Date completed: January 2018 (3 players). We failed to save the world!
Creativity: 6.5; Difficulty: 8; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 7.5.
- Intermediate English
- 45 minute room
The specter of nuclear ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘ (MAD) between superpowers was sobering for those who grew up during the Cold War. For the spies engaged in the silent war, trying to gain an edge for their masters was deadly business – the secrets concerning nuclear capabilities of adversaries were the Holy Grail of their profession. This conflict has been a popular theme for entertainment – novels, movies, games, and lately, even with escape rooms. Why not? Codes, ciphers, deception, subterfuge, sabotage… Espionage during the Cold War was a cerebral affair.
In Trapt’s version of this epic struggle, players have 45 minutes to prevent the MAD scenario from coming about and it all starts in an underground bunker. It’s a race against the end of the world!
The start of Espionage kicks off within an office which resembles a control room of sorts and very quickly, the cipher-heavy theme of the game becomes clear. After a cursory search, we found components for a number of puzzles which were very much focused on logic and decryption.
We soon realized that this room was a sequence of different types of ciphers and codes, and the vast majority (around 90%) of puzzles were in this category. Using the elements in the ‘office’, that turned out to hide more than it seemed at first sight, we were exposed to many types of ciphers. Those who are familiar with codebreaking and with puzzle hunts will heave a great time.
As we went deeper to uncover the nuclear plot, the types of ciphers changed, testing different types of thinking and stimuli. Some puzzles required a physical element, and having an observant searcher within the team would probably help. Knowledge of encryption methods definitely helps with this escape room – you can actually bypass many steps if you do so – however no external knowledge is necessary. There are instructions for how most of the encryptions work. Otherwise, the association between the required elements for the puzzle will be there somewhere.
We found that towards the beginning, there was a bit of confusion over the wording of a puzzle. This was a strange one as Pa, who is not a native speaker of English, had no issues navigating the true intent of that instruction, while I (and other native English speakers who have also played the room) interpreted this differently. Regardless, that particular puzzle is solvable by deductive logic.
In order to prevent a nuclear Götterdämmerung in time, players will have to complete puzzles at a fairly fast and consistent pace. The puzzles themselves were on the slightly harder end of the spectrum, and even though Pa and I were already familiar with some of the code breaking methods in the game, 45 minutes went very quickly. For those who are less familiar with codebreaking, reading through instructions may take a fair bit of time. As the game is linear, we believe that it works better for small groups of maximum 4 people. At the same time, the time limit adds challenge as there is a lot to be done.
Atmosphere wise, Espionage was pretty spartan and some props were bit worn, as Trapt has been running this room for quite some time. However, this did not work detrimentally against the room as it fit the story and setting. Especially in the later game, props were quite in theme. What is in the room matters and there was an absence of red herrings. Noting that, pay attention to what you have to work with. We slipped up and that cost us precious time. In the end, we finished 10 seconds over the time limit and the nuclear nightmare was unleashed on the world. Oh well. On an cool note, it was interesting to see how one of the final elements referenced a real life key Australian spy drama in the Cold War. Because sometimes, reality is more interesting than fiction.
Out of the room
Service: The staff was 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. As Trapt is also a bar, they can prepare a drink afterwards (or before…). We recommend booking rooms before or after happy-hour time, when the bar area gets quite quite busy.
Communication: A walkie-talkie radio is provided to facilitate communications with the staff. You request a hint through the radio and staff will send a message through a screen.
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. There is a nice burger place and a some asian restaurants on the same block.