Evade Reality in One of Melbourne's Escape Rooms

July 2nd, 2015, 9pm

It was 7°C with scattered clouds. The breeze was gentle.

They put you in a dark room, might even handcuff you, lock the door, and start the clock. That’s it. You have an hour to escape, or else …

A little over a year ago no one suspected that escape-rooms were going to become the next big thing. Hell, that new craze is easily comparable to paintball in the 90’s. Come to think of it, solving puzzles in order to get out of a room you’re stuck in doesn’t sound so appealing at first. I mean, where’s the fun in that. But in the age of the Internet, being able to test yourself and share it with your friends, and in turn compare results to theirs is what draws people there. Well, that, and the crazy awesome scenarios the creators came up with.

Basically, each room revolves around a certain story, a scenario, or a phobia. Call it whatever you like, but the idea is the same – use the clues left in the room, solve the puzzles, and escape the room. If you’re into the whole escape-room idea, here are a few suggestions in Melbourne for you.

#1 Escape Room

To the unsuspecting bystander, this house in suburban Flemington looks just as any other regular house around. But there’s more to it. There’s an escape-room somewhere inside. The man behind the escape-project – Owen Spear meets me and my buddies in front of the house.

He walks us through the house and takes us to the garden, where he hands us a walkie and points to a very suspicious-looking door. Now the whole thing looks very fishy to me. A house in suburbia, a strange, locked door, and dark room. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought that this was a horror movie. But that’s part of the whole experience. So I and my friends gather our wits and walk into the room.

We walk in there and it’s pitch black. We hear cello-music and catch a glimpse of what’s around us. There’s a letter on the table – the first clue. It says that in order to get back to reality, we have to solve the series of puzzles that await us. So we begin.

Once you really get in, you start feeling the vibe of the place. You get excited, your palms are sweating, you start whispering. Soon the very notion of time loses its meaning and you’re totally consumed by what’s in front of you. The hints you need to escape are all around you and yet, they are nowhere. It’s like every item is where it’s supposed to be, but when you look closer, you see clues, hidden inside all objects around you.

#2 Mine Escape

I and my team liked the first room so much that we decided to check out the second creation of puzzle-master Owen Spear. So we went to the second location - a converted factory where Owen and his girlfriend and fellow puzzle-master Ali Cheetham meet us. Now that I know that I won’t be dragged into a room by a serial killer and left inside, I feel a bit calmer. They lead us into the factory, through a dark corridor and we stop in front of the escape-room. Owen hands us a walkie again and says he’ll be watching.

Now the door closes behind us we see we’re in the control room of a mine. An old, yellow piece of paper on the table says there’s a blockage in the mine and there might be people stuck inside. Our goal - locate the fault and save ourselves. I won’t tell you anything about the puzzles there because I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Visiting the Mine Escape room is a must!

#3 Escape Room Australia

On to the next challenge - Escape Room Australia. It is located in the Melbourne’s CBD mall so going there you’re not feeling as if you’re going to your own funeral, which is kind of nice. The friendly staff invites us to choose the room we’ll be escaping (or rather, try to escape from). There are six rooms in total but as soon as I caught a glimpse of the Vampire Lair I was sold.

So in the monster’s den we go. Dim lighting, a décor in black, red, and purple, bookshelves, and paintings. Mind you, it’s not like those modern sparkly vampire houses we see on the big screen nowadays. This escape-room is old school horror movie hardcore. We’ve barely entered the room and we’re already shaking. Fantastic! The space is so small you could barely move. Then we see a small gap behind the bookshelf and we all push through it. From here on out it’s one surprise after another, until we’re out.

#4 Exitus

Exitus is another place where you can find a lot of escape-room choices. And the scenarios are thrilling - Prison Break, Casino Heist, Entombed (you find an ancient pyramid with an enchanted tomb - that made it really hard for us to decide where to go), Apollo Mission, and CSI Melbourne (we went for the CSI because who doesn’t like that).

So we get in the CSI room. Bright light, lots of it, and a lab. Okay. Then we see the body laying on a stretcher. That’s when it gets real. It’s fellow detective. It appears that he was working a case, found out the smoking gun and turned up dead. The scenario says that if we don’t find out who did it in 45 minutes, we’ll end up on the stretchers ourselves.

We better get down to it then …

#5 Escapism

The last room we visited was in “Strike” bowling bar. You have three options there - Butcher’s Burrow, Forensics, and last but not least - the Garden Room. Since this was the last escape-room we visited, we decided for the Garden Room. Enough with the murder scenarios, vampire dens, slaughter houses, and all the blood. It’s time for something less stressful.

And then we get in … Needless to say, things are not as straightforward as they seem. There’s something weird about that garden, something that’s not right. Everything is so neat and tidy, it’s like a team of house cleaners made a run through it. Yet there’s something that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. The scenario says we’re just dreaming about a walk in an enchanted garden, but actually we’re all awake. The only way to get out of the garden is to solve the puzzles left for us by a bunch of kids. That last part sounds a bit like escaping would be a child’s play, but that’s as far away from the truth as it can be.

Share this moment

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook