Escape Manor: The Asylum [Review]

manor-logo-navLocation: Escape Manor, Brisbane City,  QLD, Australia

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

Creativity: 8; Difficulty: 7.5; Atmosphere: 8; Fun: 8.5.

Requirements:

  • 2-6 players (Public Booking)
  • 45-minute room
  • Basic English
  • 1 player not colour blind

When we travel, we do enjoy to take part in ghost tours. Not exactly for the supernatural parts, but hearing the specific stories of people who previously lived in places tends to be interesting. So we found it quite curious that The Asylum’s story revolved around a group of strangers on a ghost tour to visit an abandoned mental facility. It was a very clever plot, as Escape Manor does public bookings (something not common in Australia) and the group can indeed be formed by strangers. The names and places cited by the gamemaster’s briefing actually existed in Brisbane in the early 20th century.

So there we were, ready to embark in a ‘tour’. Our guide was quite enthusiastic about the visit to the mental facility. A bit TOO enthusiastic. He closed the door behind us, and all we could hear was a maniac laugh….

As with our experience in Escape Manor’s The Covenant, the excellent in-character performance by gamemaster (GM) Peter during the briefing really set the tone for The Asylum. In our opinion, this kind of involved and entertaining intro also helps break the ice among strangers in a public booking.

Once we ventured into the medical facility, we found a pristine and well lit environment with no blatantly obvious clues to puzzles. Searching skills are essential in this game and there are some clever ways Escape Manor hides things in the setting. It was also interesting that a few puzzle elements were customised to players in the team, which would have had to have been done extremely quickly during the room’s set up, especially as the venue does public groups with random strangers. This was certainly the case for the couple with us in The Asylum – they decided to join us for this game after we had such a good time playing The Covenant together, and the GMs had barely a couple of minutes to customise the room.

manor-Asylum3
This is not a generic stock picture, but actually a photo of The Asylum.

Despite being a creepy setting, everything was well lit and the medical facility theme was consistent in the props and puzzles. The tour guide’s infrequent appearances in the background provided part scare factor, part comic relief. One memorable jump scare wasn’t a part of the actual game at all but was added in as a bit of improv and was quite funny.

As mentioned, the ability to search is quite a significant skill in The Asylum, particularly in the start of the game, which is non-linear and has different starting points depending on what you find. What was also interesting is that players do not start with a walkie-talkie to communicate with the gamemaster and it had to be found somewhere in the room. We only found ours almost 20 minutes into the game, after one of those short encounters with the tour guide. He gave us a clue to steer us a little towards the device that would give us clues…

Once we found all required pieces for the puzzles, they were mostly a combination of logic and association, however, some elements were very physical. They were all creative and in-theme, so the advancement through the game felt rewarding. The more we solved, the more layers we found towards a main puzzle that we worked through during most of the game. The final part of the game and the props built for it were so unexpected that it required the four of us being hands-on to make it work. A photo of that moment would probably be very, very funny.

Given the size and number of puzzles, The Asylum would place a slightly difficult challenge for teams up to four players. It can easily accommodate the six-player limit.

Accessibility wise, a player with reduced mobility would have no issues moving around most of the room, with only one section late game posing a problem for their entry. However, they would not be required to move there and can contribute to the final stages of escape remaining in place. Not giving any spoilers of course, but we found Escape Manor to be a very wheelchair friendly environment. We can only speak for The Covenant and The Asylum, having not played their other games (yet).

We escaped The Asylum with no more than a minute to spare, very pumped and excited. Due to the high quality of games in Escape Manor, we will surely pay this venue a visit next time we visit Brisbane.

manor-Asylum2

Out of the room

Service: Our gamemaster was Peter, one of the owners. He was in character during the entire session, and his acting skills are impressive – sometimes quite scary! Player’s belongings were stored in boxes at the reception during the game. Toilets were clean.  Escape Manor’s waiting area was very spacious and stylish, which can be good for corporate bookings.

Communication: A walkie-talkie radio was provided to facilitate communications with the gamemaster – but we had to find it in the room! We needed a couple of nudges for The Asylum, thankfully most of them after we found the device.

Surroundings: Escape Manor is located in Brisbane’s city centre, in a very accessible location by bus or ferry, or a short walk from Central station. Players who enjoy some shopping can walk to the Queen Street Mall just a few blocks away, and there are hundreds of places to eat around. We usually go on ghost tours in the cities we visit, but we haven’t done one yet in Brisbane – Maybe next time!

The Asylum was also reviewed by Gotta Get a Room.

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