Escape Hunt Sydney: Robbery in the Cottage [Review]

Logos-for-website_0028_ESCAPE_HUNT_SYDNEY_LOGOLocation: Escape Hunt Experience Sydney, Sydney CBD, NSW, Australia

Date completed: June 2015 (2 players). Succeeded
escaping!

Creativity: 5; Difficulty: 5; Atmosphere: 5; Fun: 6.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • Basic arithmetic
  • 2-5 people

Located in Sydney CBD, Escape Hunt Sydney uses The Rocks, a historic ‘old town’ of the city as background for its escape rooms. In the ‘easy level’ Robbery in the Cottage, a gold coin stash has been stolen from The Rocks’ largest workers’ cottage. You play the part of detectives trying to solve the mystery and catch the culprit before he disappears from the area forever. Whodunit?

We played this room on a Saturday afternoon and the place was just buzzing. We were a bit overwhelmed by how busy the place was, and we have to recognize the hard work of the staff. This room was fun but there were a mix of good and bad points which we’ll get to in the review below.

When we first got into the waiting area of Escape Hunt Sydney, it was evident that the place was almost fully booked. Normally this shouldn’t be a problem, but the word that came to mind in describing the venue was industrial. Families with kids and groups of friends were moving into and out of escape rooms with regularity. There were around 25 people – not counting us – of all ages playing their 6 rooms (2 for each scenario) but there was only two (later three) brave staff hosting them all. It was just as well that the waiting area was quite spacious and had comfortable couches.

After receiving the briefing, we were sent into the Cottage and we soon began our search for clues and items. Early into the game, it became clear very quickly that the industrial approach had taken its toll on this escape room. A lock was not in position and didn’t lock a drawer; there were missing pieces from an early puzzle; the locks had seen better days and the numbers were hard to read – the place had a worn look. We ended up using a little time to figure out what clues and puzzle pertained to the misplaced lock and were no longer relevant. The missing clues were also easily overcome. Another common fault in the three Escape Room Sydney games we played was that the batteries for the UV lights needed replacing.

At this point of the review, I should point out that the scenario was fun to play despite the issues and we managed to recover the stolen gold in time. The puzzles required searching, some basic math, lots of association and deductive reasoning. For pattern-puzzle-lovers such as Pa, there are quite a few to play with.

Those who are escape room veterans will not see anything new here, however, the strengths of this room are hidden objects and red herrings. There was one red herring which played on the biases of those who had maybe done escape rooms before and/or thought too much about things.

Overall, this room can be fun as long you are in it purely for the puzzles and not worry much about the setting. Since we’ve played in June 2015, Escape Hunt have hopefully fixed some of the issues by spending some money into replacements for props (locks, UV torches and basic pieces of furniture) and staff. It was an issue to have only 2 staff to run 6 rooms fully booked (not including people in the waiting area) during a weekend. Those kids did their best and we salute their efforts. But it shouldn’t be up to them to manage all that and still deliver a good outcome.

On the bright side, we believe Escape Hunt suggests the right number of people for this room (2-5), unlike some venues that try to shove as many people as possible in a confined space. This room could be good for beginners and for families with kids – they probably would solve one particular challenge in a blink and make their parents feel ashamed of not going for the fun solution.

After Robbery in the Cottage, we also tried Murder in the Pub (now replaced by Assassin in the Pub) and Extortion at the Dockyard.

 

Out of the room

Service: The (2) staff at Escape Hunt Sydney were were friendly and did the best they could under the circumstances. It was not an easy day to work there and I did not envy them. In spite of their challenges, they were still pretty responsive to hints and kept reasonable track of our game. Character building experience for them I suppose.

There are lockers personal belongings outside the rooms and tea is also available.

Communication: Escape Hunt standard, using walkie-talkies to provide hints. Staff were not intrusive and fairly quick to respond. They knew where we were in our game and gave proper hints.

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