Date completed: November 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 7.5; Difficulty: 6; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 8.5.
- Intermediate English
- One team member not colour blind
- 2-6 players
As avid readers, old-school nerds and RPG players, Trapspringer and I really appreciate a good story. This fact is no exception for escape rooms: we tend to prefer those that make you feel like part of a narrative. When we found out about how all of Xcapade’s rooms are part of a larger plot, we had to try it!
We started by playing their easy-level game, Apartment 73. A journalist friend of yours, called Sherlock, has not been in touch for a while. He was busy investigating something for his newspaper, The Argus, and so you decide to stop by his place to see how he’s doing. Getting there, the door to Apartment 73 is open, as if he was waiting for you… but no! The door slams behind you! The race is on to find out what happened to Sherlock and to get out, because something weird is going on!
Situated in a second story flat in Fairfield, Melbourne, Apartment 73 might seem non-threatening and somewhat pleasant. It really feels like a small apartment where a journalist (like me) could live. Minimalist art and watercolours surround you. However, do not let the welcoming enviroment fool you! This escape room quickly propels players into the game as there are a number of different puzzles which could be tackled at the start.
The initial setup is completely non-linear and many things can happen simultaneously. Be organized! Sherlock was obviously a neat person and it may help you locate your challenges! Larger teams with 5-6 players will have no problems finding things to do for players as components of the different puzzles are spread throughout the main living room.
Ther aren’t many red herrings (if there were any at all) and so it pays to communicate with teammates and let them know what you have observed. Some pieces in the apartment will obviously be puzzle related, however, there is an equal amount which will be far more subtle. Pay attention to everything, as some very normal objects may be essential to advance. If you were a journalist, which items would be important to you?
Puzzles are not too numerous nor complicated in Apartment 73, as the game was designed as the easy level escape room for Xcapade. This is not meant to be a criticism at all, as they are very well executed. There are also creative tasks which test mechanical aptitude. While there are many association puzzles in the room, the process of getting the required elements together can be layered in some instances.
The room also has a pretty original task where players must demonstrate patience, dexterity and/or savvyness to get through it properly. Rushing this task and failing to complete it results in a trap which will force you to solve an extra puzzle! (This isn’t a spoiler as it was briefed prior to starting). This same task had differing physical solutions and if your team has a person who is more engineering or mechanically minded, there is a possible solution which actually exploits the weakness of the machine in question using what you have. Really can’t say anymore about it though. It was clearly Trapspringer’s favorite puzzle in the room, and he is still feeling smart for solving it 🙂
Although you will only realize this if you play the other rooms, around the apartment are pieces of information which relate directly to Laboratorium and Project Indigo. The missing journalist friend is part of a bigger puzzle. This is perhaps one of the stronger areas of Xcapade. The detailed briefing provided to us by Nick, our gamemaster, also gave good context to why we were in Apartment 73 in the first place. If you are a player who likes narrative and have time, we highly recommend playing more than one room in Xcapade, starting with this one.
As an escape room, Apartment 73 is also very family friendly. According to Nick, some kids have a very high strike rate at solving some of the supposedly more complex puzzles towards end game. The room is not dark or scary, it is actually very bright. As we said in the beggining, Sherlock seemed to have a taste for art.
This game had a pretty good flow for us and we managed to beat the escape record at 23 minutes! However, that has since been surpassed by another group who managed to do it in 22min, an impressive performance! Once we found more about the deeds of our journalist friend, we went straight onto play Laboratorium. Could the experiments there be the subject of his investigation? Go find out!
At Xcapade, we also played Project Indigo, the room that closes the trilogy.
Out of the room
Service: Nick gave us a detailed run down on the background of the game and his instructions on “dos and dont’s” was very clear. The gamemastering was very well managed and it was clear that he always knew where we were up to. He and his partner Benson are clearly passionate for their job.
The waiting area of Xcapade is extremely spacious and can cater well to corporate events. It even has a large and pretty balcony with nice, vintage decoration. There are drinks available.
Communication: The communications are through walkie talkie and worked fine on the day. The voice from the gamemaster was very clear.
Surroundings: Xcapade is conveniently close to the Fairfield train station, which is 20min by car or 25 min by train from the city centre. The venue is located on top of the Bean Counter Cafe, which seemed to do pretty decent breakfasts. We had a takeway sandwich and a coffee that were very tasty after 3 back-to-back games!