Puzzled: Monkey Run! [Review]

puzzled-whiteLocation: Puzzled Room Escape, Holland Park West, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Date completed: October 2017 (4 players). We escaped!

Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 6.5; Atmosphere: 8; Fun: 9.

Requirements:

  • 3-6 players
  • No language required
  • Most of the team not colour blind
  • At least one player with full mobility

How can you escape a room of you cannot read or write? How can you escape if you are not even human? Monkey Run! has a very interesting plot that incorporates those challenges: players are a team of monkeys who are being used in experiments by Dr. Irov. Tired of not knowing if they will be alive tomorrow, they decide to escape using their monkey skills!

This room was highly recommended to us by other enthusiasts, and we could see why. The unusual background story is well translated into the setting, resulting in a room with no letters, no numbers and no common locks – as they would not make any sense for monkeys. It was more task-driven than puzzle-driven, but it did not lack logic. It was heaps of fun and bananas!

Although common in Europe, rooms that do not require any language are extremely rare in Australia – Monkey Run was probably the first of its kind we came across here. All tasks must be performed from the animal’s point of view, and the designers of Puzzled found very creative ways to make them understandable. They also managed to tell the story of the monkey who escaped and left clues for his friends (the players) to do the same in a non-verbal manner.

monkey2The room was very colourful, with elements resembling a “fake jungle” full of devices to test the monkeys’ intelligence. Most tasks necessary to escape require interaction with the room: dexterity, memory and lots of teamwork were a must. There are very few locks, and none with letters or numbers.

All the activities are very intuitive. With very little experimentation, players can find out what should be done in each of them.  There were  usually visual indications of what to do, and the signals for whether a task was successful or not were always very clear. There was also a heap of plushie bananas for the smart monkeys!

While the tasks are very fun, some have to be done by a person alone, so this room is probably better played in smaller groups. We were a group of four, and more than that would probably have been too much. Also, if you ‘fail’ in your monkey task, you may have to start again. It does not take much time, but a succession of failures may be frustrating for some. The early game is very non-linear, and as players advance, the challenges converge to a common path.

monkey1

This room was also the first time we played with a kid in our team. Our friend’s daughter (11 years old) smashed through a logic puzzle, while the three adult were still trying to ‘decipher’ some images.  She really enjoyed the experience, although she felt a bit scared in an area with less lighting. We encouraged her mentioning how well she was doing with the puzzles across the whole room and that we really needed her help to escape! Monkey Run is Puzzled’s most family friendly room and can easily cater for younger players accompanied by adults.

Through a large window in the monkey area, we could see Dr. Irov’s Laboratory – an area that actually hosts the game of same name at Puzzled. We played Monkey Run in normal mode, but in Battle Mode, half of players are monkeys and half are scientists, and they play both rooms at the same time. According to Andrew, a reviewer at the Brisbane Geek Social Club, while the monkeys have more hands-on tasks, the scientists will deal with more logical puzzles – that and both the scientists and the monkeys will be able to see (and distract) each other through the glass! This is a pretty unique method of a competition room and certainly not one we had come across yet.

Our GM Tom gave us a walkie-talkie for hints, but we did not need it along our adventure. After some demonstration of flexibility of our team members (and the advantage of having two short people in the group), we escaped the monkey enclosure with 22min left on the clock – an amazing time! For the escape picture, lots of monkey hats, masks and even a bana costume. Monkey Run was one of the most fun experiences we had in Brisbane, which we would surely recommend if you can go beyond the city centre.

In Puzzled we also played Haunted Academy.

Out of the room

Service: Tom was a very attentive GM who had a nice chat to us after the games. He was very updated about the escape room situation in Australia and some Asian countries. He told us about his process of designing many of the puzzles used in the venue’s games.

Puzzled has boxes for personal belongings at the reception, water and toilets. There are also soft drinks for purchase.

Communication: A walkie-talkie radio is provided to facilitate communications with the GM.

Surroundings: Puzzled is located in Holland Park West, a 15 min drive from Brisbane city centre. There is free parking available, and for those using public transport, bus stop is 150 away. Most of he surrounding shops are on the DIY style, such as Bunnings and Spotlight.

Monkey Run! was also reviewed by Gotta Get A Room.

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