Brisbane Escapes: “Missing Missy” @ Solve and Unlock

As members of the school’s puzzle club, we are concerned when our friend Missy doesn’t show up. Stepping into her foreboding home, we wonder if we will find the Missing Missy in time.

General Details

“Missing Missy”
Solve and Unlock, 3 Zamia Street, Sunnybank
60 minutes
2-8 players allowed
Listed difficulty: N/A

How We Played

16 May 2016
5 players
Hints: 3
Around 55 minutes (not timed)

The Experience

“Missing Missy” is offered by Sunnybank escape room outfit Solve and Unlock. The arrival and briefing are a bit rushed, as Solve and Unlock doesn’t really have a waiting room; upon arrival you are immediately briefed by a bored member of staff reading from a card and led into the room. This is the first escape room I have been to where the staff were not super excited and enthusiastic about the business, but looking at Solve and Unlock’s booking times (they have a slot available every hour, and you are given an hour to complete a room) it is no wonder they need to rush people through.

Unfortunately, this rush means that certain aspects of the experience are dealt with in a fairly haphazard way. We were hurried out after completing the room without getting a chance of a group photo, and we weren’t given our final time either. Admittedly, the room is designed less around challenging you to beat a particular time and more around the experience of completing a narrative, but it would have been nice to receive some sense of how we went. Hints are another area that may cause consternation – they are provided by walkie-talkie, which is fine, but we occasionally called our gamemaster and received no answer, which is less fine.

“Missing Missy” seems to me to embody Solve and Unlock’s central design philosophy, which is to offer narrative-heavy adventures. The theming was some of the best I have seen, with the rooms dressed and designed in a very convincing way. The space included some truly intriguing props, and you will wish you had time to fiddle with all the wonderful bits and pieces you find.

Some simple but cool technology is integrated to excellent effect, and music and lighting is used successfully to engender a consistent atmosphere. Some puzzles involved mechanisms that caused surprising and novel effects. This is certainly a room that will impress with cool effects and props.

There is also a nice sense of narrative flow to “Missing Missy” that includes a cool climax towards the end that gets the blood pumping. Though the theming is strong, the puzzles themselves aren’t really incorporated into the narrative except to the extent that you are members of a puzzle club and so of course there are puzzles.

Puzzle Design

Unfortunately, it is the puzzles that let “Missing Missy” down a bit. The overarching structure to these puzzles is generally good, if a little simple, with a linear string of barriers that require you to complete a number of different single-step puzzles in any order. The flow is excellent, as it is always very clear what the metapuzzle you are trying to complete is at any point, even if the individual puzzles are a little more opaque.

There are some good examples of puzzles that use interesting mechanisms, and overall a great variety of different types. You will need to do some guided searching, solve riddles, figure out physical puzzles and use associative reasoning.

Unfortunately there are a couple of puzzles that sour the experience a little bit. One of these is frankly a frustrating experience. Unfortunately it is also one that can only be worked on by one person at a time, and seems to require a lot of patience and luck. It felt like a waste of time.

There are also a couple of instances of ambiguous clues where it will seem that a clue refers to one thing but actually refers to something else. Occasionally we got stuck simply because we applied a clue to the wrong items, and then thought we had solved it when actually the clue referred to something different. This ambiguity is a problem.

One final type of puzzle that caused vexation was one that required backtracking without giving any indication of this fact. I have no problem with returning to earlier completed spaces and reusing elements from these spaces, but there needs to be some hint that this needs to be done. The puzzle that I am thinking of was designed in a way that suggested it was solvable based on what was provided, but not only was a key detail withheld, the puzzle didn’t make clear that a detail was missing.

Finally, a key prop had been damaged to the extent that it actually made it difficult to solve the puzzle. Without spoiling too much, an important feature had actually fallen off, which made it difficult to identify this item when we needed it despite knowing exactly what we were looking for.

The result from these issues was a somewhat frustrating experience that soured the other, far more successful puzzles.

The Bottom Line

“Missing Missy” provides a superb immersive narrative experience. The attention to detail in the set as well as the central narrative drive make it one of the most enthralling escape rooms in Brisbane. Unfortunately it is let down by a couple of puzzles that commit what are, to me, cardinal sins: misleading and ambiguous clues, frustrating busywork, and a lack of internal flow. Treated as an interactive, immersive piece of storytelling, however, “Missing Missy” delivers the goods. There is enough to do for larger groups, though I wouldn’t go up to their maximum of eight as I think this would get very claustrophobic. Grab three or four friends and enjoy the thrilling and immersive experience.

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