Unexpected Exit: The Deranged Scientist [Review]

Unexpected-Exit-Escape-RoomsLocation: Unexpected Exit, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Date completed:  Jan 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping (with extra time)!

Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 7Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 7.5

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • 2-10 players
  • 50 minute game

After failing to foil the Zamorian terrorists in The Terror Cell  we were looking to redeem ourselves. After a quick break, Robin, who runs Unexpected Exit, set us up for the next challenge: The Deranged Scientist  has captured us in his lab, where we are poisoned and have 50 minutes to uncover his plot for a chemical/biological terror attack, find the antidote for ourselves and escape.

The Deranged Scientist is a classic ‘mad scientist’ genre game done right. It is set in a convincing lab environment well decorated with the sort of items you expect to see in them. Flasks, test tubes, bunsen burners, microscopes….  In enhancing the setting, Robin has placed a lot of trust in the players with the amount of legitimate glass lab equipment in The Deranged Scientist. This is very refreshing given the level of safety concerns these days. Having heard numerous horror stories from escape room operators on how players can break things for the most pointlessly avoidable reasons, we thought to point out the importance for prospective players to show escape room etiquette here and the need to apply common sense in vicinity of these items.

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Not all of the lab equipment will be a part of the game, however, many of the props and components of puzzles are integrated with the setting. Like The Terror Cell, there is a strong emphasis in The Deranged Scientist on mechanical intelligence, observation and some pattern analysis for the puzzles. In some of the more creative puzzles, players have to think of clever ways of using the objects at their disposal to solve physical challenges. Players with a practical bent (scouts, handymen, tinkerers) might do well here.

Although items, locks and challenges are easier to locate and identify than in the Cell (it’s not in the dark for starters), this rooms is still moderately difficult and will require players to think quickly. The room does require natural teamwork for people to be able to use their strengths properly and good resource management (time vs people) is recommended.

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If you plan to play all rooms in Unexpected Exit, we would suggest trying this one first, to get the gist of the puzzles, before tackling The Terror Cell. You will see some ‘traditional’ puzzles mixed with some very creative ones. The objectives are easier to find and you may even spot on an unintended reference to 50 Shades of Grey. No worries, the room is totally family-friendly!

This lab is pretty large and provides more than ample challenges for two players. 50 minutes is a challenge for smaller teams and we didn’t finish the room in time as a pair. We were lucky enough that there were no bookings after us and so Robin gave us extra time to complete the room. Unexpected Exit makes good use of the space in this room and larger groups could tackle many tasks simultaneously, making this a fairly non-linear game.

The Deranged Scientist is probably a good corporate event too. It’s spacious, has enough for everyone to be occupied and the gamemaster runs a slick game.

Out of the room

Service: Robin was an awesome gamemaster who gave excellent service, monitored our progress and provided a comprehensive debrief. It was very nice to have a chat with him after we played both The Terror Cell and The Deranged Scientist. He even gave us bottled water for our drive back to Canberra!

Communication: Unexpected Exit uses written notes passed underneath the doorway as the means of communication. Although you obtain very personalised replies, this actually increases the difficulty as it forces a level of agency and active participation on the players to use up valuable time to write well phrased questions. In a team of 4+, this might not be so punishing, but with only 2, it made us consider very carefully before sending off our queries. After all, it takes the gamemaster time to write back…. (as a silver lining, his handwritting is clear!)

Surroundings: Unexpected Exit is located in Hunter Street, around 10 minutes drive from the beautiful beaches of Newcastle. Bonus! The same distance will take you to nice restaurants.

We also returned to Unexpected Exit a year later to play Blast Radius.

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