Escape Rooms Central Coast: Espionage [Review]

logo-3Location: Escape Room Central Coast, Charmhaven, Central Coast, NSW, Australia

Date completed: Jan 2017 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 7; Difficulty: 6; Atmosphere: 6.5; Fun: 8.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English.
  • 2-8 players
  • Family friendly

When a journalist who had uncovered evidence of a global conspiracy network has disappeared from his apartment, Pa decided she could not leave a fellow journo’s fate in the shadows. The idea of spending some time in the Central Coast may also have appealed to her. So we took the car and started our journey towards Escape Rooms Central Coast. It was up to us to find out what have happened, preferably within one hour!

After receiving the initial briefing in an elaborately decorated briefing area from Isaac, our gamemaster, we were presented with a letter in which the journalist described having uncovered a global conspiracy. According to the note, a mysterious secret society had been dictating world events that heavily affected the course of history.

Espionage begins with the players exploring his apartment trying to find clues to his whereabouts and what he was researching. In this spacious room that could easily cater for the max number of people, many puzzles and tasks were distributed around in a non-linear fashion. We thought it was particularly good for large groups, that seem to be the target of the venue, which also hosts a lasertag arena.

The initial set of puzzles could be tackled in any order, and we also we found out that is was not actually necessary to complete all of them in first layer to advance in the game. It all depended of how much you were able to solve and how much could you also deduce from the information  acquired. The puzzles consisted mostly of pattern association, but there were also mechanical tasks, some cryptic instructions, and a fair amount of observation and search. There is a good mix of high-tech and low-tech puzzles and everything worked perfectly while we played.

In the transition from one area to another, we dealt with a puzzle that we had seen before, but with a very fun addition. It is refreshing when rooms prove that even something considered “cliché” can be revamped, as long as you design it in a fun way or include interesting elements. We clapped out hands to that – we actually needed to, and if you tackle the puzzle the same way as we did, you will see why.

charmhaven

Later in the game, when we found ‘evidence’ of the secret society’s activities, a little bit of common knowledge of events throughout the last 60 years as well as knowledge of some conspiracy theories helped with the final stage. No external knowledge is necessary to solve the puzzle, but people who like history or regularly followed the news for the last years will have an easier time.

Having played over a hundred rooms, the puzzles in Espionage did not offer major surprises for us, but were very fun. The room may pose a fair challenge for non-experienced players, and an entertaining time for the more experienced ones. It is a basic escape room done right. The puzzles were well executed, everything in the room was relevant and there were no red herrings. We found the style and flow of the game very smooth to get into and it was genuinely fun to play. After 44 minutes, we emerged successful in uncovering the conspiracy in record time!

After the game, we had a chat with Isaac, who was very passionate about his work. He and a colleague they indicated that Espionage was a licensed game (we list some international venues below) and that Escape Rooms Central Coast is planning to design and build their own game later in 2017. We will be keen to try it when it opens, for sure!

Out of the room

Service: From the moment we arrived at the reception (and no one knew we were reviewers), we were very well treated by the staff. The briefing area looks very cool and our gamemaster, Isaac, was probably the best dressed gamemaster we met to date. It seemed like he had just participated in a Downton Abbey episode.  His briefing was also very comprehensive.

There were cabinets to store our belongings near where the gamemaster worked.

Communication: Escape Rooms Central Coast has the excellent “voice of god” hint system. You can just speak out loud, to the walls, and a voice will reply to you. Clues are unlimited.

Surroundings: There is a cafe downstairs, as well as an enormous laser tag area managed by the same owners of Escape Rooms Central Coast. The region of Charmhaven is famous for its beaches, and as they are beautiful, it is great to see other options of entertainment developing in the area. If you are in Sydney, a one-hour drive out of the city can bring you to this place.

Espionage has also been reviewed by Scott from Escape Rooms in Sydney.

This game has been licensed internationally and is also available in the UK and Dublin at Escapism Chester, Escape Livingstone and Escape Dublin (which has been reviewed by EscapeRoomer). We don’t don’t how similar or different these games might be.

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