Room Review: The Bank of Australia Heist @ Escape Hunt Sydney

 

Where: Level 4, 393 George Street, Sydney

Website: https://sydney.escapehunt.com/

Contact: sydney@escapehunt.com

How Much?: $36-$44 p.p depending on group size

How Many?: Suitable for 2-5 people (I think a 3rd person would be helpful for this room)

Difficulty: ‘Level 2’ – for those who’ve played before, or like a challenge

First-Timer Friendly?: I’d suggest this room for seasoned players

Kid Friendly?: Nothing scary, but the puzzles would be too complex for little players

How we did: Completed February 2019. Team of 2. Failed by a few minutes as we got stuck on the last puzzle.

Required: Fluent English, Basic Maths.

 

Brief:

Solve Sydney’s most mysterious bank heist and catch the thieves before they flee the city. Sydney 1828 – it’s the middle of the night and a heist has occurred at the Bank Of Australia. The Bank Manager is shackled and the criminals have fled. As Sydney’s elite police, use your investigative skills to find the thieves before they flee the city for good! This room is great for those who like more of a challenge or who have played escape rooms before. It is a newer room and has a higher amount of technology.

 

The Experience: 

This was my 10th escape room.

We entered this room immediately after finishing Robbery in the Cottage. If you’d like to read more about Escape Hunt Sydney, please check out my reviews of Secret Service Mission or Robbery in the Cottage.

Inside the Room:

After a quick tea break (provided for free at the venue), we let our gamesmaster know we were ready to begin our second room, Bank Heist of Australia. We locked up our valuables in a crate on the other side of the room and read our brief.

Before we started, the gamesmaster asked us, ‘Who’d like to be the bank manager?’ Meema and I looked quizzically at each other, before I offered to play ‘bank manager’ for the game. Without wanting to give too much away, at the beginning of the game, the ‘bank manager’ is really going to rely on the other players in the room (which is why I’ve suggested 3 players instead of 2).

Meema on her own was struggling to work out a way to help the bank manager, which was okay as there was a complex maths problem to get done before help came to the rescue. In the end, we might have cheated a little bit, thanks to my having narrow wrists!

This room is considered ‘high tech’ and there were no lock and keys to be found (except on the door leading out of the room!) I generally find ‘high tech’ leads to an extra level of difficulty – inputting the answer can often take just as long as solving the puzzle – and sometimes you’re not sure if you’ve got the right answer and entered it incorrectly or have the wrong answer. Some of the puzzles were devilishly difficult, a few easy, and a few seemed to us needlessly convoluted. There were some red herrings, and there was one puzzle in particular which we felt was a bit of a ‘guess what I’m thinking’ from the room designer.

We made liberal use of the walkie-talkies towards the end of the room – I think two-room fatigue was setting in by that point. Our gamesmaster was very helpful and gave good hints, but once again the problems of the walkie-talkie system as opposed to the video-camera system were apparent – every time you wanted a hint, you had to explain what you’d already done. Bogged down by the last puzzle, we didn’t quite make it out in time. We were given a little extra time to finish and made it out only a couple of minutes past the hour. Our first fail!

All in all this was an enjoyable game, nicely furnished, although a little frustrating at times as the puzzles were quite hard! Not a lot of search-and-find was required for this room, but lots of lateral thinking was, and some interesting combination of objects from various rooms.

 

Location / Outside the Room

For city-based organisations looking for walk-in team-building activities, you can’t beat the location of Escape Hunt Sydney situated on George St directly opposite Dymocks in the heart of the CBD. They have purposely mirrored 2 of their 4 rooms so that larger groups of up to 12 can split into two teams and go head-to-head, which is, of course, another draw for the corporates.

They have bathroom facilities and offer tea, coffee and water which was nice for debrief at the end of the game. The games master we had on the day was competent and friendly. There’s even a large space where you can grab a Sherlock Holmes cape, hat and pipe, and take silly / serious selfies.

 

Overall Verdict

I’ve now completed three rooms at Escape Hunt Sydney. While they vary in theme and level of technology used, I still think they lack the level of finesse of some of the other rooms in the Sydney market. Of all their rooms I’ve done so far, I’ve preferred their oldest, lowest-tech room, which I think goes to show that flashy lights and gizmos aren’t nearly as important as a well-designed, cleverly thought-out room. I would still say that Escape Hunt Sydney is geared towards the corporate and first-timer market. They also offer the ‘escape challenge’, giving you a discount of up to 20% off full price when you come back to do more rooms and frequently have offers on discount sites. If you’re booking for a large corporate group and planning to come after a long lunch for a bit of team-building, rest assured they’ve built these rooms with you in mind. For experienced players, I’d suggest making use of a groupon if you’d like to get your money’s worth.

Room Review: Robbery in the Cottage @ Escape Hunt Sydney

 

Where: Level 4, 393 George Street, Sydney

Website: https://sydney.escapehunt.com/

Contact: sydney@escapehunt.com

How Much?: $36-$44 p.p depending on group size

How Many?: Billed as suitable for 2-5 people.

Difficulty: House rates it beginner which I’d agree with.

First-Timer Friendly?: Yes

Kid Friendly?: Yes, and plenty of nice little props for the kids to play with in this room!

How we did: Completed February 2019. Team of 2. Escaped!

Required: Fluent English, basic maths.

 

Brief:

The entire gold coin stash of The Rock’s largest workers’ cottage has been stolen! As world famous detectives, use your keen eye, logic and quick thinking as a team to solve the mystery in an hour before the thief disappears forever!

 

The Experience: 

Having done my first room at Escape Hunt Sydney (Secret Service Mission) a few months ago and finding it a little lacklustre, Groupon in hand, I decided to return to attempt Robbery in the Cottage and The Bank of Australia Heist, back to back. With Meema in tow, we headed to George St and took a lift ride to the 4th floor to Escape Hunt Sydney, ready for our next ‘escape’.

Once again, we had the leisure of visiting Escape Hunt Sydney on a mid-week morning and, far from the bustling crowds which other reviews have been reported on weekends, had the place to ourselves! After being greeted by our gamesmaster, we took a seat on one of the many chesterfields that fill the large, now-familiar waiting room and drank in the atmosphere of brick wallpaper and dim lighting while we filled in our disclaimer and awaited our instructions.

Unlike Secret Service Mission, there was no fancy video this time. Instead, we received a written mission brief that advised us we needed to discover the culprit of the robbery in a cottage in The Rocks. We locked our valuables up in a wooden crate and off we went to the room!

 

Inside the Room:

The rooms were nicely furnished and fitted well with the historical theme of The Rocks. Robbery in the Cottage is not a high-tech room – instead it contained lots of combination locks, and puzzles with physical pieces which need to be combined with other components of the room. Low tech actually suits us well as Meema and I tend to enjoy these rooms best – our experience is that sometimes the ‘high-tech’ mechanisms add too much difficulty.

The room was looking a little worn in places, but nothing that lessened our enjoyment of the game. The puzzles were logical and somewhat linear, with some elements of search-and-find, and lots of items that need to be combined together. Children, I think, would really enjoy this room as there are several puzzles where they’d really be able to help. Good English is essential for this room with quite a lot of reading as you get closer to discovering the identity of the thief.

Experienced escapers will not see anything new, but I must say I enjoyed it in spite (or perhaps because) of this – I found this room relaxing, familiar and rarely frustrating, but still with a few challenges thrown in. Even without a major wow factor, it was everything a basic escape room should be and a pleasant way to spend 40 minutes!

We immediately followed this room with another Escape Hunt Sydney room, The Bank of Australia Heist (which you can read about here).

 

Location / Outside the Room

For city-based organisations looking for walk-in team-building activities, you can’t beat the location of Escape Hunt Sydney situated on George St directly opposite Dymocks in the heart of the CBD. They have purposely mirrored 2 of their 4 rooms so that larger groups of up to 12 can split into two teams and go head-to-head, which is, of course, another draw for the corporates.

They have bathroom facilities and offer tea, coffee and water which was nice for debrief at the end of the game. The games master we had on the day was competent and friendly. There’s even a large space where you can grab a Sherlock Holmes cape, hat and pipe, and take silly / serious selfies. These guys know how to market.

Overall Verdict

Sydney Escape Hunt is geared towards the corporate and first-timer market. If you have a Groupon or a two-for-one, by all means, use it. Bring a newbie along and introduce them to escape rooms. Escape Hunt Sydney also offers the ‘escape challenge’, giving you a discount of up to 20% off full price when you come back to do more rooms. If you’re booking for a large corporate group and planning to come after a long lunch for a bit of team-building, rest assured they’ve built these rooms with you in mind. For experienced players though, I’d suggest you could spend your money on one of the more boutique Sydney outfits.

 

Note

We were sad to hear this room has now closed and been replaced by a brand new room, The Young Wizard’s Quest.

If you’d like to read more about Escape Hunt Sydney, you can check out my review of The Bank of Australia Heist or  Secret Service Mission.

Room Review: Secret Service Mission @ Escape Hunt Sydney

Where: Level 4, 393 George Street, Sydney

Website: https://sydney.escapehunt.com/

Contact: sydney@escapehunt.com

How Much?: $36-$42 p.p depending on group size (at the time of writing, Escape Hunt Sydney had a buy-one-get-one-free deal running in The Entertainment Book, which we utilised).

How Many?: Billed as suitable for 2-5 people (I’d suggest 2 is enough)

Difficulty: House rates it Beginner / Intermediate. I’d say it’s a beginner room.

First-Timer Friendly?: Yes

Kid Friendly?: Nothing scary, but there’s not a great deal for kids to do in the room (unless they’re hamsters).

How we did: Completed April 2018. Team of 2 including 1 first-timer. Escaped with over 20 minutes remaining.

Required: 2 members of the team with full mobility and appropriate footwear. Watch your head. You have been warned!

 

The Brief:

Your mission as Australian Secret Service Agents is to investigate the disappearance of the Prime Minister, Harold Holt. You’ve got an hour to cross the city to meet your informant and get the intel, while evading the assassin!

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The Experience: 

I’ve read mixed reviews of Escape Hunt Sydney – they have fabulous reviews on Trip Advisor, yet more experienced escapers like Escape Rooms Sydney and Lock Me If You Can tend to rate their rooms as fairly run-of-the-mill. Still, I decided to go with an open mind and was interested to see what a worldwide franchise does that’s different from the smaller guys. For this, my fourth room in Sydney, I took along Meema, who’d never done an escape room before to see what she thought of the room (and the escape experience!) She was worried she was not going to be very good at it.

We went to Escape Hunt Sydney in the middle of a weekday, which meant we found the place blessedly quiet. It seemed pretty obvious to me that these guys are geared towards servicing the corporate market. The waiting room is well appointed and spacious, decked out with chesterfields, brick wallpaper, and old chests lining the walls. There’s even a large space where you can grab a Sherlock Holmes cape, hat and pipe, and take silly / serious selfies. These guys know how to market.

Even though the space is large, I can imagine it would fill up very quickly on weekends if there were 6 groups occupying the space, and with no partitions, it could get a little loud. As it was, we only saw one other couple during our visit, and otherwise had the place to ourselves.

We found Escape Hunt easily (across the road from Dymocks and a lift ride to the 4th floor) and were warmly and promptly greeted. We were shown to the chesterfields, but pretty much left to our own devices for a bit after that (literally – we were given an iPad to fill out the waiver, and rather than being explained by the games master the ‘rules’ are all on a sheet you need to read). Once we’d told the games master we were ready to go, we watched the obligatory video about our mission to find information regarding the disappearance of Prime Minster Harold Holt and avoid the assassins who were trying to kill us.

While the video was pretty slick, the mission itself didn’t really make that much sense – I really like the idea of interweaving history with an escape room, but the premise of this room left me with a lot of questions. Why do they have us looking for information about Harold Holt when his body was never found? Why are there assassins out to get us? And why did they have to change history to say Holt disappeared at Bondi, when he disappeared in Victoria? Am I in modern times, or 1967? It seemed like a strange jumble of unrelated things, especially when there are so many excellent rooms in Sydney that do a fabulous job of historical immersion.

So, now that we’ve got our slightly nonsensical mission down, let’s get into the room. We locked up our stuff in a chest, and were given our walkie-talkies (yes, Escape Hunt still utilises the old-school walkie-talkie system, although they do have cameras in the room so you don’t have to explain where you’re up to.)

The first room was nicely themed: the inside of one of those old silver trains – very nicely done and took me back to my early teens when I used to catch one that looked just like it to school every day. It was a fairly high-tech room with some physical and sequencing puzzles.

We got off to an okay start but got bogged down quite quickly with a puzzle I found frustrating (my pet hate is frustrating, time-wasting puzzles!). Not to give anything away, but it was a complex sequencing puzzle, followed by a timed puzzle. If you failed to do the timed puzzle in the allotted time, you had to completely redo the lengthy sequencing puzzle. This led to a fair bit of time wasting, as it took us three goes to complete (partially because of the technology). Having said that though, Meema said she didn’t find it as frustrating as I did. We ended up using the walkie-talkies three times in quick succession to escape that particular room!

That little hiccup out of the way, we headed to the next room, and the next. We fairly flew through the following puzzles that utilised mechanical, electronic and lock-and-key elements. There wasn’t a great deal of finesse to the placement of any of the other puzzles, they were all pretty much: ‘here is the puzzle – solve it’ with only the smallest amount of search-and-find and very little use of whole environment. We escaped the room with over 20 minutes on the clock.

I didn’t mind that the rooms were small. They were nicely decorated, and the ‘Harold Holt’ motif was scattered throughout them (although again, it wasn’t particularly thematic). What this room lacked, I felt, was clever puzzles. There simply weren’t enough to fill the time, and the end was, therefore, a little disappointing as there was no rush to beat the clock. A second set of puzzles running in tandem to the first (or perhaps collecting objects along the way) would really improve this room and give a better end experience especially as this room is billed for up to 5 players, and we sailed through it with 2. I asked the games master whether it is common for players to get stuck in the first room, and she said yes, most teams spend over 30 mins in that room, which definitely shows some very uneven flow to the game design.

As I said in the description, this room is billed as a great room for kids, but as it was very linear and the puzzles were fairly adult I’m not sure what kids would do in this room unless they’re hamsters (you know what I mean if you’ve been in this room). If you’ve got younger kids, take them to Paris Escape instead.

All in all, I found the experience enjoyable, but a bit lacklustre. Meema, who’s first room it was, enjoyed it a lot, (which probably accounts for the excellent Trip Advisor reviews – this is just the sort of room lots of first-timers would do) although she too commented on the weird history jumble. I can’t wait to take her to her next room and see how she compares the two!

 

Location / Outside the Room

For city-based organisations looking for walk-in team-building activities, you can’t beat the location of Escape Hunt Sydney situated on George St directly opposite Dymocks in the heart of the CBD. They have purposely mirrored 2 of their 4 rooms so that larger groups of up to 12 can split into two teams and go head-to-head, which is, of course, another draw for the corporates.

They have bathroom facilities and offer tea, coffee and water which was nice for debrief at the end of the game. The games master we had on the day was very competent and friendly.

Logos-for-website_0028_ESCAPE_HUNT_SYDNEY_LOGO.png

Overall Verdict

Sydney Escape Hunt feels very geared towards the corporate or first-timer market. If you have a Groupon or a two-for-one, by all means, use it. Bring a newbie along and introduce them to escape rooms. Escape Hunt Sydney also offers the ‘escape challenge’, giving you a discount of up to 20% off full price when you come back to do more rooms. If you’re booking for a large corporate group and planning to come after a long lunch for a bit of team-building, rest assured they’ve built these rooms with you in mind. For experienced players though, I’d suggest perhaps spending your $$$ on one of the more impressive Sydney outfits.

 

 

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