Jun 22

Welcome back to the next issue of Escape Rooms Australia.

Congratulations to those who have opened new rooms or venues recently. It is great to see our industry growing and I’m sure all of the Enthusiast’s out there are itching for more rooms.

Darren and I have finally gotten back out to do some rooms ourselves this year. My top pick so far would have to be La Rebellion at The Cipher Room in Sydney Newton. We do however have a trip to Melbourne planned next week where we have 19 escape rooms booked in 5 days. We can’t wait!!!.

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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.

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Darkness presses in from every corner. The air is thick with menace… You open your eyes and have found yourself in the lair of Dracula, he toys with his victims until they are ripe with fear before feasting on their blood. Can you escape this cold and dreary dungeon before he awakes from his slumber or will you fall victim to his bite!

2- 6 Players
Recommend age group 13 years and above

60 Minutes

The School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Flying around the castle grounds at night is forbidden! After getting caught, you and your team are in detention and your brooms have been taken by the headmaster. An urgent owl calls him away to an important task for the ministry, so now is your chance! Can you sneak out of detention and into his office to grab your broom without getting caught?

2- 6 Players

Difficulty: 4/5

60 Minutes

Founders Keepers

After your plans to dominate the world were foiled by secret agents in an Espionage mission, you and your fellow COBRA operatives devise another scheme to steal the world famous Serpent Diamond, worth over 2 billion dollars.
The diamond is highly protected by Founders National Bank, but the security guard is away for about an hour.

Given this opportunity, it might be your only chance to break in, slip through security and steal the Serpent Diamond.

(Difficulty rating 6/10)

Players: 2-4

60 Minutes

Knights Templar

After saving a woman’s life, your team were hailed as heroes and instantly famous.  As life was slowly returning to normal, you received a strange letter containing an internet café key card, and this note:

“Prove to us that you are truly worthy, and your rewards will be immeasurable.”

Curiosity and the chance of a big payday, lure you all to the internet café as instructed.  The room is empty, but you see a message on a computer screen – it’s a puzzle!   Before you know it, you are on a quest to uncover the mysteries shrouding a religious order thought to be disbanded over 700 years ago.   You are in the inner-sanctum of the Knights Templar…


This is a diverse experience and a unique twist on other medieval themed games, as it is set in modern times.  The initial setting is an internet café where players need to solve several computer-based puzzles to be allowed into the inner-sanctum of an ancient secret society.  But from then on, the environment and puzzles become more mysterious and historical, the further you progress.  

Level of Difficulty:  Advanced

Group Size / Ages:  2 to 8 people – Ages:  12+ 

60 Minutes

Pharaoh Room

Why not warm up with a session at Missing Klues in Orange? As you know, in ancient Egypt, the pharaohs were buried with their treasures. Imagine you are one of the archaeologists on a quest to acquire the artifacts when you realise you should not have opened the sarcophagus after all. Do you hear that noise? That’s the mummy of pharaoh. I think he woke up!

Difficulty – 8/10

Players: 2-6

60 Minutes

Jungle Room

Having heard the mysterious sound of drums, your friends and you decide to investigate an abandoned garret. You suddenly find yourself involved in a game you didn’t sign up for. Strange sounds and mysterious animals appear from different sides. Not only the game result, but your future depends on your next key steps.

Difficulty – 9/10 (most difficult room)

Players: 2-6

60 Minutes

Pirate Room

Imagine you are in the very heart of the Caribbean Sea in paradise on a tropical island. It won’t be long before you realise it is not so heavenly though. An abandoned pirate hut on a cliff becomes a trap as its bloodthirsty one-eyed owner is set to return from hunting soon. Believe us, he will make you his trophy with immense pleasure. Are these silent walls what you wish to see in the last moments of your life?

Difficulty rating – 6.5/10

Players: 2-6

60 Minutes

Aunt Annie’s Asylum

Aunt Annie was beautiful and extremely manipulative. She lured perfectly healthy patients into her hospital boasting about her miraculous cures for everyday ailments. However, behind closed doors, the patients were subjected to horrific and torturous experimental procedures. Once a patient entered the Asylum, they never escaped…

2 to 6 players
Age guide 12+
Difficulty rating: Med
60 minutes

Area 52

You have infiltrated the Area 52 base camp, only to find it completely deserted. All signs point to an imminent alien invasion, you will need to escape the room before it is too late! This escape room is family friendly and lots of fun, book now to secure your spot at Area 52!

2 to 6 players
Age guide 10+
Difficulty rating: Med
60 minutes

The Wizard’s Apprentice

As you conclude your final year at the Academy of Magic, it is time to take your BEWT (Brutally Exasperating Wizarding Test)! Your BEWT will put your magic skills to the test by completing a series of spells to unlock your FELMAS 2000 broomstick. If you are successful, you will graduate to full Wizardry status.

2 to 6 players
Age guide 7+
Difficulty rating: Easy
60 minutes

The Mob Job (A Murder Mystery)

Tommy Bonnetti, the head of the infamous mafia family has hired you to solve a multiple murder mystery that took place in his VIP lounge. He wants to keep it in the family and you must solve this before the cops do. Tommy has arranged a window of just 60 minutes for you to enter the crime scene and solve this mafia murder mystery.

2 to 6 players
Age guide 12+
Difficulty rating: Hard
60 minutes

Click above puzzle image for Answer

Congratulations to our winners.

Helen and Nicolas – please check your emails

The Adventure of Interpreting Greek

Many of the groups I host have English as their second language. Australia being as multicultural as it is, it’s great to see that escape rooms appeal to anyone and everyone. Yet it can be pretty tricky to follow how players problem solve when you don’t understand a single word they are saying.
We use a video camera and microphone system to monitor teams, to try and keep you on a steady momentum through our rooms. A well-timed clue can avoid being stuck beyond the point of enjoyment on a particular puzzle, and we want you to experience as much of it as possible.

I’ve noticed several things that transcend language and cultural backgrounds: mocking laughter between friends, childish giggles from mature adults, the ‘oooh’ of surprise and the ‘ahh’ of comprehension, shoulders slumped in defeat or the jubilant outburst of energy depending on whether they are stuck or successful on a puzzle. But what about concepts that need specific words?

Last week I was hosting a group in a room that has a clue delivered via a song that was played when triggered by the players. It’s a fairly well known one, and the hint is in the title (so I won’t divulge it here). Think “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles played to direct you to, yes, a yellow submarine prop. A song I know pretty well but I could figure it out even without having heard it before (especially when I can look around and see a huge ‘yellow submarine’ over there). You definitely need to go find this item to advance through the room.

The group didn’t catch the clue. They were certainly discussing what to do next (I think), but given where they looking (i.e. not at the ‘yellow submarine’) they were just going to keep losing time. Our on-screen hint tells the team to play the song again.
Nope, no help. Even though the next hints we have will spell out the song title, and then point to where the ‘yellow submarine’ is (via photo with giant cartoon arrow), there is still a sense that the room loses a bit of something when a team doesn’t get the full experience of the puzzle as we designed it and they miss out on their ‘AHA!’ moment.

So the question for Escape Room designers is: how much can we ask of players’ English skills? Can we stay away from language-based puzzles such as anagrams or riddles, or avoid homographs, heteronyms and homonyms (e.g. ‘tears’ and ‘tears’, or ‘tires’ and ‘tires’)? Or do we just trust that either our players have enough knowledge of the tricks that English contains (and we deviously work into our puzzles)?

Many rooms in Europe and Canada have laminated word-based clues in dual languages (one either side of the sheet), generally with English being that second option. Another alternative is to just follow more universal problem styles: number- or spatial- based puzzling, or pattern analysis such as you would find in intelligence tests.

It’s a tricky balance to maintain in designing an Escape Room experience: there has to be difficulty somewhere, and the better rooms are those that have a variety of puzzle styles. Making sure your team has a wide range of skills is a great way to be successful (a team of me and five of my clones would be be collectively stuck on the first puzzle requiring mathematics).
Ultimately, if a team didn’t need any help at all from me as a host, I’d be out of a job…

Hey want your anecdote published – drop us a line era@eludegames.com.au with Story in the subject line.

Mary Queen of Scots Cipher

We’re back to a substitution cipher in this edition, but one with a special twist. All my 1990s Microsoft Word users might see echoes of the Wingdings font (which isn’t a bad place to start if you want inspiration for your own symbol creation), but this one goes back a lot further than that.

The cipher system we are looking at now was developed in the 16th Century by Mary Stuart in captivity. The then Scottish Queen was trying to contact her supporters. The young royal was found to have used 100 iterations of her cipher, which used a series of symbols in a direct substitution for the alphabet, with a mix of shapes, numbers and misattributed letters. Some elements even stood in for short or commonly used words. (please note: the message above isn’t actually from Mary)
We’ve included one of her cipher charts, or ‘nomenclator’, here, and further down list some of the symbols she used for short words, as well as unique icons to designate a double (‘dowbleth’) letter, and a variety of figures indicating a space (‘nulles’) just to trip up codebreakers a bit extra. Beware ye olde English (we’ve extended it to include our current alphabet).

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
With a bespoke code like this, it helps [as usual] to have a key. What led to the demise of dear Mary was that she trusted the wrong people – her faithful messenger was not so faithful, instead carrying her secret messages via her captors, who gradually deciphered enough to convict and execute her.
Frequency analysis – counting how often symbols were used and in what groupings, was how Sir Francis Walsingham (spymaster to Queen Elizabeth I) and his staff cracked this code. How do you do this? We’ll definitely look closer at it in a future edition, but the basic version: think about the letter tiles in Scrabble and their values. The more commonly used the letter (E, S, T, N, A, etc) the lower the tile value. The more rarely used (Q and Z), the higher the value.
When you can figure out which symbols are being used the most, you can usually narrow down what letter it is going to be. Unless of course your code maker is extra cheeky…

There’s something about Mary’s code
And what makes Mary’s cipher extra cheeky was its use of shorthand. As history moved along, this would become more prolific; when your space and resources are limited, being able to contract your message is going to be helpful.
Mary could just send out “∆Ꝝmkɏ” and her support would read it as “Send my brother to the Lord of Cobham”.
Some of her other condensed terms included words like these:

Royal application
This is a fun one to use in an Escape Room, or even to make a personal code with friends. Just don’t try and use it for overthrowing a government(!). If you find a list of short messages and a selection of irregular letters (or symbols) to go with them in your Escape Room, it is likely to be a similar style of cipher: one tailor made for people stuck in that exact room trying to get out! Go find the key!

The Dine & Discover Vouchers and we can accept the Parents Vouchers of 5 x $50 vouchers, if you didn’t know you can use all 5 on one day unlike the Discover vouchers.

Discover Vouchers EXPIRE 30th June 2022

Make sure you book your escape room experience and use these before they expire.

  • Dubbo Escape Rooms
  • Elude Escape Rooms
  • Escape Hunt Sydney
  • Escape Rooms Albury
  • Escape Rooms Central Coast
  • Labyrinth Escape Rooms
  • Mission Escape
  • Narrow Escape Roomsf
  • Next Level Escape
  • Parapark Sydney
  • Room Eight Escape Rooms
  • Scram Escape Rooms
  • Social Escape Rooms Sydney
  • The Cipher Room

Below is a link to the business finder to see who is registered to accept the vouchers.

Business Finder

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