Date completed: March 2018 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!
Creativity: 7.5; Difficulty: 6; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 8
- 2-6 players
- Acute senses
There was something mysterious and somewhat terrifying about the relic found by Sherwood Bloxham in the depths of the jungle. After years of search, the eccentric and brilliant researcher completed his pursuit and took the relic with him to the hut in which he lived for years, away from civilization. But madness overtook him, and he fled his hideout leaving no trace of his destination – except for a note wishing someone passionate for the jungle would take over his discoveries.
As a duo of enthusiastic explorers, Trapspringer and I were invited to try this game, designed by the team of Evolo Room Escape, and decipher the Secrets of the Jungle.
“That’s a lot of plants” was one of my first thoughts when we entered Secrets of the Jungle. Lauren and Nick, the designers of Evolo, put a lot of effort into the props used in the room, using lots of fake plants (as real ones would be quite high maintenance) and woodwork. Although the plot involved mystery, the setting was quite colourful and seemed perfect for groups that include younger players. While Evolo’s other room, International Fugitive, used mostly normal objects, this game seemed to have a majority of custom-made props.
In this setting that replicated Bloxham’s secret hut, there were at least two possible starts for the game. Both paths led towards the same direction, and once they joined, the game would continue linearly until the end. We worked together, initially, on a path that required association, dexterity and interpretation. It was lovely to see Trapspringer nail a puzzle at the first go in an area that is not usually within his strengths – because everyone has some inspired days, right?
The second path was slightly more challenging and we received a timely nudge from our gamemaster Lauren. Once our ideas were in the proper place, we advanced very quickly through an entire section of the game, comprised of logical puzzles and lateral thinking. One of the tasks required (VERY) basic knowledge of biology, and the designers actually told us they had to make it easier because players were getting answers wrong. We were quite surprised, as the “required knowledge” was something that kids learn in their first years of school – therefore, something that anyone at an escape-room-playing age should have seen – and exhaustively mentioned in books, documentaries, children’s stories, etc. A comparison I could make is someone not knowing that water evaporates to form clouds. We actually felt like Evolo should leave the puzzle be in its original form, but we also understand that teams have more fun when they don’t get stuck with things they don’t know.
That puzzle aside, we went through a set of colourful challenges that required observation and sensory skills. Are you the person that can find all the socks in the washing machine? Do you know when your friends are arriving just by the sound of their steps? Your heightened senses and ability to pick out detail will be very valuable in the later game.
Although one type of puzzle was repeated a few times along the game, it was still fun because each time it was presented in a different way for players to solve. The last part of this room required both of us to be very organized and focused. Elements of puzzles were subtly linked, but made perfect sense. And after a very quiet and concentrated task, we ended the game practically running around!
We finished Secrets of the Jungle with 18 minutes to spare, having used one hint. We saw a lot of potential in this room to attract players with an education/scientific background and their families. Our recommended team size would be 3 to 4 players. This game may be a bit on the easier side for enthusiasts, but is very good to introduce friends to escape rooms and for groups with younger players.
Lauren and Nick mentioned they already have plans for new games, so we may surely be going back to Hobart in the future to check them out. Those two are just so much fun! In Evolo, we also played International Fugitive.
Out of the room
Service: Lauren and Nick, the owners and designers of Evolo, are the funniest people around. Evolo’s Facebook page reflects a lot of their humor. They are also excellent hosts and briefings for the games were very clear.
Toilets were clean and the reception area was spacious enough for more than one group, with traditional puzzles on the centre coffee table. Speaking of coffee, Evolo sells a very cute merchandise item: a reusable cup. According to Lauren, they did this as part of a government driven initiative to encourage businesses to be more environmentally friendly.
Communication: Hints are unlimited via walkie-talkie.
Surroundings: Evolo Room Escape is a short drive/15 min walk from Hobart city centre. It is conveniently located in front of a supermarket, in a very nice looking two-storey house (photo below).
Nature-lovers and those who felt like exploring more on biodiversity after this game can also go for a walk on the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens, only 1,5km from Evolo. There are lovely collections, as the Chinese and Japanese gardens, a lily pond, a cactus garden and even a Sub-Antartic area. The Gardens were founded in 1818, only two years after its Sydney namesake, and keep a lot of information about Hobart’s early days.