We entered the old facility as part of a tour. The lights flicker… a creepy voice plays over the intercom. Do we have what it takes to escape The Asylum?
Escape Manor, Lvl 4, 51 Edward St, Brisbane CBD
2-6 players allowed
Listed difficulty: 20% (success rate)
How We Played
3 June 2017
Escape Manor is Brisbane’s newest escape room venue. It’s a Canadian import with pedigree behind it and the potential for quick growth due to the number of designs available to them from across the Pacific. If they uphold the quality of The Asylum, Brisbane has a lot to look forward to.
The room begins with a briefing, which involves a bit of fun acting and drama. Nothing crazy, but it’s cute and a great way to set the scene. There are some personal touches to the experience that are great fun and do a good job of immersing you in the setting – as well as raising the stakes dramatically!
The Asylum isn’t going to wet any pants, but the clinical set dressing creates an oppressive atmosphere entirely appropriate to the theme. Though not a high-tech room, there are a few cool surprises and moments achieved through simple use of props and set. The puzzles are pleasantly tactile and fit the setting.
Escape Manor uses an interesting method for providing hints, hiding a walkie-talkie somewhere easy to find and offering only a single hint. I really liked having to find the walkie-talkie – it was very easy to find, but just adds an extra layer.
The Asylum has a reasonably intricate, layered puzzle structure, with open sections gradually revealing clues for later puzzles in an interweaving pattern. This contributes to a single meta-puzzle that is available from the start.
This structure means that The Asylum is appropriate for large groups. There are always multiple puzzles to be worked on simultaneously, but the flow is also always clear. Despite there being so much going on, savvy participants should also always be able to identify how all the puzzles fit together and what needs to be worked towards.
Having so much going on does create a risk, however, and we did get caught when something simple escaped our notice. This created a weird situation where it seemed like we had one puzzle remaining and had all the pieces for the puzzle – but more was hidden away without us realising.
Fortunately, the owners were extremely receptive to our feedback and it sounds like the changes they are thinking of making will fix that little bottleneck with a little extra guidance for players. In fact, the staff were just generally lovely, and their enthusiasm for the old building housing their business is infectious.
The Bottom Line
The Asylum is one of only a very few rooms in Brisbane that I am comfortable recommending for more than four players – which is fortunate, because Escape Manor sells tickets to their rooms individually, meaning you may be paired with strangers. We had a large enough group that this didn’t affect us, but it is worth keeping in mind that if you wish to play a room privately with a smaller group you will need to fork up to book the entire room. On the flip side, this means that Escape Manor represents the best value in Brisbane for couples who are willing to work with strangers.
The Asylum is a simple room done well – it provides an enjoyable narrative experience, some entertaining tactile puzzles, an immersive set and quality puzzle design that will keep large groups engaged. I recommend this room to people with a group containing both newcomers and experienced escapers, as it is a good all-rounder, ticking the puzzling and narrative boxes without letting either overwhelm the experience, and serves as both a great introduction to the hobby as well as a nice way of testing your skills for the more experienced.