Date completed: Jan 2017 (4 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 9; Difficulty: 8.5; Atmosphere: 8; Fun: 9.
- Fluent English.
- 2-6 players (we recommend at least 4)
- Family friendly
Twelve months ago, we started our escaping year on a high note playing the newly opened Riddle Room, Canberra’s first escape room venue. Almost exactly one year later, we had the pleasure to return to Riddle Room, which was no longer in a garage but relocated to a spacious commercial space in Mitchell. We were invited by Chris and Jesse to test their brand new game, The Dungeon, which happened to be our 100th room! We were certainly amazed, but not surprised, when the game turned out to be as good as its predecessor Nightmare Room. Riddle Room did it again.
In a far far away land, an old king taken by insanity decides only the worthy can live within his city walls. Therefore, he builds a dungeon full of challenges and locks his subjects inside. If you escape in one hour, you can go on with your life. If not, you will be banned forever. Sir Trapspringer and Pá Le Fay (myself! :D) faced this adventure with Lady Ruth and Sir Alastair, aka the Escape Room Explorers, and frantically finished it when the clock reached 60min! We hope the king will be merciful and allow us to remain within the city walls – not thrown over them into the moat!
From the very start, The Dungeon required good communication between us all. We were chained to the walls and everyone’s deduction skills were needed to find a way out. Despite being presented in front of us, the solution to this initial challenge was not obvious… The high level of difficulty is a constant in this game and none of us could take a break, as there was always something else to be solved.
Once freed from the shackles, Trapspringer and I started dealing with a crafty puzzle while the Explorers did a thorough search of the room. This room really caters to having a team of four or more and this showed early game when the Explorers actually solved something we were in the process of building. In this room, having different points of view and thinking outside of the box will be very, very important. This paid dividends when we would all rotate through the puzzles we were getting stuck on and fresh perspectives often contributed to making breakthroughs. It’s also evident the puzzles in this room will challenge different forms of intelligence.
A person with good spatial perception and jigsaw skills will be a valuable ally in this battle. Make sure to have observant searchers in your team as well, and people good with association puzzles. The Dungeon‘s late game associations are very layered and will require more elaborate thinking than the average escape room. There is also some deductive work and mechanical aptitude which will be required too. Eventually some easy puzzles pop up, but remember the king wants only the best subjects in his kingdom!
Our journey began in a non-linear fashion and it was possible for players to split up to tackle separate paths of puzzles. Only by mid-game did these paths join. That was the only moment we thought a small tweak would be necessary in a puzzle, as the task was evident but the execution would take too much time. This was suggested to Chris and Jesse after the game and they said they would work on that point. Otherwise, the flow of the game is very smooth.
The Dungeon was large. It was dark, but not to the point of requiring lanterns. Similar to the Nightmare Room, paying attention to what you find (and to your surroundings) will allow you to spot the guiding clues for the puzzles positioned all over The Dungeon.
Attention to detail is a strong point of this game and it is obvious how much effort Jesse and Chris had invested into making The Dungeon look like one. Much of the setting was built and painted by Jesse’s father (who we didn’t meet, but is obviously talented) and every detail was decorated by the owners themselves. Also (un)noticeable too was how seamlessly technology was employed in this room to enable discrete effects without breaking the illusion of the medieval setting. The hand crafted puzzles with clever mechanics were also noteworthy. Carvings, paintings and objects fit the setting, which was well measured to be mysterious without being scary. Parents with kids can have fun in this room, and some puzzles will suit the younger ones.
60 minutes later, with hands shaking and after dealing with Arthurian characters, earthly creatures and the night sky, we emerged from The Dungeon extremely satisfied with the experience.
After the game, we had an extensive chat with Chris and Jesse about this room, future projects and how they have been finding things. It was extremely interesting to see how Riddle Room kept the high quality in this game, which set the benchmark for Canberra’s escape industry. We are not afraid to say that nowadays the Australian capital has a strong set of games available, worth the trip for those who live somewhere else. We certainly hope it will not take another year for us to play more creations from the Riddle Room.
Out of the room
Service: Chris and Jesse were extremely friendly, professional, and provided high quality debriefs for us after we finished. These guys have set up a system which measures the time taken by players breakthrough each puzzle. They were able to provide a very clinical explanation of where we got stuck and where we did well. Interestingly, this system also allows them to conduct a systematic assessment of how their puzzles affect the game and they’ve been using this information to help improve their rooms.
The new venue has a spacious briefing room which can cater for larger groups (i.e. corporate customers) and the introduction to the game was professional. The briefing area also had clever logic puzzles which helped warm up our brains. There are lockers for personal belongings.
Communication: We were monitored at all times throughout the game and Riddle Room provided hints through a screen which also has the countdown timer. The clues were extremely well timed and direct to the point without revealing the solution. You may ask for unlimited clues, and to do so, just talk to the walls. They will hear you.
Surroundings: There is a cafe right beside Riddle Room, which we did not have the chance to try as it was very late night. Although driving is probably the easiest way to reach the venue, there is a bus stop (Hoskins St before Dacre St) right in front of the escape room.
You can read Escape Room Explorer’s version of events here.