Date completed: Mar 2017 (7 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 7.5; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 8.
- Intermediate English.
- 2-8 players (public ticketing)
- Family friendly
Remember those Cold War-era nuclear test videos where these fake towns get annihilated? The source of some of these well known videos come from the Nevada Test Site, which has been used since January 1951. As Chrono-Cops, Pa and I as well as five strangers were sent back to late-1950 to change the past related to the establishment of these tests. Mission was successful, but trouble struck and our time travelling device was destroyed! We reached our safe house, a dinghy hotel room in Las Vegas, and needed to construct a time portal to return to the present and Escape the Past.
This mobile escape room from the US company Escape Room Treasure Hunt (ERTH) has been doing the rounds through Australia, initially with Perth’s Fringe World Festival (Jan – Feb 17) and will be at the Adelaide Fringe Festival until 19 Mar 17. We just happened to be in Adelaide at the time and simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play this room.
As previously stated, Escape the Past placed Pá and I with five other strangers into the game. This was the actually the first time we have played an escape room with a group of random players and it was a very new experience for us. Readers from the US might find this strange, however, escape rooms in Australia and other countries we have played tend to use the private booking model.
Having a chat with our fellow Chrono-Cops, we found that there was a wide mix of escape-experience in the group: from a family who had never touched an escape room, a couple who had played another one before and then there was us.
After spending a couple of minutes to know each other before the game, our gamemaster Alice came out to brief us on our situation and lead us into the escape room, which was a 20 foot shipping container converted to look like a 1950s vintage Las Vegas hotel room.
For such a small area, Escape the Past packs a lot of puzzles. The game could conceivably start from at least three different start points and all seven players were engaged from the start to finish. Furthermore, there was only one or two occasions where I felt the room was crowded, which came as a surprise. The temperature got a bit hot though with eight people in the room (including Alice herself).
The puzzles in Escape the Past were very hands on and required a fair bit of interaction. The designers were clearly fond of old-style gadgets and some wooden/electric contraptions, which fit the theme well and looked like “modern stuff” from the 50s.
Working together as a group to find items, we also took Alice’s advice before the game and communicated our observations with one another. This is essential as the hotel room had plenty to search through. Some of the puzzles were evident through hand made gadgets and some of it was very cleverly disguised. Without ruining what was in the game, there is some very clever use of decor here. Have you ever thought that tacky coasters, old posters and (secured) mousetraps would fit in a escape room?
The puzzles which did employ logic were mostly association-based and were quite subtle at times. Some of these puzzles also required acute senses.
After the game, we talked with Alice about the Escape the Past and it seems that the completion rate of it is around 15%. We can see why that would be the case. There was lots to do and the puzzle design was actually quite layered and non-linear. On many occasions, we only found out the use of some items a lot after discovering them. But it all fit well into the flow, and everything is the room was worth exploring!
For escape room rookies, Escape the Past is definitely on the harder end of the spectrum. The level of difficulty can also depend on who you happen to have as your team mates on the day. Luckily, we had a pretty sociable group where everyone was collaborative and there were no wannabe alpha-type personalities. This also made the group decision to use our one major hint all the more easier. Everyone solved something in the game, and some moments were a collective “a-ha!” when someone would point out something really clever.
Our team made it out of the room with 9 minutes and 18 seconds to spare! It was a very exciting experience and it seemed like fun was had by all. An excellent outcome, and we were happily back to the future!
Out of the room
Service: Alice gave a very good briefing which provided the new time escape room players ample understanding of what they could do. Her gamemastering was also very slick and she never interfered with the game. If anything, she saw that our team worked well, had a good flow and only provided very brief suggestions to keep us on track. Otherwise, we did all the work.
Players took their belongings into the container and left them behind a dark screen during the game.
Communication: Alice was in the room with us the entire time but her presence was only felt when she offered small comments when we weren’t sure if we were on the right track. She guided the flow of the game very well. The group can ask for one major hint. Any further major hints will penalise the completion time by 5 minutes, however, you’ll still get the full 60 minutes of play (it could just mean that your completion time is over 60 minutes if you use more than one major clue).
Surroundings: Adelaide Fringe Festival has a panoply of shows and events. The Gluttony section of the Festival, where Escape the Past is located, also lived up to its name with many food stalls, very close to Rundle Street, famous for its restaurants. Over there we ate at an Italian restaurant named Brunelli which was open 24hrs and had very good (and sizeable) dishes. Real Italian Margherita pizzas, yumm!