The Mystery Rooms: Chapter 1 – The Lost Tomb [Review]

mystery-headerlogoLocation: The Mystery Rooms, Fitzroy (Melbourne), VIC, Australia

Date completed: June 2017 (4 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 10Difficulty: 8; Atmosphere: 9; Fun: 9.5.

Requirements:

  • Basic English
  • 4-6 players
  • Acute senses
  • Full mobility

The borders between the Fantasy World and the Real World are crumbling. To restore them and avoid an invasion by ill-intended magical creatures, a secret organization called GRIMM recruited you and your friends too look for the talismans of Strength, Knowledge and Courage and restore the separation between realms.

This is the story behind all Mystery Rooms games, in Melbourne. Chapter 1 – The Lost Tomb is the adventure to recover the Book of Dead, talisman for Knowledge, lost in the Ancient Egypt eras ago. Players are sent back to Cleopatra’s time, and the first thing they will notice is that the desert has a lot of sand. According to our GM, Mystery Rooms used seven tons of sand to build this room. We recommend exploring it barefoot!

The sand may be a strange element for adults that are not used to walking barefoot anymore, but it only takes a few seconds to get used to it. The Lost Tomb was probably the biggest sandbox I’ve ever played!

The initial area in the game allows players who never played an escape room before to understand the concept of this type of activity. While exploring abandoned sarcophagus, they encounter symbols and hints to associate the props around them. Although very accessible to beginners, it is not necessarily easy, and our team of four had to work together (sometimes rotating players between puzzles) to solve what was on stake. The manner in which clues were subtly included in the scenario is clever and shows care with the game design. This first area is also very heavy in sensory puzzles and having a diverse team will pay off.

THELOSTTOMBFULLOnce players manage to go further into the desert, the interactions with props and among players become more interesting. This room actually requires a lot of movement and prospective tomb raiders will have to come back and forth a few times. Except that it is not just back and forth, The Lost Tomb is designed in a way that other directions are required. I had a lot of fun just by walking around and finding where all the stuff was located!

Due to its uncommon shape, The Lost Tomb is best explored by large teams and Mystery Rooms correctly requires 4-6 people for this game. Teamwork and communication will be essential, as players are in separated spaces at some points but still working on the same puzzle. Besides what was mentioned before, the game also includes word puzzles, jigsaws, logic and deduction and, again, a fair amount of hands-on moments. Cleopatra protected her book very well!

Another characteristic of The Lost Tomb, which is common to all Mystery Rooms games, is that they are huge.  A common question about escape rooms is what to do if people feel claustrophobic, but I can’t imagine that happening in any of these games. The Lost Tomb is large, well lit and very welcoming for people of all ages. There is nothing scary (unless you can’t cope with plastic snakes. Or sand. There is heaps of sand.). It is surely among my first options if people ask for recommendations of family-fun games in Melbourne. Its variety in puzzles and tasks will also please very different types of people, as both bookworms and outside adventurers will find interesting tasks to solve.

We exited The Lost Tomb in 36 minutes and recovered the Book of Dead. We were now ready to explore the next chapters of this story and recover the missing talismans: Strength (in Chapter 2 – The Medieval Quest) and Courage (Chapter 3 – The Last Stand). Mystery Rooms is building a fourth room, to be playable by those who finish the initial 3 chapters. We will try it as soon as possible!

The video below is an old promotional video for The Lost Tomb. Although Mystery Rooms made some changes and does not use it anymore, I included it here to give an idea of the game.

Out of the room

Service: Our gamemaster Josh gave us one of the most exciting briefings we’ve ever had in an escape room venue. The way he did it neatly tied in the story and began the immersion into the game while still covering all the key points about what you can and cannot do. It was exciting and hilarious at the same time. This was also helped by the actual waiting area, which was made to look like a wood log cabin (the Mystery Rooms venue is huge).

There was another team in the room waiting to play Chapter 2, and he briefed both at the same time, as if we were in this incredible joint mission to save the world. By the end of the briefing, we were all tapping each other’s backs and wishing success in the retrieval of the talismans, sincerely wishing to see them outside in one hour (which actually happened!).

IMG_1268

There are lockers for personal belongings and a toilet room in the shape of Tardis. With a Where’s Waldo poster on the inside wall. Someone has a sense of humor there. 🙂

There is also a bar area in the front which connects all three quests.

Communication: The Lost Tomb uses the bell hint system. if you need your GM, ring a bell near the “portal” to the outside world and he/she will talk to you over there. Although it is a system we do not usually like, the narrative of “portals” and “time travelling” make it work.

Surroundings: Mystery rooms is located in Fitzroy, accessible by public transport and a 10min walk from famous Lygon Street, where you can find the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne. Make sure to recharge energies there, it’s totally worth it!

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