Location: Fairfield, Melbourne
Date played: 11 December 2015
Players: 3 (Xcapade recommend 2-6)
Hints: Unlimited via walkie-talkie
High-tech and creative puzzles make for a fun room!
“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear,” So said Dr Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic horror story, Frankenstein. These words will echo uncomfortably in your psyche as you launch yourself into rescuing a reporter friend, whose been investigating this local outrage. Can you rescue him from Frankie’s Lab before the next lightning strike brings the monster to life. You have one hour!
So begins Xcapade‘s first room, Laboratorium. You find yourself in Frankie’s Lab; your reporter friend is chained to the wall. The objective is clear: release your friend and get out of the lab before things turn from bad to worse.
Laboratorium is a really fun room. The puzzles cover a wide gamut of difficulty levels, with some leaving you scratching your head and pondering where your next move should be, while others you will skip through quickly. There’s a healthy number of red herrings to keep you on your toes, but not so many that you are continually asking yourself if what you think is a clue is actually a clue.
The overarching theme and storyline is present throughout the experience and is a credit to Xcapade’s designers. The only downside is that it wasn’t immediately apparent that we had solved the final puzzle – we kinda stood there looking at a key saying “where does this go?” There is a great mix of low-tech and high-tech puzzles, and best of all, the all worked the first time. We wish we could say that about every room we have played!
Xcapade’s first room is really enjoyable. It isn’t the easiest of rooms out there, but is a good challenge whether you are a beginner or a seasoned escape artist. Atmosphere is great, puzzle flow and design is well thought out and the hosts are super friendly. Go check them out.
High-tech puzzles are great when they work, but that’s not always the case. Xcapade’s puzzles – both low- and high-tech, all worked the first time we tried them (well, the first time we tried with the right inputs, anyway).
Even better, when you complete one of the technology-driven puzzles in Laboratorium, it is immediately clear that a) you have got it right; and b) what was opened/triggered by successfully solving the puzzle. This instant feedback is a welcome feature of Xcapade’s puzzles and one we wish many other venues would implement.
As mentioned above, the puzzles can be quite challenging, and the game masters acknowledged afterwards that the room has undergone some tweaking and may still have a few minor alterations as more groups go through. We found a few puzzles required a leap of logic, necessitating a quick pointer to help us find the right path.
Laboratorium is a well-designed room. Sound effects, props, set design and puzzles all combine to create an immersive atmosphere. Xcapade have done a good job of turning and residential/office space above a cafe into Frankie’s Lab, though there are some elements like windows, that can’t be covered up completely.
Our hosts Nicholas and Benson were friendly, welcoming, informative and generous with their time. The reception area is large and comfortable, and our briefing was casual and relaxed. We must also commend Nicholas and Benson for giving us the option of having one of our team locked to the wall – many other rooms just whisk someone away without any warning of what they’re going to do to them (not great if someone is claustrophobic, for example).
Xcapade launched their escape rooms in Melbourne’s inner north during December 2015. Upstairs from a cafe and with a beautiful deck awaiting development, Xcapade have two rooms on offer: Laboratorium and Apartment 73.
15A Railway Pl, Fairfield VIC 3078