Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Cipher Room - Espionage Review



Hi everyone!

I’m really pleased to bring you this review, which is of Sydney’s latest escape room outfit, The Cipher Room (TCR).  I first found out about TCR from other escape room owners.  My first impression from their website was that they have a very clear sense of their own style and what they want to bring to the escape room market in Sydney. 

TCR is based in Newtown and is the brainchild of Marise and David, puzzle fanatics turned escape room designers.  TCR is scheduled to officially open its first room, entitled Espionage, on Tuesday 23 August (tomorrow!). 

Marise and David kindly permitted us to play-test their room ahead of the grand opening.  My team this time was the usual team of 4 adults, together with my 4 year old daughter who spent most of the escape watching an iPad with headphones on.  This was our 30th room in Sydney and our 42nd room in Australia.

Espionage is a 1940s spy-themed room, where you take over the role of a spy from another agent who is MIA. 

As always, I’ll start off with what I liked about the room:
  • their website is first rate and I’ve yet to see a better designed escape room logo.  I think both really match their room well and their overall style;
  • the location was really easy to find.  This is one of very few escape rooms in Sydney that has a real street presence on a very busy street.  We found nearby parking easily on Bray Street (only about a 100m walk);
  • TCR’s style and theming begins when you approach their front door and window display on King Street.  They have a really cool, curiosity-inducing window display that sets the scene beautifully for what’s to follow.  Their front of house is equally mysterious, old-worldly and charming, as is their hallway that seems to go on forever, bringing the promise of many more escape room adventures in the future no doubt;
  • the theming in the room (and in fact the theming in the whole operation - the window display, front of house, etc) is the best we have seen to date in Sydney.  I won’t divulge any spoilers, but let’s just say that all of the props make sense in the space, as do the puzzle elements and the room has a real sense of identity as a result;
  • there is a really great mix of puzzles in this room.  Some are fiendishly simple; others require some out of the box thinking.  There is also a really nice mix of low and high-tech puzzles and mechanisms within the room.  Again, it’s a 1940s themed room, so the high-tech elements are completely hidden out of sight, as they should be;
  • the craftsmanship behind the puzzle pieces, the props and other aspects of the room blew us away.  You really get a sense of the vast amount of time that has been spent in designing and then creating all of the elements in this room;
  • I get asked a lot via my blog for recommendations for child-friendly rooms.  I'm pleased that I can add this one to the list.  As is often the case with my wife and I, there are many other adventurers who find it difficult to get a babysitter and instead prefer to bring their young children with them to escape rooms.  I can report that this room is not scary at all and is perfectly suitable for children of all ages.  That being said, if a team of kids (without any adults) wanted to have a go at escaping from this room, I think it would probably suit children of say 12 or older; and
  • owners Marise and David are truly enthusiastic about their business, which shows from the amount of work they have put into it.  They have set out to create a truly immersive experience and they have been very successful in that endeavour.


There's nothing to report on the negative side.  There were a couple of minor tweaks that we suggested (as part of a typical play-testing experience), but we really didn’t have much value to add on that front.

I would describe this room as a medium difficulty room.  We escaped with a bit of spare time, but we were all very engaged and challenged throughout the whole experience.  It’s a non-linear room, which really allows you to break off and solve puzzles separately.  I think this is one of the rare rooms that would suit newer players and experienced players alike.

Their website allows you to book for teams of between 2 and 6.  Based on all of the rooms I have tried in Sydney (and in other states), my view is that the best number of players for each escape room we have tried is 4 (perhaps 5 if some of the players are kids).  In order to have more players, a room needs to have adequate space for 6 bodies and enough puzzles to keep all 6 players fully engaged.  Whilst this room is no exception to my view that 4 players is the right number, this room does comfortably accommodate 6 players on all fronts.

As always, the number one factor that I consider when reviewing a room is how much fun we had.  I’m really pleased to confirm that we had a fantastic time in this room.  The whole experience was great.  Marise and David were kind enough to walk us through the room afterwards to explain the planning and craftsmanship that went on behind the scenes, the easter eggs, etc.  If only all escape room outfits were this good.

I’m really pleased that Sydney’s latest room is a great one.  I have no hesitations at all in recommending this room.  You are going to love it!


Where:                        640 King Street, Newtown

Duration:                    60 minutes

Themes:                     1 so far (but 2 others planned)

Cost:                           $152 for 4 adults (but we played at the kind invitation of the owners)

Overall Summary:      Off the charts theming with old world charm – a must do room

More details:              http://www.cipherroom.com.au/

1 comment:

  1. Hi Scott,
    We did this room recently (I'm so addicted!) and three grown women literally squealed our way through the whole thing because of each amazing discovery. I'm going to go back and bring my daughter for a rainy day. The love and care that went into this room is out of this world. My husband and I are tackling the Cabin soon (as soon as we can since it's booked out solidly on weekends). I think Marise and David are quite unique because they've taken the escape room concept and made it into a beautiful narrative.

    Thank you for the great review. It was your review that made me want to visit the Cipher Room (and put it on the top of the list). I'm now reluctant to look at other escape rooms because they might just disappoint me.

    Carol

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