Where: 2B The Corso, Manly
How Much?: $40 p.p
How Many?: Billed as suitable for 2-5 people (I’d suggest 2-3 for experienced, 3-5 newbies)
Difficulty: House rates it Beginner / Intermediate. I’d say it’s more intermediate but see my comments regarding the hint system that makes it first-timer friendly.
First-Timer Friendly?: Yes
Kid Friendly?: Yes. Several puzzles the kids could assist with, although there is one element that may scare very young children (or they might find it funny!)
How we did: Completed April 2018. Team of 2. Escaped with a few minutes remaining and a score of 118 (I think – we definitely didn’t make the leaderboard!)
Amidst the dry arid deserts of Egypt a lone building stands. It was once the study of renowned archaeologist Atlanta Smith, who has been missing and presumed dead for several months, in his quest for the treasure of Khufu. Your search for answers has taken a turn for the worst, and you’re going to need to draw on all your investigative nous and powers of deduction to solve this mystery, evade an ancient curse and escape this room alive…
A Kiwi, a Frenchman and a Brazilian walked into an escape room…
Yes, it sounds like the start of a brilliant joke, but that’s what happened when Steve, Stef and Raf, who met playing volleyball on Manly Beach, decided to open their own escape room business, Room Eight.
Having only opened in early 2018, I was keen to check out the new kids on the block and was delighted when Steve contacted me and asked me to pop along to one of his rooms. I invited The Doctor (who I’d paired up with for Cipher Room’s Espionage) to come with me, and she agreed, despite having flown in from Geneva the previous day. Needless to say, we were not confident of having our ‘A’ game, but for us, enjoyment of the room is the most important thing!
After a delightful ferry ride across Sydney Harbour and the obligatory cup of pre-escape room coffee, we arrived at Room Eight, conveniently situated on The Corso across the road from the ferry terminal. We were greeted warmly by Stef and talked shop for a bit before being led into the briefing area for the obligatory safety chat and their cool little opening video.
Stef also explained their innovative point/hint system and I think it’s definitely worth a mention in my review as it’s something no one else is doing. Room Eight uses a scoring system. You start with 200 points and lose one point for every minute you spend in the room. Along the way, you can get ‘hints’ that also cost a certain amount of points.
Inside the room, all the locks are numbered and each lock corresponds to an icon on an iPad located on the wall that offers clues for each lock. The hardest clue is cryptic, costs nothing, and focuses you towards the next lock/puzzle. The ‘medium’ clue costs 4 points and gives a strong hint, while the ‘easy’ clue costs 6 points and pretty much tells you the answer.
I really liked this system for a number of reasons. Firstly, it takes away the risk of an over-enthusiastic games master who gives too many/too obvious hints (or not enough hints) – this system allows the team to control the difficulty of the hints they’d like and lets you cater to your own level of frustration. While some people might feel that the numbered system detracts from the organic discovery of which puzzle to do when, I didn’t feel that way, particularly as the puzzles in this room were actually quite challenging, often requiring combined pieces of information to solve. I really liked being directed to the next step by a cryptic clue.
Just in case you’re wondering, this is nothing like the dreaded QR system either – there is still a dedicated games master watching your every move and a voice-of-god system in case you get (really) stuck. Cleverly catering to the passing tourist trade, Room Eight also offers their hints in several languages which I think is a fabulous innovation. It’s hard enough doing an escape room, let alone doing it in a second language!
Anyway, let’s get onto the room itself:
After we were led into the room, we took off our blindfolds (have I mentioned I love blindfolds!) and got started. The room was generously proportioned, and beautifully decorated as the study of the missing Professor Atlanta Smith (yes, someone at Room Eight has a sense of humour!) and I could already spy puzzles scattered around the room amongst the Egyptian-themed décor.
The puzzles were a good mix of fun physical challenges, lock and key, coded padlocks, mechanical and environmental puzzles. Be prepared to work as a team, read everything carefully, and use those cryptic clues! The room is fairly linear, but with a team of two, there was always plenty to do (a third set of eyes wouldn’t have gone astray). There were several carefully hidden items in the room and the door placement was ingenious.
Being a room billed as beginner friendly, I expected this room to be on the easier side, but several of the puzzles were real brainteasers! As I mentioned, there was plenty of combining of objects, lateral thinking, and teamwork required. If you’re the type of person who likes escape rooms that really make you use your brain, this is the room for you.
We only had one little hiccup along the way, accidentally opening something that we shouldn’t have opened (by complete fluke!) at the tail end of the game. We mentioned it to Stef at the cessation of the game and he was all over it, so I doubt other teams will encounter a similar problem. We still managed to escape with a few minutes on the clock.
Location / Outside the Room
Room Eight is located almost on the corner of the Corso, across the road from the ferry terminal. They’ve got plenty of signage outside and are easy to find. Being Manly, cafes, restaurants and drinking holes abound in every direction for your post-escape-room debrief. While you can park in and around Manly, I’d suggest if you’re coming from the city to make a day of it as we did and head across on the ferry.
One of the three owners was there on the day we attended and it’s wonderful to be able to chat with the masterminds behind the room and give feedback. The waiting room is on the smaller side but works for the space with a dedicated area for team briefing, which I liked.
We had a LOT of fun in this room. The puzzles were many and varied, the rooms generous and well-themed, the space well utilised. Most importantly, this room had plenty of puzzles to test our brains (which are the type we enjoy the most) and we even had a few laughs along the way! For a change from the CBD, or if you’re based north of Sydney, I’d highly recommend heading over to Room Eight and checking out their rooms. I’m really excited to be heading back this weekend for their other room, Indisposed, with the Flowerchildren and hubby.
Please note: we played at the kind invitation of the owners