Brisbane Escapes: Monkey Run @ Puzzled Room Escape

Subjected to illegal experiments by a mad scientist, we thought we were trapped forever. However, when a fellow monkey test subject gains superior intelligence and escapes, it leaves behind instructions to help us on our very own Monkey Run.

General Details

“Monkey Run”
Puzzled Room Escape, 1177 Logan Rd., Holland Park West
60 minutes
2-6 players allowed
Listed difficulty: 3/5

How We Played

10 December 2016
4 players
Hints: 0
29 minutes 25 seconds

The Experience

Monkey Run is a bit unusual in the Brisbane escape room scene as it is not so much a cerebral as a physical experience. In that sense, it is similar to Solve and Unlock’s now-closed Missile Meltdown (which I understand has relocated to Toowoomba). Monkey Run is perhaps a little more traditional, since it still requires you to figure out what must be done based on contextual clues, whereas Missile Meltdown was entirely objective-driven.

The guys at Puzzled Room Escape have a clever method for inducing an immersive experience. The story, as I hint above, is that a hyper-intelligent ape leaves clues to aid your escape. As you are monkeys, and therefore non-verbal, these clues are visual. The next hour is taken up with a number of process-based tasks.

These tasks are fun, and some have very satisfying effects on the diegetic world. At times, Monkey Run really feels like an escape from a laboratory. It is also great to see a room in which actions directly aid in progression rather than providing a code (a technique that would not make sense in this context). You also get to wear monkey hats the entire time, which is a great touch!

One criticism I have with regard to the experience is the fact that there are one or two puzzles that do not clearly signal their completion. They work, and we had no problem progressing, but in the absence of clear feedback teams that are not confident in their actions may not realise a door has unlocked.

Puzzle Design

As mentioned earlier, Monkey Run contains activities more than puzzles. Once you interpret what you need to do – a process that should take little time for most – it is just a matter of doing it. There are one or two analytical puzzles in the middle, but even these are process-driven rather than deductive.

The physical activities are satisfying to complete, but some do risk being frustrating. Failure usually means repeating from the start, and if you struggle with one in particular you could find yourself knowing what you need to do but physically unable to do it. This isn’t a criticism exactly, since it is simply the way the room is built, but I know some people find it more frustrating when they get stuck due to not being able to do something rather than not knowing what to do.

The focus on activities makes Monkey Run better for smaller teams. Early on there are plenty of different things to work on, but each can really only be done by one person. When things begin to converge towards the end, some members of large teams might find themselves with little to do.

The Bottom Line

Monkey Run is a great room for smaller teams looking for something a little less cerebral than other offerings in Brisbane. It has a cool story, fun gadgets to play with, and immersive decoration and props.

Monkey Run is one of the two rooms compatible with Puzzled Room Escape’s battle mode, the other being Dr Irov’s Laboratory. This is a good option for groups larger than the maximum of six who still want to interact. Having done both rooms now, I must say that team balance will be difficult to manage. I took a similar, but slightly different, team into each of the rooms and was able to complete Monkey Run around five minutes quicker. This seems to reflect the experience of other teams – Dr Irov is generally a harder room.

However, it is worth noting that Dr Irov’s Laboratory, being a brain-burner with a structure that is easier for larger groups, could have finishing times that vary quite considerably due to the ability to complete multiple puzzles in parallel and the potential for some teams to have quicker deductive reasoning. Monkey Run, on the other hand, will probably take most teams around the same time, as each activity is more process-oriented, requiring you to do tasks that will take a certain amount of time.

If you decide to do battle mode (and I do recommend trying it at least once), my recommendation is to have a slightly larger team attempt Dr Irov’s Laboratory. I suspect this will result in the best balance to give both teams a chance of success. It is also advisable to attempt to balance the teams approximately evenly in terms of experience – I think battle mode will work best for groups in which everyone has done only a small number of rooms.

Even without battle mode, however, Monkey Run is definitely a room worth doing for a team after an immersive experience that won’t tax the brain too much.

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