Escape Room Melbourne (ERM): Escape Room (Flemington) [Review]

dearLocation: Escape Room Melbourne (ERM), Flemington, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Date completed: April 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 8.5;  Difficulty: 6.5; Atmosphere: 8Fun: 9.5

Requirements:

  • 70 minute room
  • Fluent English
  • 2-6 players

ERM has had a pretty good track record at creating immersive rooms which engage players with creative puzzles. We played Kellar’s Magic Emporium and Mine Escape back in November last year as part of an escape room marathon and were extremely impressed with how the rooms were crafted and detailed. Although we wanted to play Escape Room at the Flemington venue as well, it was booked out due to it’s popularity. After finally getting to play it, we can see why this was the case.

The premise of Escape Room is pretty simple and reminds me of Choose Your Own Adventure books: You’ve inherited an old house from a quirky relative, who was a scientist, in the nice suburb of Flemington in Melbourne. After clearing through the backyard, you come across a large mysterious shed with an even more mysterious room which looks like it had been abandoned for 50 years or so. You go in and the door swings shut and locks. You see a letter on the table which explains what’s in store for the next 70 minutes.

Escape Room managed to surprise us even after having played 50 escape rooms and is definitely worth playing. Read on to find out why!

Simply named Escape Room, this endeavour from ERM is one of the earliest rooms in Australia and helped make escape rooms popular in the country. Despite it being the predecessor of many others, we found that Escape Room still works in the growing escape room market because it does the basics extremely well. Although it has many locks and the flow of the game may be familiar to veterans, the puzzles in this game were varied and creatively used principles of physics, associative logic, search and observation to great effect.

Flem-Photo01

Using very basic technology which cannot fail, we found that many of Escape Room’s puzzles were based in the real world and got players to think of what was possible physically and mechanically. This didn’t mean that you need to know how to calculate momentum or anything remotely like that, however, having a mind for physical cause and effect certainly helps. Same again for music. Players that have been formally trained in this discipline might find an easier time in some instances but this was not mandatory. In fact, there is no need to over think anything, which isn’t to say that the puzzles are easy.

The game also starts in a fairly non-linear fashion and larger teams can easily split up to tackle different paths of puzzles early game. Once the game converges to a more linear fashion late game, teamwork is still essential and it helps if everyone pays attention to their surroundings! This room can easily accommodate 4-5 players as there is a fair amount to do. This room is definitely achievable for 2 players within the 70 minute limit and took us 39min 38sec as experienced players.

As one of the elder escape rooms, this one has aged remarkably well. Everything worked, locks functioned without problems and the only minor issue we had was a bad torch which was quickly replaced without fuss early in the game.

Despite it’s deliberately dated look, Escape Room holds a certain charm. All puzzles fit the theme of a 1940s to 1960s abandoned room and it wasn’t pretentious. There were certainly no cheap and tacky tricks of electronic wizardry here. Everything felt functional.

Located in a backyard shed, this room also reminded me of Riddle Room’s Nightmare Room garage setup. In both these cases, it was evident that the rooms were built by people who enjoyed their craft and who weren’t afraid to take risks to make things happen. ERM setup Escape Room when they weren’t even a thing in Australia.

After the game we got to have a chat with Sam, who was our gamemaster and who is also the brother of Owen, who opened ERM with Ali. Sam’s enthusiasm for the hobby-turned-industry really showed when talking with him after the game.

Actually, that’s one of the things I’ve really come to like about the escape room industry in Australia. The people involved in it are typically passionate, driven, intelligent and friendly. Whether they be Sam (ERM), Robin (Unexpected Exit), Chris and Jesse (Riddle Room) or Joan and Frank (Labyrinth), we’ve always enjoyed interacting with these people to find out how they went about creating something new. ERM helped start something very special with Escape Room and it’s definitely worth a visit. No wonder they are often fully booked.

After a short break, we also played ERM’s Surveillance: Division 5.

Out of the room

Service: Sam was very friendly and tailored his briefing according to our experience. He followed our progress closely and responded very quickly when we needed a torch replaced without interrupting the game.

Players can take their possessions into Escape Room and leave them in a corner somewhere (or not).

We recommend booking well in advance for this room due to its popularity.

Communication: Players can just ‘talk to the walls’ for hints during the game although a walkie talkie was provided as a backup.

Surroundings: This ERM venue is in Flemington and takes around 20 minutes by tram from the city followed by a short walk to get to. There is a good cafe nearby which does good coffee and breakfast.

Escape Room has also been reviewed by Escape Rooms in Melbourne and Escape Room Hunters. ERM has also licensed a version of this game to Captivate Escape Rooms in Singapore, under the name Elixir. This has been reviewed by Escaping.SG and Escape Room Explorers.

SBS’ The Feed also does an amusing segment on it:

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