Room Review: Entombed @ Room Eight Escape

***Highly Recommended***

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!)


The Brief:

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…


The Experience:

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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 10.14.39 am

Overall Verdict

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



Room Review: Avatar @ Break The Code Plus

Where: Level 1, 741 George Street, Haymarket, Sydney

How Much?: $45 per person

How Many? Billed as suitable for 2-8 people (I’d suggest 4 max)

Difficulty: House rates it 3/5

Kid Friendly? First-Timer Friendly?:  Yes to both. No scary content and some pretty design features that children will enjoy (but see below re: puzzles)

How we did: Completed Feb 2018. Team of 3 (one first-timer, one second-timer and Flowerchild 1). Escaped with 3 minutes and 3 clues given.

The Brief:

The year is 2090 and Earth is in crisis! An epidemic caused by the deadly Ebola-X virus is threatening the very survival of humanity. Scientists have tried to develop a cure, but all their efforts have been fruitless. It is known that a research team on the inhospitable Pandora Moon were working on the genetic modification of virus cells using a special material known as unobtanium. Their last recorded data showed the presence of a possible biochemical cure for the Ebola-X virus!

You are part of a team of scientists who must travel back to the Pandora Moon and retrieve the information from the abandoned lab before it is too late. 

The clock is ticking and Earth won’t survive much longer, you are our only hope…

The Experience: 

Not bad, but not super-impressive.

High on my experience at Cipher Room, I bought a Groupon for Break the Code’s Avatar Room. Dates were pretty limited, and even though I bought the Groupon before Christmas, by the time I got my act together the earliest I could get in was mid-February. With this room billed as first-timer and child-friendly, I decided to bring along Mechanic for his first room, and Flowerchild 1, who I thought if nothing else would enjoy holding the torch and exploring a dark room (what kid doesn’t love that!)

When we arrived at Break The Code, we were warmly greeted and told to take a seat in the waiting room. Mechanic and Flowerchild quickly got into a very serious game of Connect 4.

After a brief wait, we received a short safety briefing. The main point we took away was no brute-forcing anything, as they told us they have no budget to repair it. We were then lead down a corridor of doors to an open door and stepped inside to find two torches in a small, dark room. I requested a third torch as I thought it would be nice for Flowerchild to have her own, but apparently, we were only allowed two – no biggie.

There was no introduction to the room, no back-story, no blindfolds. We were simply advised to look for a physical key before the door shut. (I hope no one considers this a spoiler – you HAVE to find the physical key before you can do anything else!) So, we spent the first few minutes getting acquainted with the room and hunting down the pesky key!


From the very beginning, the puzzles were linear, with only one puzzle being able to be solved at a time. Some of the puzzles were clever, making use of some very cool mechanisms I haven’t seen before. There were several physical/fiddly puzzles which required adult skill and not as many places for Flowerchild to help out as I would have liked for a room billed as ‘child-friendly’.

Several times we became stuck, and because there was only one puzzle to work on, this led to a bit of frustration. On each occasion we asked for a hint, we felt we should have seen the answer (except for one early on, where without spoilers, it felt like an extra in-room clue would have been very helpful to steer us in the right direction!). Solving the last puzzle with only three minutes on the clock was a nail-biter!

The briefing about ‘not having a budget’ was apparently true – the first room, in particular, showed many signs of wear and looked pretty tired. In places, the carpet was lifting and the wallpaper was coming away. Some clue pieces were wearing out and had been written over to make things clearer. Many of the props seemed quite loosely attached to the walls – I’m assuming this is because people had attempted to ‘brute force’ them. Unfortunately, once something in a room becomes a little wobbly, people will always wonder if it’s supposed to be wobbly!

Despite a number of very cool props (the tree, in particular, was quite spectacular), the room’s age detracted from the atmosphere. The music being played was very, very quiet, and I was only aware of it a couple of times during the hour, and the puzzles didn’t really seem to have that much to do with either the Avatar theme or the ‘virus’ theme.

We also had a few little hiccups along the way, including a set of batteries that didn’t work and had to be replaced. Luckily I’d read reviews that this had happened to other people, and didn’t solider on, thinking I needed to do something else. The walkie-talkie system was okay, but there was no finesse in revealing the solutions to puzzles. You were pretty much straight-out told what to do.

All in all, it was a fairly enjoyable room with some fun aspects but a little underwhelming. For the price of the Groupon, I felt it was decent value. Over a beer at the pub next door, Mechanic and I discussed the various things we’d missed and the absolute necessity for communication in escape rooms (especially calling out anything odd!)


Outside The Room 

Service was friendly but not super-enthusiastic. Our greeting when we arrived was warm and prompt, but when we exited the room, we had to ask if we’d made it out in time. The foyer was quite spacious, but there was only one couch (I don’t know where multiple groups would wait) and the games set up on the table to play were missing pieces.


Although the address is George Street, the actual premise of Break the Code Plus is down an alley, on the first floor. Make sure you check the ‘how to get here’ section on their website, as there’s no obvious signage. Being so close to Central Station there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Metred parking is nearby if you’re lucky enough to be able to find a space, but probably your best bet is public transport.

Overall Verdict

An okay escape room with a few lovely touches, but a bit lacking in innovation and overall showing a lot of wear which detracted from the experience. I’d probably buy another Groupon voucher for one of their other rooms if they came up, but think I’d be disappointed if I’d paid full price.


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