Here I provide a series of venue profiles outlining what to expect from the different venues around Brisbane. Where relevant, I provide links to reviews of specific rooms. I will update these profiles with new information as it comes. At the end, I provide brief descriptions of some venues outside Brisbane.
Description: Tucked away inside Strike Bowling Bar in Wintergarden, Exitus (previously known as Escapism) exists as just a part of a much larger entertainment experience. Exitus is accessible and convenient, located on Queen Street Mall, but it lacks the intimate feel of some of the other venues. Staff are overworked, dividing their time between gamemastering and bar duties, and hint and timing systems are all automated. The rooms are varied, with Forensic as the standout, while the other two lacking any terribly notable features.
Recommended for: Groups looking for something at the start of a night out
Description: Hidden on the corner of Wandoo and Ann Streets is a tiny placard beside a door. Sometimes the door is open, sometimes it is locked. From the outside, Fort Locks almost seems like a scam, located in an apartment shared by various offices. Once inside the rooms, however, you quickly realise that what Fort Locks lacks in production value it more than makes up for in puzzle design. Its three rooms offer some of the most inventive and varied puzzles available, ranging from clever brainteasers to surprisingly intricate homemade devices. Though the theming is simple, the ideas and ambition are often big, and there are definitely a few surprises on the way.
Recommended for: Experienced puzzlers, medium/large groups, good communicators
Location: West End
Rooms: Murder at the Barber Shop, Treachery at the Racetrack, Bomb at Government House
Discontinued reviews: Boggo Rd Gaol Great Escape
Pricing: $37/$35/$33/$31 per person for 2/3/4/5 players
Description: Escape Hunt is the slickest operation in Brisbane, with a beautiful, comfortable waiting area, friendly, dedicated staff and well-made rooms. This is likely a result of their being part of an international franchise. The rooms are small, so large groups might want to look elsewhere. Furthermore, Escape Hunt represents the best value in Brisbane for couples, but the worst value for the maximum group size of five. Escape Hunt puzzles tend to combine intricately hidden items with simple brainteasers, so if you like tearing a room apart (figuratively speaking) searching for tiny details and don’t mind working through familiar, process-based logic puzzles, you will enjoy their rooms.
Recommended for: Small groups and couples, first-timers, hide and seek fans, corporate groups
NOTE: There is another Escape Hunt venue at the Gold Coast with three rooms: Kidnapped on the Beach, Murder in the Cellar, The Lost Weapon. Though this venue is slightly more expensive, I assume other details are similar to the Brisbane franchise. I hope to be able to confirm this in the future.
Description: Puzzled Room Escape is especially interesting for their very strict design rationale. Each of their rooms contains puzzles represented by locked boxes, and the designers have worked very hard to ensure it is always clear how each clue relates to a team’s progression. Each puzzle solved also reveals narrative, which is written on a laminated card in each box. This gives the escape rooms at Puzzled Room Escape some of the strongest flow of any in Brisbane, and make them great examples of escape room structure. Their other unique selling point is the use of roleplay, which is occasionally integrated in surprising ways into the puzzles and narrative of the rooms. One of the best implementations of this is in battle mode, which combines Dr Irov’s Laboratory and Monkey Run to create a head-to-head competition against two teams. The staff here are incredibly enthusiastic and friendly, and happy to chat about their approach to their rooms.
Recommended for: First-timers, those interested in puzzle design, roleplayers, those looking for a good general room, large groups who want to battle each other
Solve and Unlock (NOW CLOSED)
Description: Solve and Unlock is another venue that can be difficult to find, as the front door is located in a car park that is often locked until five minutes before a session starts. There is no waiting space, and both the briefing and debrief tend to be rushed since the venue allows bookings every hour. The rooms themselves are a masterclass in thematic immersion, with phenomenal set and prop design, use of music and other sounds, and use of atmospheric lighting to draw you into the (admittedly fairly simple) narratives. Story progresses naturally through use of recordings and contextual features. The puzzles can sometimes feel a little illogical or frustrating, however, and no indication of the time remaining is given. This last issue stems from their innovative use of narrative climax, so is easily forgiven.
Recommended for: Roleplayers, those seeking adventure and a narrative experience
Description: Recently opened. I hope to update with impressions when I get a chance to visit.
Description: The rooms here are well-designed, often integrating narrative into the puzzle design in an unobtrusive manner. Their rooms are quite varied, and each would suit a different sized group.
Rooms: The Leonardo da Vinci Room, Submarine Escape, Lockdown in Chernobyl (OPENING SOON)
Pricing: $40/$38/$36/$34/$32 per person for 2/3/4/5/6+ players
Description: A recently-opened venue, I hope to be able to provide more detail in the future.
Location: Hervey Bay
Rooms: Walking Dead Escape, Asylum Escape
Pricing: $80/$100/$120/$140 for teams of 2 or 3/4/5/6
Description: Breakout the Room has been in business for some time. They seem to focus on licensed properties such as TV shows for their themes. I have no yet visited this venue, and hope to be able to provide more information in the future.