Date completed: November 2016 (2 players). Uncovered the mystery, but failed to escape!
Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 8.5 ; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 8.5
- Intermediate English
- 2-6 players
In the third part of Xcapade’s escape room trilogy, the story concludes by tying together the mystery surrounding the missing journalist Sherlock from Apartment 73 and the morbid experiments of Dr. Frank from Laboratorium.
The search for Sherlock continued and finally lead us to an old office belonging to Project Indigo, a covert ‘X-Files’ arm of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). For our overseas readers, ASIO is the equivalent of MI-5 (UK), DGSE (France), BND (Germany) and kinda like the FBI combined with the Department of Homeland Security (US).
Unfortunately for us, the office was rigged with a self destruct mechanism and we had only one hour to find uncover the mystery once and for all.
Project Indigo started before we even arrived at Xcapade, in Melbourne. In fact, it started through an email sent from a desperate Sherlock who gave us a clue on how to access the office through a deductive logic puzzle. Following a detailed briefing from Nick, our gamemaster, we were again reminded of this puzzle and made our way through the door. The self destruction mechanism triggered and the clock began counting! This start point was a clever method of helping us get into the mindset of the game.
Once inside, one of the starting puzzles was not immediately intuitive for us, although the answer was around us. Once a hint explained it, the momentum of the game gained traction and we advanced at a good pace. Tasks and puzzles opened up rapidly and teams with up to 4 players will find things to do. Attention to searching is very important at this point! Check everywhere to make sure you have all elements you need to work with!
Project Indigo will require multiple skills so it is best if teams ensure some diversity to include people who could make logical associations, have mechanical aptitude, and be able to observe and search thoroughly. A dexterity puzzle becomes available early in the game (as the gamemaster had warned us) and we believe it is a good idea to have someone in the team dedicated to it soon, rather than waiting too long to do it and maybe wasting precious minutes.
Some puzzles had a pretty high level of complexity and were concluded only after peeling the layers of preceding puzzles like an onion, requiring multiple types of intelligence. There was even a puzzle which tested a sense we have not seen used in an escape room before. Overall, the game design is quite sophisticated and the level of difficulty for players is quite high.
Knowledge of a certain foreign language and Pa’s handwriting analysis skills from her days as a journalist were put to good use and made things easier for us in a particular layered puzzle. Of course, neither of skills are necessary to complete the puzzle but they sure did come in handy.
The end-game self destruction mechanism was a very elaborate set up which required us to remain focused and communicate with each other. This set up was the well designed result of awesome circuitry work made by Nick. Post-game, he told us about his experiments with Arduino and some ideas to enhance players experience. Actually, everything in the room was crafted by Nick and Benson. Their care for the props and game design really shows through in Project Indigo. The attention to detail was also seen in the story material which sought to mimic declassified official documents from ASIO to build the conspiracy feel of the game.
If you manage to overcome all challenges (which we didn’t, uh-oh!), you find a thorough explanation for the overall plot, which players can take time to read after the game. Nevertheless, the main elements of the covert Project Indigo are explained through the course of the room. Nick and Benson were kind enough to let us finish the room even though we “exploded”, so we could read the information. It was such a cool experience, to see all room in a venue coming together to a common conclusion. If there are any spin-offs, we will come back to play!
Out of the room
Service: Nick and Benson were lovely, clearly passionate about their games and they always knew where we were up to. Their instructions on “dos and dont’s” was very clear. 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. Some team photos for Xcapade’s Facebook page are taken outside, which is pretty refreshing if you think how many are just in front of a wall with a logo! 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!