Last weekend we teamed up with members of the AD Gamers FaceBook group to tackle the EXITUS Escape Room Experience – a dynamic and highly interactive event where groups are required to solve various in order to escape rooms within a specified time limit. Wary after our poor Oz Apocalypse Zombie Experience we remained hopeful that, this time, the experience would live up to the hype!
Located in Port Melbourne, EXITUS was the first Australian venue to provide the escape room experience. Following the popular international escape room model EXITUS provides five uniquely styled escape rooms – each themed to provide a distinct story and experience. esigned to accommodate 2-8 players, the rooms are as follows:
Prison Break – Handcuffed together you have 45 minutes to escape your prison before the guards return for
the next headcount.
Casino Heist – Working as a crew of professional criminals you must follow the tips and clues to break into a casino,
steal the loot and escape before the cops arrive.
Entombed – Cursed by an ancient Pharaoh you have 45 minutes to locate the item that will break your curse and
free you from eternal servitude.
Apollo Mission – Trapped in a malfunctioning spaceship on the moon you have 45 minutes to repair the systems
and restore life support.
CSI Melbourne – The detective working a not-so-typical murder case has turned up dead. You’ve taken on the
investigation but have only 45 minutes to solve the case before you become the next victims!
Experiences are booked in advance as rooms are designed to accommodate one group of players at a time. With our group of seven, I was concerned that the large number of people may be detrimental to the experience so, following staff advice, I chose the Apollo Mission and Prison Break rooms. I found the concepts of Entombed and Casino Heist the most appealing but, as they all looked interesting, I was happy to take their suggestion. In practice, Prison Break felt better suited to our large group than Apollo Mission, which I felt would be better for a smaller group (around 5 people). Prison Break accommodated group problem solving really well, as there were many clues to hunt for and plenty of puzzles to solve. This made it possible to split into smaller groups and work on several areas at once. The Apollo Mission was more linear requiring the entire group to work together on a single problem before progressing. This mostly worked well however I did notice a couple of occasions when group members were “sitting out” because there wasn’t enough to do.
That said, this wasn’t the norm for our experience and, even when not working directly with the group, team members could investigate the area and look for other clues. It was surprising how well the rooms accommodated teamwork, and how quickly we were able to solve problems as a result. The Prison Break room offered additional challenge by providing unnecessary or misleading items. There were quite a few things in the room we initially thought important, but which turned out to be simply props that had no impact on our goal. Apollo Mission, on the other hand, didn’t have anything like this. We were in a darkened room with torches for the most part so, in hindsight, I suppose it made sense that you wouldn’t want people to have too much distracting you from your goals. This did mean we spent more time working on the problems rather than figuring out what the problems were though.
For the most part, the problems devolved into various types of logic puzzles which were used to unlock combination locks – however the means for ascertaining the solutions were varied and interesting. Each room was divided into three sections, separated by locked doors, and puzzles preventing progression required a combination of logic and observation to solve. I’m not going to go into the detail of the puzzles, as that would spoil the experience but, if you’ve played games like Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, then the rooms could be likened to that kind of game (but without the threat of actual death if you fail). All were mentally, not physically, challenging – unless you consider opening a drawer strenuous – and all solutions were logical. Rooms were surprisingly well balanced. As we progressed, we learnt which team members were good at which problems and were able to split the workload well to escape.
Upon entering an escape room you’re given an iPad which acts as both your timer and hint system. The iPad plays a brief audio introduction explaining your circumstance then the escape begins. If you feel that you’re unable to progress, the iPad provides a contextual hint system which can prove beneficial if you’re really stumped. You should use them sparingly though as each hint comes with a 5 minute penalty (added at the end). This is especially detrimental if you’re hoping to make the leaderboard in the lobby.
The venue looked ok. Props were used to make each room feel realistic however the painted, wood walls left you fully aware that you were on a “set”. It would have been nice to have a facade over the wooden walls so we actually felt like we were in a prison cell, or a spaceship. That said, the layout of the rooms was well designed with decent utilisation of props as an integral problem solving mechanism – which, of course, is what this experience is all about!
But what did our team think of the experience?
Enjoyable and recommended experience with a good amount of random clues to keep you wondering where and what to pay attention to. On the whole I enjoyed both Escape Room scenarios though I personally felt that Prison Break had a more fitting setting than Apollo Mission. In a slightly surprising decision Apollo Mission felt a little like a 1960’s Sci Fi TV series set at best and, where the Prison scenario used electronic keypads, the Apollo Mission had seemingly archaic combination locks for progression.
Exitus was a lot of fun. Having seen photos of other Escape Room facilities, I found the presentation a little underwhelming but the Escape itself a lot of fun. I thought the puzzles were impressively well-designed. Nothing quite beats the feeling of satisfaction you get when you solve a particularly tough part of a puzzle, and hear the cheers of friends herald your keen sense of logic and general cleverness.
I really enjoyed the two rooms that we did. I thought the puzzles were well thought out and varied enough to keep it interesting. Once we were led into the first room I thought 45 minutes would be more than enough time to get out but there’s plenty of road blocks to eat away at your time and leave you in a small panic as you’re trying to get the last door open while those last few precious minutes are ticking away.
I love logic puzzles and these all felt varied and interesting. Definitely a great group experience. Working with friends to resolve logic puzzles was surprisingly enjoyable and satisfying. Would be cool if they you work the iPad more into resolution/progression of the escape rooms. I.e. scan the room using the iPad (AR) or have additional audible story elements delivered as you progress. That’s not a criticism of what they did – just a thought I had about what they could do next.
10 out of 10 – would escape again.
Upon completing your escape you have the opportunity to don some props and pose for a photo. If you were fast enough to make the lobby leaderboard (top 5 escape times after penalties) you get to post your times on the public board. Fancy trying to beat our times? Here’s how the Another Dungeon team fared in our experience:
Prison Break – 30 minutes, 41 seconds (no penalty)
Apollo Mission – 44 minutes, 1 second (includes a 5 minute penalty for 1 hint)
All in all, the EXITUS Escape Room Experience was extremely enjoyable. Priced at $35 AUD per person per room I felt it was fair value for money and was something I’d be keen to experience again – although, obviously, in different rooms to the ones we’d already solved. I’d definitely recommend this to any group looking for a fun intellectual challenge.
If this sounds like something you’d like to experience yourself, be sure to check out their website where you can get detailed information about the venue, their rooms, and their pricing. They also do corporate team building events so maybe you can write it off as a work expense 😉