Where: 640 King St, Newtown
How Much?: Sliding scale $37-$44 p.p depending on group size.
How Many? Billed as suitable for 2-8 people (rooms are fairly large, I’d suggest 2-4, but 6 would be comfortable)
Difficulty: House rates it 3/5
Kid Friendly? First-Timer Friendly?: Yes to both. No scary content, lots of puzzles that children could participate in, puzzles flow logically.
How we did: Completed Nov 2017. Team of 2. Both first-timers. Escaped with 5 seconds left and two clues given.
It’s 1945 and you’ve just been recruited as a spy. You receive an urgent message from another agent. She needs to meet you at a safe house where she’s been conducting surveillance. Once you arrive, you discover that she’s nowhere to be found. However, before she fled ‘Agent M’ managed to leave you a series of clues. You need to solve these puzzles to locate the secret she’s been protecting.
Where did the agent go? Why did she leave in such a hurry? And what mission does she need you to complete?
I just don’t have enough superlatives to tell you how fabulously immersive and clever this room was, and what a wonderful first escape room experience I had at The Cipher Room.
From the moment we were blindfolded and led into the room until the moment our enthusiastic gamemaster met us at the door just under an hour later, we were immersed in the WWII mission.
Our gamemaster read our brief as we stood in the dark. Our timer would start when the door closed. As the door banged shut we took off our blindfolds to find ourselves in the first room, beautifully appointed and faithful to the period – a starkly-furnished 1940s office. We immediately set to work hunting down clues to the haunting tunes of an old radio station playing in the background.
The puzzles were many and varied; lots of physical clues, locks, cryptic problem-solving, and a few pen-and-paper type puzzles (we were given a whiteboard for that eventuality!) All the puzzles were beautifully crafted with so much attention to detail, and each one fitted perfectly with the theme of the room. Nothing felt out of place, and none of the puzzles felt like you were doing them ‘just because’. Each enhanced the game’s immersion.
When we finally opened it, we found the second room as immaculately furnished as the first, with old volumes lining the shelves, and clothing and other items perfectly suited to the period. (Much of the furniture in Espionage was purchased locally from Newtown’s many second-hand shops.) Despite that, nothing looked worn out or tired – we could have been the first people to ever step into Espionage.
Only two of us working on the mission meant we could not ‘divide and conquer’. We generally worked together on each puzzle, one after another. This worked really well for us, but the sheer number of puzzles in the rooms meant that by the time we reached the third room, we were starting to suffer from mental fatigue and needed a very obvious hint to kick us off again! Three or four people would work well in this room as there were always two puzzles that could be done at the same time (although it was doable by two, especially if you’re like me and want to be involved in EVERY puzzle).
The monitoring system in Cipher room is fantastic, with the gamemaster watching every move. Simply speak to the walls and they speak back! Our gamemaster offered help along the way by saying: ‘would you like me to point your attention towards something?’ when we were clearly struggling, and his hints were very gentle, allowing us to still enjoy the satisfaction of solving each puzzle on our own.
We received our final key and raced to the door, opening it with only five seconds to spare.
Outside The Room
Service was fabulous. We were met at the door by our friendly gamemaster who explained the rules (which were very clear) and took questions (from us newbies) before taking us into the room to conduct our briefing. The foyer area was well-appointed with a number of lovely metal puzzles to play with (not that I played with any – I was too excited/nervous to get started!) Extra touches which really added to the magic of this place: a ‘welcome’ email with special instructions prior to starting the game, and an emailed photo of the team, and thank you after playing.
Cipher Room is on King Street, located amongst a plethora of trendy cafes and some excellent second-hand bookshops! You could either drive or use public transport – as we went in the middle of the day we parked on King St almost out front. St Peters is the nearest station (5 min walk).
Fabulous. I cannot recommend this place highly enough! I suspect The Cipher Room has set an extremely high bar, with every aspect of this room being immersive and exquisitely crafted. I couldn’t stop talking about this room for hours (days) after. I am an addict. Thank you Cipher Room!