Jan 21

Firstly I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and got to spend time with family and loved ones.    Covid has been a trying time for all of us.

With our readership growing each month its lovely to see you all passing this onto everyone we have reached 2.5K of readers for the last issue and hope this just keeps growing.

We know 2020 was a challenging year for lots of Escape Room companies and hope that with the help of this e-magazine and fellow enthusiasts the industry will pull through.

We are always open to feedback to help improve this magazine feel free to email us at:


Enthusiasts and GamesMasters feel free to send us your stories, we would love to hear about them.

Owners, please keep us updated on any new rooms you have opening, we would love to promote them for you.

Please feel free to share this magazine to fellow Escape Room Enthusiasts by clicking on the share icon on the bottom tool bar.

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If you would like to advertise in the magazine email us at era@eludegames.com.au and we will send you an information pack.

Who are we?

Escape Rooms Canberra is made up of myself (Michael), Mitch and Tom, plus a bunch of awesome game masters and bartenders that make up our staff.

It all started back in 2015 when I was studying creative writing and journalism at the University of Canberra, and I was tasked with writing a culture piece on life in Canberra. I thought I had found a massive scoop when I stumbled on two guys by the names of Chris and Jesse (from Riddle Room, if you hadn’t already guessed it) who had launched a Kickstarter to open Canberra’s first escape room. I tried to hit them up for the story, but my messages didn’t get through, so instead, I decided to go to Melbourne and interview Owen Spear, founder of Escape Rooms Melbourne, the first escape room in Australia. We talked, and the dreaded “what are you doing after uni?” question came up. With absolutely no prospects, Owen advised that I should start an escape room back in Canberra.

Jump across the map a little and Mitch is in Malaysia, smashing through several escape rooms a day and loving it. We both come to each other with an idea. It’s the same idea. Let’s start an escape room!

Since then we have opened three rooms, Magic, Salem and more recently, The Vault, a cocktail bar, Garden Party, and have another two rooms that we will (hopefully) open in 2021, Curio and Break. More recently – with the almost endless free time given to us by the COVID-19 shutdown – we have created and released a card game called Psycho Killer.

Each new project, be it building escape rooms, creating a cocktail menu of spending dozens of hours on Photoshop creating cards, has been a learning experience and a journey that we have been thrilled to take.

So what’s next? As of writing this on January 1st, 2021 (cutting it fine, I know) we have another shipment of Psycho Killer games due to arrive very soon. We also have two, half-finished rooms that we are very excited to release, plus a new outdoor game that we are running, so we have our plates both very full and spinning as well. Once all of that is finished, I guess it will be time to sit back for a little while, kick our feet up and take a breath. After that, who knows? But that’s the most exciting part.”

Cheers Michael.

Congratulations to our winners.

Kim Edwards & Mark Sutherland

Check your emails on how to claim your prize.

New Game


Narrow Tech Systems is largely known as being at the forefront of scientific discovery. Your team has been handpicked to steal a revolutionary piece of technology that will change the world. It’s the Biggest Score of your lives, its your chance to prove your skills. Stealth is key to the success of this operation. Can you get in, steal the item and get out Undetected?

Difficulty: can vary to cater for first timers, children’s parties and family groups through to experienced players

Duration: 60 minutes

Players: 2–6

New Game—Fear

Forget. Everything. And. Run.

There is a woman in the woods who you suspect has priceless jewels you wish to steal. An insider leads you out to her cabin so that you may begin your heist. You can be assured that things go terribly wrong.

Age Restriction: 15 +
WARNING: Crawling, smoke, small spaces and flashing lights in this game.

Click anywhere on the map to take to you an active Map of all the Escape Rooms in Australia

There are plenty of amazing escape rooms in almost all parts of the world.

I think finding them is a lot more difficult that we as enthusiasts give credit for, especially new players.

For those deep in the fandom we rely a lot on word of mouth from fellow enthusiasts. A simple “____ is good” goes a long way in our world and there are many escape room communities dedicated to different regional areas at our disposal that we can prod and ask for recommendations. Just a simple “I’ll be in ___ what’s worth playing?” will yield tons of answers and it is thorough these methods I have encountered quality rooms again and again. This routine is like the secret handshake within the community. It’s quick, easy, free and gets the desired results. Cool, we can just dust our hands of this topic and get back to solving more puzzles.

Except that in order to know the secret handshake you gotta be inducted into the club first. The process is easy but one has to know that the process exists in the first place. The general public is not going to go through the arduous process of searching for a group online, waiting to be accepted then try to sift through scores of threads in order to find a room.

I partake in a lot of interactive media that requires the user to buy in, movies, games and theme parks and out of all these hobbies, escape rooms are the only group that the end user does not have a means to “sample” the experience. Games have demos, movies have trailers, heck you can find ride POVs of your favourite attractions at Disneyland. You don’t really get those sort of things with escape rooms. Maybe you’ll run into a company that will make a game trailer showing off the room or at least give you some teaser pictures but just as often games are only shown to have a piece of original art (or worse…stock photos). Picking a room often feels like a gamble when the information pool is so limited.

At times like these, the general public turns to the old standbys, Google Reviews, Yelp and TripAdvisor

I can hear the groans now and I’m sure we can all list or grievances with these platforms until night and day. However before I go in deeper, I first have to ask the question, what do enthusiasts not trust reviews here as much?

I don’t think escape room enthusiasts see little value in this sites due to the general experience level of the players leaving reviews.s have not developed the proper knowledge and language to articulate their thoughts in a manner that will give insight toward the reader.

As an example let’s me pull up a review for a local game I found on Yelp.

“One of the best escape rooms ever ! This is one of the most Immersive escape rooms out there. This place is a must try with a group of friends or team. It’s a really fun activity to do as a team building exercise. You definitely need to reserve in advance and you have an hour to escape! Rooms are around $40 a person and they have a minimum and maximum number of groups depending on the type of the room. Highly recommend !”

While this review does a great job in expressing how the writer feels about the game, it’s not as strong in telling you WHY the game is good. Speaking with various Escape Room owners they often stress how much business they get based off of yelp as high star ratings and large review numbers really help draw people’s eye while written passages can seal the deal. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google. These places are a great place for advertising as they’re read by a large group of people and us as players are doing a disservice to all the games we love by not taking the time to write our thoughts down

So how can we make things better?

I propose a two tier solution from. On the player end I suggest we start leaving reviews on these platforms. In addition we should be writing them in ways that empower the reader to be able to make an informed decision. In Roger Ebert’s article “Critic is a four-letter word” he had this to say

“I believe a good critic is a teacher. He doesn’t have the answers, but he can be an example of the process of finding your own answers. “

Personally I like to talk about a room’s theme, how the puzzles add (or distract) from the story, quality of the set construction, prop condition, level of tech, puzzle logic, staff attentiveness and how many rooms I played. The end goal is to let new and old players get an impression of not only how I feel but arm them with the tools to make as sound of a judgement as possible without spoiling any of the surprises.

The second part of the pla is to encourage more owners to prepare teaser images of their games. Trailers, custom art, a photo of cool prop give us something to see that way we know that we will be choosing a crafted experience that is worth our money. I’m not asking for movie tier sets but I am asking for just enough to show us that you care. If players are going the extra mile to write their reviews then we ask you do what you can to make our job finding good games easier.

In the end writing reviews only helps the community as it serves as advertisement for games as well help steer players in the right direction. It may not seem like a lot but the 10 minutes you take posting on Google will go a long way. 

Gerardo Paz

Firstly, a huge thank you to all of our customers for supporting us over the past 12 months.This year has certainly been a challenge for everyone however it has also helped us grow our business to a whole new level.

We started the year out with Bush Fires and to support those in need ran a competition and took two of our amazing customers to the Fire Fight Concert.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Suddenly going from January being our busiest month on record to a negative income as we refunded many forward bookings.

We realised that we had to source another income and designed and developed Mystery Mail, a puzzle pack that got posted to your family or friends. However, they had no idea that you sent it to them until they solved all the puzzles and put their answer into a webpage that revealed your personal message and identity.


We launched Traveller’s Tales in April selling out of the first 50 in no time at all. We have gone on to produce another 5 different packs, Enchanted Forest, Robot Madness, Birthday Bash, Between the Spreadsheets and Santa’s Helpers.

Meanwhile, our friends in the industry in Germany and Austria developed online games through our booking system QuinGames and we were able to launch these in Australia to our customers.


We also introduced a professional online shopping system on our website which allowed us to stock various forms of games and puzzles from the Exit Series, Unlock, Escape the Room right down to Cryptex, Metal Puzzles and Mystery based Jigsaw puzzles.

We are constantly adding to our online shop, so check in regularly for new products and releases.All items can be posted or collected from Elude in Galston.


Throughout the whole year we worked with our Town Planner and managed to secure the approval of Council to build our next 4 escape rooms and a CARPARK!!!.Darren and I will be busy trying to get these built and open for you to enjoy.

We also launched Escape Rooms Australia e-Magazine (ERA).Knowing how many fellow escape room owners were struggling through COVID, we seized the opportunity to help promote the industry as a whole across Australia by publishing bi-monthly e-Mag all things escape room related.

We would like to recognise the dedication of our staff, who have stuck with us during these difficult times, stepping up to the plate and taking on other duties to help us through.Thankyou Emma, Catherine, Michelle, Loren and Jason for everything you have done this year, we couldn’t have done it without you.

With an extra special mention to Emma for making herself available extra hours to help produce all of our Mystery Mail packs; you are one amazing woman.We would like to wish Emma every success with her PhD which she started this year, after successful completion of her Masters in Forensic Science.

We would like to wish everyone an amazing New Year and hope that 2021 brings lots of new escape rooms as we are running out of them to do now!!

Julia & Darren

Symbol Cipher

For a lot of casual code breaking enthusiasts, most ciphers are pretty recognisable. They often still use letters and a particular format (such as letter substitution). In fact, even something like a pigpen cipher can be easily identified once you know how the basic corners, squares and dots of its messages are actually made.

But today, there are plenty of escape rooms and games who have gone beyond just using conventional formats. These take the simple act of letter substitution while using a cipher that has symbols inspired by ancient glyphs or lettersentirely made up.

Thus, we have the category ofsymbol-based ciphers.

A Game of Runes and Glyphs

If you are creating a symbol-based cipher, the framework is simple enough. You take the regular alphabet and assign a special symbol to each one. Then, just use the symbols accordingly.

The painstaking part is designing the symbols themselves.

But obviously, this is where the fun is too! It is like creating your own little world with its own language. And from a player’s perspective, who hasn’t been mystified by the sight of a game puzzle bearing magical words written in runic script. A tomb mechanisms locked behind pillars topped with mysterious glyphs?

Unlike other well-known ciphers, symbol-based ciphers use more of something that has been completely made up for the purpose of a puzzle challenge. This can really take players off guard, but it is a fine display of artistry and cryptography all in one.

Countering the Puzzle’s Spell

When it comes to professional, real-world cryptography, the basis of a symbol-based cipher can still make it as easy to identify as a simple Caesar cipher. Texts can be scanned using tools that measure frequency of certain symbols and check them against letter frequencies in real-world languages.

However, not everyone has access to such advanced tools and it can be problematic for those who are easily thrown off by the fantastical designs of the symbols.

On the bright side, the cipher should be readily available in some parts of a challenge to keep it fair and balanced for players. The trick though is to really be immersed in the game’s world and narrative to find that key.

For example, if you’re in a fantasy-themed escape room and you need to decipher a door supposedly leading to an elvish king’s tomb. Then the key might be written on a spell book, a tablet or some other thematic prop..

Other symbol-based puzzles may not even be containing messages at all but a means to arrange symbols in a specific order to unlock the next room. It is a sort of challenge that really requires everyone to pay attention to detail and get really imaginative.

In any case, there is no denying that symbol-based cipher challenges are really one of the coolest things ever made. Both for code makers and code breakers alike. It is simple enough at its core, but still opens the door for creativity and immersion. Don’t get too thrown off by the magical glyhps, but definitely enjoy playing along as you learn its language.

Create an Escape Room Meme using one of the pictures below.

Screen shot the image, add your text and email to us at era@eludegames.com.au 

Win a prize if we publish your Meme.

Solve the puzzle, click button below to check your answer. Correct answers win a discount code off all Exit Games.

Where to find useful links and information.


Escape Room Enthusiasts—Australia and New Zealand.

Blog Reviews on Rooms

Sydney and Beyond Escape Room blog post by Scott Monin.

Map of Escape Rooms

Click the image to take you to a full map of Escape Rooms in Australia.

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