ‘noise’, things fall into place. Some escape rooms are overwhelming because you don’t know where to begin or there’s so much stuff to search through, but this room is… different. Once you get past that sensory overload, you can tackle the next challenge in the room: the puzzles. And there’s not too many venues that put things that way.
Paniq Room have assembled a great array of puzzles, with various mental, physical, auditory, tactile and visual elements. We wouldn’t say that most of the puzzles related to the overarching story, though, as we commented “oh, that’s right, this is a magician’s house” when we were heading into the home straight.
The variety in both methods and complexity of puzzles made for a really enjoyable experience. At times there were oodles of places for clues to be hidden, while in others you were hoping you’d find something soon. This room isn’t simply a chain of puzzles, it is a journey that has puzzle styles that closely reflect the space in which it is found. Well done to the designers for making such a well thought-out room.
While the premise behind the room is that three of your senses will be tested, given the theme, we think that with a couple of additional puzzles using smell or taste (although we are yet to see a puzzle that uses taste), Paniq Room could stretch people’s senses to the limit.
Interestingly, we solved one of the puzzles out of order, completely by mistake – that’s just how we roll. If our game master hadn’t been on his game, we could have spent a long time trying to re-solve a puzzle we had already solved, and getting frustrated in the process.
As mentioned, it is the atmosphere created in the room’s spaces that adds to the immersive game play, and while it might take you by surprise, it just adds to the overall experience and it’s what makes Sen3es such as great room.
We also mentioned that there were no soundtrack to this room. Music probably wouldn’t fit, but sound effects wouldn’t go astray, and something to remind you that you’re stuck in an old house would add that little bit extra.
One thing we really like about Paniq Room is that they have a dedicated game master per room, meaning that you get their full attention throughout your visit, and if you get stuck at any point they are not far off with a helping hand. As always, our game master was super friendly and delivered gentle nudges in the right direction when our searching skills hadn’t quite gotten us to where we needed to be in the game play.
**Akos and Martina from Paniq Room contacted us after we posted our review to say the room now has sound effects and another ‘sense’ puzzle – shows how rooms evolve from the first week!**
***Disclaimer: Our room fee for Sen3es was refunded after our visit, and as such, this room was played for free. This has not impacted our review and Paniq Room had no input in its creation.***
About Paniq Room
Paniq Room opened their Hungarian doors in 2012, and have since spread to the US and Australia. Paniq Room in Sydney has been part of the family since January 2015, and has a strong local flavour. Located in The Rocks tourist precinct of Sydney, Paniq Room offers three experiences, Abandoned Military Bunker on the Rocks, Supercell 117 and Sen3es.