Expedition Escape Rooms: Da Vinci’s Secrets [Review]

Location: Expedition Escape Rooms, Civic (Canberra CBD), ACT, Australia

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

Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 9

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • 2-6 players

With only one hour to find a secret map containing the location of Da Vinci’s never before seen inventions, players are thrust into a race against a nefarious evil power who also seeks to gain this most prestigious and mysterious of prizes.

Da Vinci’s Secrets is Expedition Escape Room’s fast paced adaptation of RUSH’s Da Vinci Down Under from Melbourne, albeit with minor alterations.

We recently took advantage of a limited time discount deal with Expedition to revisit this escape room and see how Canberra’s newest escape venue performed. We were not disappointed!

To find Da Vinci’s Secrets, we were led into dimly lit spacious study decorated with beautiful prints of works from the great master. Mona Lisa, The Lady with the Ermine, the Virgin of the Rocks, Ginevra de Benci and others were all delightfully framed and dominated the room. A few indications of puzzles and tasks were embedded among the decor and it was clear that there would be many puzzles to do – thankfully we had plenty of torchlights. TThe_Lady_with_an_Erminehe soundtrack kicked off and we were spurred us to action.

With a pace and vibe that conjured a spirit of adventure, not unlike the sort you hear from adventure films such as National Treasure, the music encouraged a sense of momentum. Even though we had played another version of this escape room previously at RUSH, we knew we had to move quickly.

Da Vinci’s Secrets is well suited for teams of 4-6. Its fairly non-linear early game with multiple possible starting points allows everyone to keep busy. Smaller teams that are organised, communicate well and/or experienced in escape rooms will be able to tackle this challenge as well. However, don’t expect it to be easy – there is just plenty of things to do!

With a broad mix of puzzles which involve pattern identification, spatial reasoning, search, observation and some that pay tribute to notable mathematicians (or which utilise ancient encryption methods), Da Vinci’s Secrets will require different talents from a team. That is probably one of the strong points of “Da Vinci” rooms – he was so creative that good puzzle designers can be inspired to develop a nice and fun escape rooms even though the theme is quite overused.

ginevraAs Da Vinci’s Secrets incorporate the theme of the room into most of the puzzles, players who are actually familiar with the works of Leonardo will have an easier time in a particular part of the game. This knowledge, however, is not a pre-requisite. Analogue technologies are also used to great effect.

The service provided by Damian, who was our gamemaster and who runs Expedition, was also top knotch and very professional. He gave excellent subtle hints in a mysterious voice over the walkie talkie and kept the tension in the room.

How does Expedition’s Da Vinci’s Secrets compare with RUSH’s original Da Vinci Down Under?

Although the decor in RUSH’s Da Vinci Down Under felt more vintage, Expedition’s Da Vinci’s Secrets is a more spacious room that is less cluttered.

Ultimately though, Secrets is almost identical to Down Under which is the reason this review is so similar to the one we did for RUSH. As we had played the original version some time ago, we didn’t remember all the solutions and thankfully, there were a few minor alterations made by Expedition which have improved the game, particularly towards the end. The difference is probably not enough to justify playing both games for those looking for a different experience, however, Sydney-siders and Canberrans can now play the excellent escape rooms from RUSH without flying all the way to Melbourne!

After we played Da Vinci’s Secrets, we also had a blast playing Mission: Identity.

Out of the room

Service: Damian was professional as host and gamemaster. We had a good long chat with him after our games there and it was awesome to see how he was also very passionate about the business he had started. He told us how he left a position in a large company to pursue his entrepreneurial idea of opening a escape room, and we wish him all the best!

There are lockers for personal items at Expedition Escape Rooms.

Communication: Walkie talkies are used for hints throughout the game. Hints are unlimited.

Surroundings: Expedition Escape Rooms is located in Canberra CBD, directly next to Canberra Centre. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes of good quality around there (if they are crowded, they are good!). The location is also extremely near The Games Capital, which sell board games and RPGs, and Impact Comics – bonus!

For those curious about RUSH’s original Da Vinci Down Under in Melbourne, you can find our review of it here.

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