Xcapade: Laboratorium [Review]

xcapade_logoLocation: Xcapade, Fairfield, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

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

Creativity: 8; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 8.5.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • One team member not colour blind
  • 2-6 players

Two hundred years ago, when a 18 year old Mary Shelley wrote the first drafts of Frankenstein, she could never have imagined that it would become canon for gothic horror literature (not to mention becoming one of the first science fiction novels).  She also probably couldn’t have realised that this masterpiece would inspire plays, songs, movies, and….. escape rooms. Xcapade’s Laboratorium gorges in references from the novel and will be especially interesting for those who appreciate the story of Dr. Victor’s creation.

However, Laboratorium is not a room about Frankenstein. As we mentioned before, all rooms in Xcapade belong in the same universe and follow a story. In this escape room, we infiltrated the Laboratorium of Dr. Frank in search of our friend and journalist, Sherlock, who was kidnapped from his home in Apartment 73. Sherlock was on the trail of suspicious activity related to the theft of corpses at the time. Is he in the lab? What is Dr. Frank actually researching, and how does it connect with Sherlock’s investigation? Why is the scientist so interested in the works of his Gothic namesake? We were really curious to find out.

There is a big contrast between this room and Apartment 73, the game we played previously in Xcapade. While the latter is non-linear and the setting is very bright, the Laboratorium is a dark environment and it would appear that Dr. Frank is very much inspired by Dr. Frankenstein from the 19th century novel. Laboratorium also progressed in a strictly linear fashion, with puzzles aplenty. As the structure of the game is such that players tackle one task at a time, we recommend 3-4 players as the optimum group size for a smoother run. This will allow everyone to contribute without feeling crowded. As we found out, the room is perfectly playable by 2 people, however.

One of the players will start the game restrained, and the first task of the team will be to set him/her free. Take your time to explore the lab and be organised. It is very easy to be overwhelmed by all the bits and pieces at the beginning and lose the train of thought! If you stumble on something that seems to be too complicated, persevere and take a moment to take a look around – there may be something missing from your current hypothesis. You do not have to know advanced chemistry or physics to advance through this lab.

The room is dark, but not too much, and there are enough torches available. Nick and Benson did a superb job with the setting and the props have a style that resembles classical Gothic/cyberpunk. Beautiful calligraphy and some drawings will enhance the atmosphere. Technology was nicely embedded in some puzzles.

xcapade-labWe enjoyed the hands-on puzzles in this room, and the one that required some mechanical aptitude. There were also imaginative versions of tasks we had seen before, but that were adapted here to fit the story of Dr. Frank and his experiences. Many of them require teamwork, search, association, interpretation and riddles. If you are really familiar with the Frankenstein book, some puzzles will gain nuances that enrich the experience. But no previous knowledge is necessary, and you can surely complete the game without ever having heard of the infamous creature. Trapspringer and I had a blast at most of the association puzzles (they tend to be the ones we crack quicker), but needed some hints for later game, when we got really close to the subjects of Dr. Frank’s research. One of the puzzles required flexibility and some acrobatics, but only because we solved it in a really complicated way instead of keeping it simple. We believe Nick and Benson may have laughed a lot!

You find out more and more about Dr. Frank and his experiments as you progress through the room. His infatuation with Mary Shelley’s book will be evident, and may mask deeper meanings. Is he really guilty of your friend’s disappearance? Or is he another victim? If that is the case, how so? Xcapade does a great job in connecting all their rooms and Laboratorium ties neatly with Apartment 73 and works as a nice medium-difficulty continuation. You can also opt for starting your adventure in the Lab, and then progress to the Apartment – the story will also work. We just recommend that you play at least one of these two before proceeding to the concluding part of the adventure, Project Indigo. It felt like reading a good story developing – we had to know how it ended!

Out of the room

Service: Once again, we received a detailed briefing and complete run down on the game’s background from Nick and benson. Their instructions on “dos and dont’s” were very clear and they followed our progression thoroughly through the room.

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 and a very clean bathroom.

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!

Laboratorium has also been reviewed by Escape Room Hunters.

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