Put bluntly, doing life is hectic. Most times, you just want to escape but it just isn't realistic. At best, we try to forget the busyness and the mundane with mindfulness and a drink or five, but there are few experiences or activities that really make you lose your sense of reality.
Let me present to you - a virtual reality escape room, where you take a deep dive into another realm for a whole 60 minutes. Or much shorter, if your skill level exceeds mine. It offers more than the confines of a physical escape room, where you are bound by four walls. Here in the virtual world, your landscape is vast and your skills are limitless.
I am here at Glowing Rooms, trying out their newest addition to their suite of entertainment activities. Glowing Rooms is an amusement centre situated at 1 Emplacement Crescent, Hamilton Hill WA 6163. As we make our way towards the open gameplay area with an open and excited mind, ready to absorb what is to be an engaging and immersive experience, a wave of laughter echoes through the place from the group of 6 people already in game. Eclectic artwork graces the walls with clever and intricate details while stunning, vibrant neon colours flood the entire room.
I make my way to check in and meet Ben, the director of Glowing Rooms. Humble and hospitable, he proudly leads me to their thematic function rooms to show off the brilliant murals and motifs that don the walls as well as the tables, which have been lovingly handmade by Ben himself. The colours are other-worldly and there is no choice but to be sufficiently wowed and impressed by the amount of effort and time it must have taken to create such an awesome space. This whole place is perfectly Instagram-worthy and every turn serves as fantastic picture backdrops, but it's really designed to be taken in with the eyes and in person. It's a feast for your senses.
We begin with a tutorial video on a small television screen on the wall to explain the controls and movement within the game. Each player gets a designated space in the play area so you never collide with anybody else physically, but I enjoyed invading my husband's personal space in the game a bit too much and a bit too often.
So engrossing. I probably had no idea what I was doing.
You are kitted up with the headgear/goggles and given two controllers which become your hands in game. Upon hearing 'VR goggles', many people conjure up the thought of uncomfortable and bulky goggles but these aren't. Don't worry if you didn't pay attention/forgot/didn't hear any of the instructions in the introductory video, because you are transported to a museum-like character selection room to familiarise yourself with the controls before your actual escape room starts. Me being my dopey self, picked up a character thinking it was an artefact to play with, which then became my avatar for the rest of the game.
Once you're in the virtual world you have chosen, go ahead and immerse yourself in it. Look up, down and all around as it is a true 360-degree experience. I look down at my body and see some toned legs and hands clearly not mine, but are mine for the next 60 minutes. It feels very Jumanji-esque and you're the star of the movie, except you have unlimited lives to waste here. My husband definitely needed some extra lives, with his deep-seated fear of heights and needing to climb across a canyon, legs dangling and all. He told me that he actually got sweaty palms and he didn't even look down.
The capabilities of the VR technology are brilliant no glitchy movements, just seamless ones. You are completely immersed in the 3D world with clear graphics and surround sound. It's so realistic that it's captured the height difference between my husband and I and is reflected in our game characters. As you adventure through, there is always a watchful game master who is there to remind you to step back or provide a small hint if you don't progress. Helpful, but never intrusive.
This is a great team-building activity because of the communication, cooperation and teamwork required to solve puzzles and reach the next step. I got so lost in the moment that it didn't even feel like the 53 minutes we took to reach victory. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I already would have. The game ends with some selfie opportunities to remember your experience by. It's intuitive and easy to play and is a family-friendly activity, however, is only available to be played by ages 14 and above. I've already decided to bring my 72-year-old old man here; it's a blast for all.
Currently, there are four VR escape rooms to choose from, ranging in difficulty from moderate to expert. The themed options are: Escape the Lost Pyramid, Beyond Medusa's Gate,
Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time, and
Huxley: Save the Future.
All four escape rooms are designed for a multiplayer experience but either in groups of 2, 4 or 6 players, costing $48 per person. There is ample free parking and remember to arrive and check in 15 minutes earlier than your booking time for the preparation and orientation process. Book into the experience here.
Their opening hours are: Tues Thurs: 2pm 9pm
Friday: 2pm 10pm
Saturday: 10am 10pm
Sunday: 10am 9pm
School holidays: Open from 10am weekdays (including Mondays)
Public holidays: 10am 6pm
Visit the Glowing Rooms website to check out pictures and their other attraction, 3D Mini Golf and follow their Facebook for giveaways. I asked what the fastest escape time on their leaderboard was, which currently sits at under 30 minutes. I won't be able to beat that, but perhaps you can.