Date completed: October 2017 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 7; Difficulty: 7; Atmosphere: 7.5; Fun: 8.
- Very fluent / Native English
- Full mobility
- 45 minute room
When we had our most recent opportunity to visit Melbourne, Trapspringer and I went to play Wonderland at Trapt. Although it is not new, the game still receives very good comments. Wonderland, as the name suggests, is inspired in the adventures of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’, some of the world’s greatest references in fantasy and nonsense genres. There is hardly a media without a version of Alice’s adventures: movies, plays, songs, videogames. It was just a matter of time for escape rooms to have their go, as the story itself is rich in brain-teasers and games.
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” – “No, I give it up, what’s the answer?” – “I haven’t the slightest idea”. This conversation between Alice and the Mad Hatter, in chapter 7 of the book, could very much be escape room chat!
I am a book lover and language fan, so a room full of word puzzles was a great experience – but I can also see how it could be very hard for people who think differently. So, let’s do like the King of Hearts and “begin at the beginning, and go on till we come to the end. Then stop.”
To start our adventure, we gathered around a tea table, where a little bottle with the tag “Drink Me” (very similar to the original Tenniel illustration) seemed to be the first thing to investigate. On the walls, there were signs pointing to all directions – but as we did not know where to go, any direction would do. There was also a small green door: did that mean we would grow or shrink? This first area set the tone for much of what would come ahead: most puzzles were language-based, and fluency in English was a must to solve them. We also found sets of instructions, which we followed as well as we could.
Efforts on search took us down the rabbit hole to scenarios that would emulate famous passages of the book. While not ultra-fancy, Trapt did a good job in capturing the main elements of the story and creating puzzles with them. The word puzzles appear not only in the shape of riddles, but as text interpretation. This room is also very heavy on logic (many times influenced by language tricks), and there are elements of observation and very basic math. There was only a minor ‘box within a box’ moment, but overall the puzzles and tasks were quite fun.
Resembling one of Alice’s main acts in her second book, my favourite puzzle was one that occupied a very large area. It was layered, visually interesting and cleverly adapted to the setting. We spent some time trying to solve it before the answer clicked – the concept itself was not new, but the way it was presented gave it a completely different look.
Although reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘Through the Looking Glass’ is not required to solve any of the puzzles in Wonderland, knowledge of the books can be of assistance. Even more relevant is understanding the nonsensical mindset of the story, or the ‘structure of no structure’. Does it sound crazy for you? Well, we are all mad here, the Cheshire Cat would say.
Both Trapspringer and I were surprised when we completed Wonderland with 11 minutes to spare. Our GM said it was a great result for this 45-minute room. According to her, the escape rate of this game varies from 15% to 20% and most people say the wordy puzzles are hard. While we personally thought it was an easy room, we could see how it would surely have been a challenging game for people who think more conventionally.
Besides being a escape room venue, Trapt is also a bar. We attended the networking function for escape room enthusiasts they hosted after PAX Australia, which was a lovely opportunity to meet many owners and players. There were special cocktails related to each escape room – we tried a special one available for Halloween called ‘thriller’, which was sweet and refreshing.
To finish off this review, can you follow an important character hidden in the text?
Out of the room
Service: The staff was super nice, efficient, and briefing was straightforward and professional. They made us comfortable in the large waiting area before the game.
There are lockers for personal belongings. They can also prepare a drink afterwards (or before…).
Communication: A walkie-talkie radio is provided to facilitate communications with the staff, who will send hints through a screen on the room.
Surroundings: Trapt is located in the Melbourne CBD. It is easily accessible by tram and within walking distance of the major train stations there. It is also very easy to find good food around the area.