EscapeXperience: Burlesque [Review]

Locatescapexperience-redion: EscapeXperience, Oakleigh, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Date completed:  April 2016 (3 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 10Difficulty: 8.5; Atmosphere: 10; Fun: 9.5.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • 2-6 players (we recommend 4).

Wow. Wow! What was this room? We were sent into a club called Burlesque to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances. The 60 minutes we had to go undercover and make a break in the case were simply amazing.

The room was co-designed with the crew from Escape Room Melbourne (ERM), so we expected that Burlesque would be an immersive experience given ERM’s track record. However, what did come as a surprise was how sumptuously EscapeXperience decorated the escape room to create the beautiful setting of a decadent and cozy Roaring Twenties clubhouse. The numerous props and the music matched the atmosphere of the era and did not come across as tacky. Furniture, silverware, drinking glassware, gramophone, wigs…. All that jazz!

The beautiful way Burlesque is executed, along with the well blended puzzles and immersion experience gave us no doubt: we scored it 10 for both Creativity and Atmosphere – the first time we’ve rated a room with perfect scores in two categories.

The immersive factor was very prominent from the start. The gamemaster gave us our briefing and briefcase with the necessary items to start our investigation. He assumed the mantle of being the ‘senior detective’ and didn’t drop character for the entire game. On the walkie-talkie, he would only refer to us as “agents”,  to what we would reply “yes, sir!” Pay attention to what he says!

Burlesque started with an interesting warm up area where players had to break into the club to begin their investigation. This simple mechanic placed us in the right frame of mind (kind of a ‘mental airlock’) and made the rich set of Burlesque that much more exciting when we stepped in. There is also a very immersive event somewhere in the game – that’s all I’ll say about it.

Furthermore, Burlesque is a genuine murder mystery. I feel this is important to say up front because it is very rare to actually come across a legit crime solving escape room in the ‘CSI’ genre. Typically, puzzles in the genre match setting and backdrop but don’t actually go through the motions of an investigation. In this room, not only are there puzzles directly pertinent to the case, there are also proper forensic details which are important to solving them.

This room also defies the ‘single purpose’ convention of most escape rooms where items are forgotten after being used once. Players should amend their mindset in coming into this room and treat the information and pieces within it as part of the greater mystery, and keep them in mind as long as they could be relevant. The last time we played an escape room where we actually had to piece clues together to solve a crime was last year in Valencia at Clue Hunter’s Murder in the Train. Burlesque, however, is more realistic.

The puzzles vary from forensic investigation, search, pattern association, deductive logic, interpretation of clues and tasks involving physical elements. Individually, the puzzles are not too difficult. However,  Burlesque is stacked full of them! In a set where everything has frills, glitter and feathers! It’s so full that we think it would be extremely hard for 2 experienced players. We played with 3 escape veterans and finished in the room in 46 minutes. it may sound quick, but it was very demanding!

We recommend 3-4 players for Burlesque as any more would crowd the room and some players may miss out on a unique experience. Also, be organized. If you are the type of person who loses your socks in your own room, you will need to pay double attention. There are crucial tiny pieces that will easily disappear in the fancy night club.

Before we review every room, Pá and I take the effort to flowchart the puzzles to objectively see how creative or sophisticated a room’s puzzle layout is. In most escape rooms, the flowchart tends to be a straight line, or parallels that join at a certain point. For Burlesque, it looked like a cabbage (although you could never tell while playing it). The initial part of the game allowed for multiple paths of simultaneous investigation that cross each other in unexpected and beautifully designed ways. The overall layout of the room was deceptively complex but the sequences of puzzles were intertwined extremely smoothly. Teams will benefit from good organisation and coordination skills to keep track of everything.

In a nutshell, Burlesque was great. Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart and would kill to be in a club like this!

chicago-velma-billy-roxie
Many details of Burlesque reminded us of Oscar-winning Chicago.

Out of the room

Service: The gamemaster, always in character as the senior detective, made all the difference when we asked for hints over walkie-talkie. The immersion was perfect. He kept a very good eye on us and responded very quickly when we wanted to clarify certain things in the game. The hints were subtle but direct.

Personal belongings are stored in lockers provided by EscapeXperience.

Communication: Hints, questions and other communication were conducted through walkie-talkie.

Surroundings: It actually takes some time to get to EscapeXperience – about 40 minutes by train from the Melbourne city centre, plus a short walk. However, the area there in Oakleigh has great cafes, restaurants and a shopping centre next to EscapeXperience. We highly recommend making the trip out there. We really do. Seriously.

Burlesque has also been reviewed by Escape Rooms in Melbourne, Escape Me and Escape Room Hunters.

We also played EscapeXperience’s other room, Amnesiawhich we highly recommend.

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