Date completed: Jan 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 9.
- Fluent English.
- 2-5 players (we would recommend 3-4). Probably more suited to ages 16+.
Note: This review was written back when Riddle Room had its humble beginnings in a garage in Franklin. Their success has mean that they’ve relocated to a venue in Mitchell (north side Canberra) in November 2016.
The premise of The Nightmare Room, Canberra’s brand new and first escape room, may remind you of movies such as The Cell and Inception.
DreamWake Corp. developed a new technology which can transfer a conscious mind into another’s subconscious. You are volunteers to enter the mind of a comatose patient, Casey, who´s been stuck inside a nightmare.
You have to find the cause of those nightmares and get her out in one hour, or your own connection to the real world will be lost. And geez, once you see her nightmares, you do not want to be stuck there. No, no.
After a well publicised but unsuccessful crowd sourcing effort to set this place up, Chris and Jesse (the gamemasters) have nevertheless persevered to build a very high quality escape room that will be enjoyable for escape room rookies and veterans alike.
It’s hard to describe how happy we were when Riddle Room opened. For the first time, we didn’t need to travel for 3 hours or more to get to an escape room! Riddle Room is located in Canberra’s north and it took us a few minutes to find the right place among all the houses. But don’t let the ‘backyard’ exterior of the place fool you into underestimating The Nightmare Room.
It all starts when you are blindfolded and taken into Casey’s nightmare. I (Pa) took off my fold to get out of the dark and, well, I didn’t. I was locked in some sort of tiny dark room where I couldn’t see anything, only feel my way around. I could also hear Trapspringer and talk to him, and we soon started working together to get me out. But I admit that those minutes stuck in pitch dark, with only strange sounds around me, were quite creepy.
The choice of background noises, decor, limited light and isolation succeded in creating an unnerving atmosphere for us as we finally started searching for the clues side by side.
Although the space in The Nightmare Room is small, there are plenty of creative puzzles that require different types of logic and senses. Communication between teammates is key. Some ‘locks’ aren’t obvious and Riddle Room has made very good use of technology to enhance the setting. The creepy atmosphere also served to increase the difficulty of the problem solving process, as sudden low noises would often make one of us (me :P) jump. However, the design of The Nightmare Room is very slick and flows very well. We did not feel overwhelmed but the tension was well maintained.
Riddle Room’s excellent use of atmosphere also meant that the linear structure of The Nightmare Room was never an issue. We were engrossed by the setting and and kept thinking feverishly to solve puzzles which did not fit ‘the common mold’. They were not super hard, but demand thinking. If you pay attention to everything you find, you should be fine.
57 minutes after entry, we emerged from Casey’s twisted mind, very glad to have gone through this excellent experience.
Those looking to set up escape rooms in Canberra have a very high benchmark to measure themselves against! We surely recommend this place and will come back if new rooms are up.
Out of the room
Service: Chris and Jesse were extremely friendly, professional, and provided high quality debriefs for us after we finished. These guys have set up a system which measures how quickly players breakthrough the different puzzles. They were able to provide a very clinical explanation of where we got stuck and where we did well.
There are lockers for personal belongings and they provided drinks for us before we left. Kudos for the ‘third staff member’, Dexter the dog. Cutest thing ever.
As the area is mainly residential, there aren’t obvious places to eat around. But a short drive (10 min) can take you to the city centre.
Communication: We were monitored at all times throughout the game and Riddle Room provided hints through speakers around us. The sound quality of the speaker system was very good and the voice of the gamemaster fit the creepy setting. Clues were always brief and only came when we really needed them to maintain the momentum of the game. Chris and Jesse did not intrude into our game at all.