Orz Escape: The Vanished Carnivale [Review]

orzLocation: Orz Escape, Melbourne CBD, VIC, Australia

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

Creativity: 8; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 7.5.


  • Fluent English
  • Acute senses
  • 2-6 players
  • 45min room

Evil clowns. They seem to be everywhere these days. Melbourne has a hilarious reputation of being a city full of hipsters, so I guess Orz Escape lived up to this reputation when they did an evil clown escape room before they became mainstream. Enough of bagging out Melbourne though. If you suffer from coulrophobia – the fear of clowns – this is a room to avoid. They are CREEPY.

The Vanished Carnivale is home to the greatest clowns the world has seen. However, after every show, it seems like the troupe of clowns is becoming smaller and smaller. Have they been disappearing? Did I mention that they are evil clowns? We found ourselves handcuffed to the wall of the Carnivale at the start of the investigation and had one hour to solve the mystery.

At first, everything looks colourful. Circus posters, toys, music. But hey, why are we… kinda restricted in movement? What happened to the clowns? Once you start solving the puzzles and the story becomes more clear, you realize that they are very far from being a funny happy bunch.

orz-patoThe Vanished Carnivale has a good variety of puzzles and some are quite ‘hands on’. They require both brain work and a bit of physical interaction, which is fun. The game starts by challenging your ability to understand your surroundings, along with association, interpretation, math, deductive logic and observation. Some props are unusual and even cute – a nice touch and a good balance for some other things you will see.

Speaking of ‘seeing’, make sure one of your team members has acute senses and isn´t coloublind. There are many coloured things to deal with.  I (Pá) need vision correction and one of the puzzles was difficult even with contact lenses on. Otherwise, puzzles had a nice flow and we always knew what to tackle next. Challenges are very logic-based, which is a characteristic of Orz Escape, but the variation in items, the types of association and deduction sustains the fun.

We had an issue with only one puzzle in the later game. Once you find it, it comes with a hint. However, we did not understand the hint and called the gamemaster, who came in and tried to explain it with some mimicry. The issue was that the specific gesture to explain the puzzle, which seems to work with players from Australia, is quite rude in Brazil, where I grew up. For Trapspringer, the gesture was neither instinctive nor obvious in meaning. I was aware that the gesture was harmless given the context, after all, how could the gamemaster know? However, I could not avoid feeling veeeery awkward and taking a while to decipher the puzzle. While puzzles didn’t expect players to have knowledge of external elements, the gamemastering expected players to think a certain way – we also experienced it in other Orz games. We feel that hints could perhaps be communicated better through subtle verbal hinting and with an understanding that ‘obvious’ is subjective depending on where a person comes from.

orz-bolaWe recommend 2-4 players for this room, which has a very interesting use of space and fairly straightforward progression. We were actually surprised by how it was laid out and how the story escalated. We deduced what happened earlier in the game, but Orz did a good job in telling parts of the story through things you can see in the room. The mid to later sections of the game reveals a very warped relationship between the supposedly happy clowns of The Vanished Carnivale.

The 45min for The Vanished Carnivale also increases the pace of the game significantly and we felt like we were constantly on the move. There is little time to ‘take a break’ here so don’t hesitate in asking for hints (if you don’t care about getting on the leaderboard)! This interesting room is definitely challenging when playing with only two players.

Out of the room

Service: Briefing was efficient and gamemaster was quick to respond. We had an issue with one of the hints as mentioned above, but in general it was ok. Personal belongings are stored in large chests and you get Polaroid pictures in the end if you escape.

Communication: You press a button to summon the gamemaster into the room if you need a hint. It will add 5 min to your final time if you call him once, 15 min if you call him twice. Of note, it takes time for the gamemaster to come into the room too. All of this stacks up on the final time. Those looking to break records will have a hard time!

Surroundings: Orz Escape is in the middle of Melbourne CBD, so the options to eat and shop around are plenty. Try some of the nice cafes and restaurants on the narrow alleyways. If you are a fan of musicals and plays, check what’s on because you are at walking distance for three very nice theatre venues (Her Majesty’s, Comedy and Princess).

The Vanished Carnivale has also been reviewed by Escape Room Hunters.

We also played the Endless Dream and Secret Invitation at Orz Escape.

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