The Mystery Rooms: Chapter 4 – A GRIMM Finale [Review]

mystery-headerlogoLocation: The Mystery Rooms, Fitzroy (Melbourne), VIC, Australia

Date completed: April 2018 (5 players). Succeeded escaping (juuuust in time)!

Creativity: 9.5; Difficulty: 8.5; Atmosphere: 9; Fun: 8.5.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • 4-6 players
  • Acute senses
  • Full mobility
  • Warm clothes
  • Some knowledge of fairy tales highly recommended

Once upon a time, a group of escape room enthusiasts entered a series of quests to retrieve the talismans of Strength, Knowledge and Courage. With those magical items, they could  restore the separation between the realms of Reality and Fantasy, and avoid an invasion by the forces of the Snow Queen. Backed by a secret organization called GRIMM, our heroes departed into a chilling adventure!

We were invited by the Mystery Rooms to try Chapter 4 – A GRIMM Finale, which is a special escape room for those who have previously completed the other three (excellent) games in the venue, where you obtain the aforementioned talismans. It is an intense game that keeps the entire team busy! And a piece of advice, which will sound like something a mother would say: bring a jacket!

Why do we stress out the point of wearing warm clothing? Well, because you are going to enter the realms of the Snow Queen. The Mystery Rooms are renown for working very hard on the atmosphere of their games, so Snow Queen’s realm is quite cold! Once you get there, the wintery kingdom will be 10 degrees below the rest of the venue, so it is good to be prepared.

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We received a video briefing from Poppet, a GRIMM agent who informed us of the Snow Queen’s nefarious plans and how the key to thwarting her involved the use of  the talismans we found in previous games – Excalibur, The Book of the Dead, and Ned Kelly’s scarf. The designers of this room made a good job in tying all the strands together and yes, the items you found in earlier games matter!

There is a lot of hard work to be done before  reaching the domains of the queen and we firstly invaded the office of the Bad Wolves, where no GRIMM agent had ever entered before. Our team took a while to figure out how each talisman worked, but we eventually got it right and were overwhelmed by a lot – I mean A LOT – of fairy tales references. For a La FontaineAndersenGrimm fan like myself, exploring the area was a sequence of ‘waahhh’ and ‘woooww’ and ‘hahahah’. Literature nerds will have a great time connecting each prop to its original story, and there are many of them to go through!

The start of the game in completely non-linear, and players have at least 3 paths to choose from at the beginning, while exploring the office. The place is very well decorated, in a style that resembles a mix of German traditional woodwork with Disney.  Props of all sizes and shapes are plentiful, so players need to be organised to keep track of everything happening around them. Also, the nature of some puzzles will make players move around a bit and up and down – be careful on the magical staircase, as the steps can be deceivingly short! Make sure to look everywhere and try to see the big picture. This room requires being able to think and observe things waaaaay out of the box. It also requires players in being curious enough to interact with their environment in different ways.

One of the strongest traits of A Grimm Finale is the variety of puzzles, creativity and the innovative approach to otherwise normal puzzles. While most puzzles required solely association and observation, they were presented in such a pretty way that players will surely have a great time solving them.

Our team of five divided in two groups to be able to tackle all the tasks around us – we did not want to risk failing our mission and turn into pumpkins, frogs or all those things that happen in fairy tales. Two particular puzzles required three people to be solved properly – one of them made our team burst in laughter, while the other made us yell a lot (until we realized we could have actually saved our voices…).

gingerbread

There were plenty of puzzles to solve and the way they were related was not immediately obvious. As we had no crystal ball, our brains had to do the job. Not all elements necessary for a puzzle were located together, so being organized was important. Also, some objects were very remarkable elements of the stories, so we had an idea of what to do with them, or what effect they should produce. This was very cool, and some of the most interesting sensory puzzles fell into this group. Having a good knowledge of Cinderella, Puss in Boots and their friends was not essential, but surely made our life easier. One puzzle required what could be considered external knowledge – but it was very basic, and the gamemaster (GM) would be ready to help if necessary. There were also some nicely placed Easter eggs.

Speaking of the GM, Mystery Rooms once again found a great way to insert them in the room without breaking immersion. In Medieval Quest and The Last Stand, we were amused by the interaction with the GM. In Grimm Finale, players may be surprised by his/her first appearance, totally matching the theme of the room and quite ‘fantastic’ due to the innovative use of theatrical techniques. When we played, there was a small issue with the sound volume for communication, however Mystery Rooms said the issue has already been fixed.

We played the special 75-minute version of this room, available only for its release period, in April 2018. We reached the Snow Kingdom with less than 20 minutes to go, and lucky for us, the puzzles there were slightly easier than those in the Bad Wolves’ office. Our GM Josh later explained that the room was designed that way so players would not stay in the cold for too long. A series of visual puzzles, riddles and a magical combat against the Snow Queen marked the end of our adventure, and we escaped with less than a minute left on the clock.

Since then, Chapter 4 – A Grimm Finale has been adapted to the traditional 60-minute format, and it is probably a smoother game now. According to info from Mystery Rooms, they improved a few items and took away two puzzles that, in our opinion, were the least interesting ones. Despite the simple plot – heroes use magical items to save the world – the idea of an exclusive room available only to people who have done the other adventures was quite exciting. And as we have come to expect from this venue, Mystery Rooms delivered another beautiful and challenging game.

In Mystery Rooms we also played: Chapter 1- The Lost Tomb, Chapter 2 – A Medieval Quest and Chapter 3 – The Last Stand. They are all highly recommended and a must-do if you are an escape room enthusiast going to Melbourne.

Who’s the smartest of them all? Photo: The Mystery Rooms / TripAdvisor

Out of the room

Service: Our GM Josh made a great job connecting the stories of previous games to the briefing and rules of this new adventure. The development of immersion was enhanced by Mystery Rooms’ actual waiting area, which was built to look like a wood log cabin headquarters of GRIMM. There were some puzzles and brainteasers to warm up our brains, but with a nice twist: some of them actually had prizes (such as chocolates)! IMG_1268

There are lockers for personal belongings and a toilet room in the shape of Tardis. There is also a bar area at the reception which will provide a complimentary refreshment to successful players.

Communication: A Grimm Finale has a distinctive system for hints. In practice, it is the GM inside the room, but do not frown upon it! It was a very creative and funny way to do this, and we really enjoyed having to ask him for hints. Luckily we did not have to rhyme every time (and you will understand when you see it). Hints are unlimited and there is no time penalty.

Surroundings: The Mystery Rooms are located in Fitzroy, buzzing district in Melbourne, easily accessible by public transport. There are nice cafes and restaurants at walking distance that the staff at Mystery Rooms will gladly recommend. We particularly liked Naked for Satan, a pintxos bar – very cheap and with delicious Basque snacks.

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