Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe to my articles. I'll update you with lots of fun and often free adventures in your home town.
I wasn't allowed the one phone call that felons normally receive not that I had anyone to call in any case, as my nearest and dearest were locked up with me.
You may have guessed my whereabouts. I was in one of those escape room. The latest craze that has swept down through Asia and is now taking over Australia.
It is better than a night out at the movies or dinner out with friends as it really draws your chosen group together.
These rooms are about playing a game but not one for the faint-hearted. The idea is that you are locked in a room and the only way out is though your group's combined brain power. And while brawn might be tempting at some point, such as knocking the door down, the reality is that you have to use skills such as puzzle solving, emotional intelligence, and teamwork.
So late on a Friday night the five of us headed up to Orz Escape Room, three floors above Hungry Jacks at 180 Bourke Street.
Stepping out of the small lift (that was an escape in itself) we were met by the flamboyant Jimmy Wong and co-partner Eric Tse who seemed tall, intelligent and caring. Both were gorgeously friendly and reassuring.
But there is another side to them or they wouldn't be in this business. After experiencing one of their rooms I would also say they are crafty and devious. They know you wouldn't have much fun if you got out in five minutes and so they have been put on earth to create games that will baffle and confound you.
So tip number one. Don't let the smiles lull you into a false sense of security.
Suggestion 1- Be similarly friendly but have an ace up your sleeve. Don't whatever you do tell them too much about yourself. Don't act too cocky or too bright. The less they know of you in the scheme of things the more chance you have of your group escaping.
Eric Tse with a half-smile probably because he knows what we will be in for in the next few minutes
Because in the end you are playing a game one that they invented. You are working against the clock and pitting your intelligence against a set of puzzles. But then again these gamers have invented this game, this scenario, this escape situation and you are using your creative genius against their creation.
So beware the evil genius.
But like all occasions where someone is detained there are good cops and their are bad cops. The lovely Nicole is our good cop. She's sweet, friendly and gorgeous and seems to have been put on Orz to ensure we have an angel looking over us.
No escape and a long way down - source Facebook Orz
First things first. Lovers of escape rooms will know this already but those who are newbies, such as myself, will want it pointed out. You are safe at all times. The escape key is in reach if you ever get desperate. Although, of course, that would mean complete defeat, and Jimmy and Eric winning, but it is reassuring to know that it is there just the same.
You are also monitored at all times through a CCTV camera and you can ask for help at any time. Unless you are obstinate like us!
We were cocky and sure and asked to do the hardest room called The Secret Invitation that only has a success rate of 5%. A mistake perhaps in retrospect but then again it prolonged our fun as we were in there baffled and confused for two hours. Most newbies opt for the easier rooms that take 45 mintues to an hour such as Vanished Carnival (success rate 52%) and Endless Dream (26%).
Before we started Jimmy gave us our instructions and we picked a colour that showed us the order in which we would be lead into the room.
I wish, I wish, I wish I had listened and looked more carefully when he did this. But I was too nervous to fully concentrate.
Another tip, do read the sheet you sign before you begin. It might help you to avoid a situation I know I would not have been comfortable with. Although those in my group who did end up in that situation were perfectly fine and said it was nothing to worry about.
This I gather is the Mother of all Rooms. It might well be the hardest escape room in Melbourne.
The room is done up like a mysterious lab (but this really means just a few test tubes drawn on the wall) but there were no real props to overturn in our search for clues. Instead it was more like being in an Egyptian pharaoh's tomb (thankfully the Egyptians had large tombs) and there were all kinds of cryptic puzzles on the walls. These seemed like hieroglyphics to begin with but gradually we started to get inside the creator's devious minds and each puzzle solved helped us with the next combination for the next lock. In terms of locks it was Houdini's heaven.
My great tip would be to stop trying to be individually smart and too cooperate with each other. And the sooner you do this the less time it will take. to get out. Even when you feel you can't physically cooperate with someone there are ways! Just use your noggin.
From here I don't want to tell you anything else about this room so I have deliberately left out all the vital information, the shocks and surprises. Because you really HAVE to experience this room for yourself.
I can help you out however with a bit of knowledge of the kinds of people you need in your group. It probably helps if you have people who are good at puzzles (derr!), someone who doesn't mind a bit of maths and someone who can deduce patterns in sets of information.
It would also be highly advantageous not to bring someone who farts in tight places. We were not so lucky but fortunately he had other skills that helped us get out as well as providing us with a few laughs.
We were in there for almost two hours. I think Jimmy and Eric probably had a better offer for a Friday night and left expecting to let us out the following morning. But Nicole never wavered in her devotion to our group.
We were obstinate and never officially asked for help. I think when it got to much, for even her angel like patience, she came in and dropped the occasional clue.
We did conquer the room and we did emerge victorious to once again stand among the living under the glare of a real electric light.
We have proof we did it. We have our victory shots.
Others are less fortunate. but apparently still have a lot of fun trying
Like magicians it looks like Jimmy and Eric have other sneaky stuff, up their sleeves, coming up in August. They are designing (plotting?) a new game mode. It brings the concept of a table boardgame to life with a new story line and involves players in all three rooms. This is a special game mode they will be running on an occasional basis only. If you are interested you should keep an eye on their Facebook.
I leave you with something to puzzle over. It was on the door. They promised the puzzles inside the room would not be this hard.