The Mystery Rooms: Chapter 3 – The Last Stand [Review]

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

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

Creativity: 10Difficulty: 9; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 8.5.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • 4-6 players
  • One player not colour blind

The search for the talisman of Courage is the background story for Mystery Room’s Chapter 3 – The Last Stand, in continuation of the adventures of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. This room is based on a real character of Australian history: the bushranger Ned Kelly, famous for battling local authorities in an improvised suit of armour. (For readers not from Australia, bushrangers were outlaws of the outback in the 19th century). As mentioned in the company’s website, “whether viewed as a hero or villain, opinion is united that few would have had the courage to walk in his footsteps, fighting for his beliefs all the way towards his ultimate and perhaps inevitable demise.”

The talisman players must find is a green scarf awarded to Ned Kelly when he was 11 years old for saving a younger lad from drowning. This memento would be worn by Ned Kelly during his last stand at Glenrowan, Victoria, in 1880 and it is just prior to this event that players will find themselves transported to. The portal to the past remains open for one hour in which the talisman of Courage must be found!

One of our friends began the game locked in a cell, and our first task was to help him get out. We explored the Victorian police station while our imprisoned friend studied his way out. Took him a while, but he had books and even a toilet. Quite a luxury for an  19th century prison! Our search uncovered that the cops were very aware of the area’s gambling scene and of who were the most dangerous types around. Ned Kelly was the big fish, but he was not alone.

Once we manage to leave the police station and venture into the Australian bush, the difficulty of the game escalated from medium to very hard in a matter of seconds. Although the area is a nice representation of the country in Ned Kelly’s time, the game becomes so busy that it felt like entering a carnival. Lots of colours, lights and games to play. Farmland, railways, bars, the adventure is very non-linear and will require every member of the team working a lot to go through.

THELASTSTANDFULL

The Last Stand follows Mystery Rooms’ tradition of very interactive, hands-on and creative games. It is the most diverse and the most puzzle-filled  of the three initial games in this venue – I counted more or less 30 steps/layers to complete the entire room. It has its pros and cons: while teams will probably be amazed by the amount of things to do and how out of the box they are, it will be very improbable that any team member will be able to observe all parts of the game. There is just so much to do and so much happening at the same time. One specific part of the was built in a way in which the player(s) solving the puzzles therein could feel segregated for a while, and can subsequently lead them to feeling a bit lost  on returning to the main area. Make sure communication is plenty and clear, so everyone stays on the same page and the fun is not spoiled!

Association and search were the most used skills in this game. The associative puzzles, however, are not obvious and players will have to think laterally to put 2 and 2 together. Also, most times solving a puzzle will not automatically give you a clue for the next, but just some apparently random elements. Again, associating them is a must. Many puzzles are related to Ned Kelly’s infamous adventures or the setting it is in – the brawls, bank robberies he was involved. Players must be ready to explore countryside Australian elements and deal with the technology of the time. No knowledge of Ned Kelly and his gang is necessary though.

If you need help, talk to the game master, who is in the room. He/she will literally be playing a role, and players will have to interact with him/her at least once to solve one of the puzzles. The role of the gamemaster in The Last Stand is quite original, and teams may lose part of the experience if they try to avoid him. We had Josh as our gamemaster  and his acting and improvising skills were very funny. Mystery Room’s  Medieval Quest also had a creative use of a gamemaster that required even more versatility. These rooms really stand out.

All the mounting props, codes and info we collected along the game about Ned Kelly and his last stand battle at Glenrowan culminated in one of the most unexpected and epic endings we’ve played in a escape room. The four of us found ourselves in the middle of a semi-chaotic recreation of historical events that tested rapid response, some physical abilities and the skill to act under mild pressure. It was crazy. It was great.

We finished The Last Stand in 54 minutes and were a bit mindblown when it all ended.  Some of us were amazed by its creativity, others somewhat frustrated with it being so big and not seeing all of the game. But we got the scarf, the so-called talisman of Courage. It was definitely a solid, great and difficult game. In Mystery Rooms we also saved the talisman of Wisdom in Chapter 1 – The Lost Tomb, and the talisman of Strength in Chapter 2 – The Medieval Quest. We would not hesitate in recommending these games to anyone who visits Melbourne. Mystery Rooms set the bar really high.

Out of the room

 

IMG_1273
The bar at Mystery Rooms with a recreation of Ned Kelly’s armour.

The large waiting area had a number of amenities including a kettle, tea, water, biscuits and other puzzles for brain warm up. There was even a toilet room in the shape of Tardis with a Where’s Waldo poster on the inside wall.

There are lockers for personal belongings  and a bar area in the front part of the venue which connects all quests.

Communication: As indicated in the review, The Last Stand has a creative hinting mechanisms which consists in interacting with the gamemaster in different ways, matching the theme and what is going on.

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.

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