Clutching our LAPD badges to our chest, we chased down our latest lead in a serial killer case. They’d left behind clues… almost as though they were trying to get caught. Would we find them in The Cabin?
The Cipher Room, 640 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
2-8 players allowed
How We Played
15 July 2017
The Cabin truly floored me. The Cipher Room blindfolds participants before entering a room, a practice other venue also partake in that I traditionally haven’t seen the point of. For The Cabin, however, it makes total sense. You are completely transported into a dark, moody, abandoned cabin, with everything from the lighting, the sounds, even (though this was possibly psychosomatic) the smell contributing to the realism.
This realism could present a problem for some. Though The Cabin doesn’t have any jump scares, it is extremely dark and moody. The environment becomes increasingly foreboding, and towards the end my teammate was struggling a little with physical anxiety responses to the room. If you are of a nervous disposition and don’t like being freaked out, you might be better off playing one of The Cipher Room’s other family-friendly themes, which I am reliably informed have similarly strong theming.
The Cabin includes satisfyingly physical puzzles that feel entirely appropriate to the setting. Though these puzzles don’t exactly contribute to a narrative, they are cleverly and appropriately interwoven into each space. There is an emotional trajectory to the way players interact with the puzzles and set, even if those puzzles don’t contribute to concrete plot development.
Playing The Cabin felt a little like having my cake and eating it too. Not only was the set immaculately designed and presented, but the puzzles were varied, interesting, and challenging. There is an overall linear trajectory, though there are plenty of branching points where larger teams could work on different puzzles simultaneously. Clues are large and clear, so even when only one puzzle is available it is usually possible for more than one person to work on it simultaneously – and sometimes teamwork is essential.
The Cabin contained several bespoke handcrafted items that were extremely satisfying to use, offering something more interesting than a standard padlock. In keeping with the setting, obtrusive tech was entirely absent. Puzzles instead used props appropriate to the setting in interesting ways to provide clues.
While the object manipulation puzzles were a lot of fun, they tended to be simple tasks. The meat of the puzzling was clever association and observation puzzles. Some of these were ingenious, and none felt pointless or time-wasting.
We did find the puzzle flow to falter a little in the early part of the game due to dim light causing us to misread important information and the open, interwoven puzzle structure of that early part being quite difficult for a small team, but that has more to do with team dynamics than room quality. Fortunately, the gamemaster was constantly observing us and offered well-timed nudges towards the things we had missed.
The Bottom Line
The Cabin is one of the most impressive escape rooms I have ever played. The set is entirely believable – to the point where that might be confronting for some players. It is a challenging room that nevertheless remains fair. The care and attention to the props, set and puzzles is a credit to the team at The Cipher Room. It is worth the trip to Newtown to try out The Cabin.
Check out another review of The Cabin at Escape Rooms in Sydney.