Escaping Sydney: Rescue the White Rose @ Second Telling

Munich, 18 February, 1943. The White Rose anti-Nazi group is under threat. The Nazis have arrested Hans and Sophie Scholl, two important members, and it is only a matter of time before they find the basement containing a full list of White Rose members. Our mission: to find the list before the Gestapo arrive. We have just an hour to find the list and to Rescue the White Rose.

General Details

“Rescue the White Rose”
Second Telling, 397 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
60 minutes
2-7 players allowed
Difficulty unlisted

How We Played

15 July 2017
2 players
Hints: 3
53 minutes

The Experience

Second Telling is themed entirely around resistance to the Nazis in World War Two. From the themes of each of its rooms, to the cute White Rose Café in the foyer, the venue transports you to another time.

The other unique aspect to Second Telling is its use of performance and actors to tell the story. Though their other room embeds the actor more into the experience, in Rescue the White Rose our gamemaster took on multiple roles while also guiding us carefully when we needed hints.

Rescue the White Rose has a story to tell, and that story evolves over the course of the game. I really loved the way extra objectives organically emerged from your actions and puzzle solving. This all culminates in an ending that masterfully circumnavigates the often anticlimactic finale of most escape rooms.

The tasks required to complete Rescue the White Rose revolve around period-appropriate props encouraging physical manipulation and play. Everything makes sense in the room’s context, and many of the codes and puzzles correspond to real ciphers from the time.

Puzzle Design

Rescue the White Rose has an intricate and interwoven path-based structure to its puzzles. There is always plenty to do, to the extent that our team of two became a little overwhelmed. This is one of the few rooms I have played where I recommend a larger team – ideally four or five.

The puzzles in Rescue the White Rose involve a variety of skills, but the standouts require you to manipulate props in interesting ways. Some of the puzzles use alternatives to standard combination locks that, though conceptually identical, add a bit of variety and thematic pizzazz.

The puzzles are fair and it is always clear when you are missing an item. It was almost always our own fault when we hit a wall – sometimes due to a lack of observation, and once due to a failure in deduction. There is one puzzle that could perhaps give a clearer indication when solved – we wasted a few minutes going through different iterations when our first answer was correct because there was no immediate feedback and it is not clear what the puzzle is going to do.

However, the mechanical inventiveness of the puzzles and the variety of cognitive approaches required means Rescue the White Rose has some of the most enjoyable, varied and interesting puzzles in the business. Their integration into the WW2 theme is masterful, and even large groups will find plenty to do.

The Bottom Line

Rescue the White Rose demonstrates that a good escape room doesn’t need flashy and elaborate sets. It instead offers a distillation of what is necessary in an escape room: variety of puzzles, an engaging narrative in which the puzzles make sense, and heaps of physical and mental tasks to complete.

It is wonderful to see an escape room venue develop a brand around a central theme or idea, and Second Telling is a perfect example of how a business can establish a strong sense of character and a cohesive vision. I’d love to see other venues try to tie their different rooms together to enable a storytelling experience extending from the welcome to departure. This thematic and narrative depth is supported by excellent puzzle design that continues to define the business.

If you’re in Sydney and have a team of four or more, Rescue the White Rose is a fantastic way to fill up some time.

For other perspectives, check out: Escape Me and Escape Room Sydney.

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