Date completed: Mar 2017 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 7.5; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 7.
- 2-7 players
- Intermediate English
- One team member not colourblind
The basic premise of Mad Scientist is incredibly simple. There is a scientist. He is mad. You are trapped in his laboratory and must escape in 60 minutes or you will become his next experiment. Scientific ethics? What ethics?
According to Adventure Rooms, this game was their original creation for the international franchise and now it can be played in the vast majority of their venues around the world. We decided to give it a go during our visit to Adelaide, determined not to end inside a test tube!
As the scientist surely imagined, most people would not kindly volunteer to become test subjects. You start your adventure cuffed to a series of metal bars inside his lab. Getting rid of them is the first task.
From the start of the game, you will be able to see further areas to explore, however you will not have access to them until later. It does not mean that you should ignore that area at first, remember to pay attention to everything you can see!
Observation, dexterity and the creative use of props will be the main skills required in the beginning. Most puzzles in this area are quite fun and can keep many members of the team occupied, as the game is not entirely linear.
You will find devices common to engineering and laboratory testing fields. Those who understand those areas of tech and science will very quickly know what to do, but don’t worry if you’ve never been exposed to them before. A little bit of toying around should be enough to figure out how they work, what they are designed to measure, and from there, which puzzles they are pertinent to. These puzzles were pretty out of the box and made up the more memorable parts of the room. They were very hands on, required mechanical aptitude and some of them fit the laboratory theme really well. The emphasis was on functional technology rather than ‘magical effects’.
At a certain stage players will be requested to perform scientific experiments, and we just wished more teachers did tasks like that at school. It is really interesting how Adventure Rooms managed to include raw Physics into a game and it was fun!
In our view, only one puzzle was not as strong as the others as it required a “jump” in association to be solved that we considered a bit too abstract – we got stuck at that point for approximately 10 minutes. We needed a hint, which took a while to come. After the game, the GMs said they waited to help us because “we had solved the other puzzles too fast and were ahead of the average time”. Although we understand the logic of it, we thought this decision caused a huge break in the flow of the game. This was quite frustrating and we informed the GMs of this not as a criticism, but as another element to consider when dealing with different types of teams.
Another part of Mad Scientist which could be improved involved a furniture-based puzzle. We felt the execution of the puzzle was not smooth as it required some effort to physically achieve an effect. As most venues (including Adventure Rooms) stress to players that brute strength is not necessary, this particular puzzle was a bit finicky to accomplish as we obviously were afraid of breaking anything.
For all our criticism of Mad Scientist, we would like to stress that there is nothing wrong with the room, much on the contrary. The puzzles were creative, props worked, the setting was effective if basic, and nothing felt worn. The thing is, Mad Scientist was launched by the global Adventure Rooms franchise a while ago before the escape industry became as big as it is. As a result, some elements of the room will be familiar to escape room veterans. However, we can see how this rooms would have been mindblowing and very avant garde when it was first released. The staff at the venue also mentioned that this version of Mad Scientist was due for a refurbishment soon so some things may change and probably for the better. If you’re a relatively new player to escape rooms though, this one is actually a pretty good one to start with.
At Adventure Rooms Adelaide, we also played The Gaol Break. We did not try their third game, The Black Queen, which we had played previously in Florence (Italy), but may give it a new go in Australia. All three games are also available in Adventure Rooms Melbourne, which opened in 2017.
Out of the room
Service: In Adventure Rooms Adelaide, you take your items into the room with you. There is water for players in the reception areas and toilets. Our briefing was comprehensive and our gamemaster Josh was very good in recommending places to eat around the area.
Communication: If the gamemasters notice you are stuck, they will send hnts through a screen. You do not talk to them directly.
Surroundings: Adventure Rooms Adelaide is in the middle of Rundle Mall in the heart of Adelaide. There is no shortage of options for food in this area and it is easily accessible by tram or bus. there are always performances going on on the street as well, some quite good.