Date completed: June 2017 (6 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 5.5; Difficulty: 5; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 7.5.
- Fluent English
In Trapt’s Madhouse, players are accused of a murder and must exonerate themselves within one hour. Sounds like a typical escape room scenario right? What’s not usual is that this escape room is located in a supposedly haunted location – a 19th century homestead in the middle of nowhere in Point Cook, South Melbourne.
Whenever we travel, both Pa and I really enjoy going on tours about ghosts and ‘dark pasts’. If nothing else, they provide a means to understand the lesser known ‘street histories’ of places and give insights into the lives of normal people. Like city walking tours, they’re also really good at giving visitors a feel on how to navigate a city. While were were looking for ghost tours to do in Melbourne, we came across Trapt’s Madhouse. Our interest suitably piqued, we made the booking and drove down with two friends.
This escape room is not in Melbourne CBD, where Trapt is located, but in Point Cook, a 20 minute drive from the city. Once we got to the old Point Cook Homestead at 10pm, we sat down with 8 others who had also booked a session of the Madhouse. After a brief introduction, we were given a quick walk around the location along with a short history of its former occupants.
In our opinion, the first segment of the experience had potential that was under utilised. Hosted by a guide from Lantern Ghost Tours, it was clear that the history and ghost stories of this location would be interesting. However, our guide was always cautious not to reveal much of the ghost story element as that information was for their proper ghost tour. Constant references to this fact served somewhat as a distraction and broke the suspension of disbelief. And to be honest, we’d be more inclined to return to Point Cook for a ghost tour if we were provided more information, not less, especially because this was a very expensive game.
Regardless, once we were at the location, the group of 12 was divided into groups of 6 as Trapt runs 2 sessions of Madhouse concurrently in different parts of the house. For those going in groups less than 6, know that you will be playing with strangers. In our case, this was not an issue at all and we ended up teaming with a lovely and smart couple.
The puzzles themselves weren’t bad, however, they were fairly conventional. Madhouse is mostly a ‘boxes with locks’ types of escape room focused on association puzzles. The narrative does find a neat way of being used throughout the different challenges and there were a few creative puzzles in the mix, including one which required player activity we have not seen before. All up though, the game is linear and it was relatively easy. We solved the murder mystery in 25 minutes, much to the surprise of the staff. As we had a bit of time left on location, we were given permission to roam around. This was the main drawcard – the house itself.
Cold, dark, quiet and colonial, the place has a way of making people feel unnerved in certain locations. It’s unfortunate that Madhouse doesn’t leverage this more but that is probably because Trapt is limited to how much physical alteration they can do to the location (I’m guessing they can’t do anything at all for heritage reasons).
During the game, something strange did occur, near the area in the picture above. It wasn’t obvious and nor was it a Definite-Sign-Of -The-Supernatural. However, it did raise enough interest from one of the hosts of Lantern Ghost Tours to provide us with more information about the place after the game. That occurrence was actually very interesting and we think Trapt and the ghost tour company should consider re-balancing how much background history players of Madhouse get exposed to as part of the initial tour of the house. Obviously, we can’t say whether any strangeness would occur should you decide to try the game (probably won’t)… Who knows what may be out there?
Out of the room
Service: Bookings need to be made online and players carry whatever they have on them into the house. When we played this in winter, it was extremely cold so make sure you bring enough warm clothing.
Communication: The gamemaster from Trapt checks in on the players mid way through the game and players could approach them at any time in another part of the house. There was certainly no ‘being locked in a room’ element. The objective was purely to solve the mystery.
Surroundings: As mentioned before, Point Cook is about 20 minutes drive from Melbourne city center. There isn’t much where the homestead is and would take ages to walk to from the nearest train station. The only realistic way to get there is by car.