Location: Melbourne CBD
Date played: 4 July 2015
Players: 3 (4-6 players recommended)
Hints: Unlimited via walkie-talkie
A haunt can come back to bite…
Your friend has gone missing. They posted on Facebook that they were going exploring in that creepy castle up on the hill, but they haven’t been seen or heard from since. As the good friend you are, you’ve decided to make sure they’re ok.
Transylvania sets itself up to be your standard vampire escape room: it’s a castle, the spectre of vampires lurks around everything corner, and it looks like someone got a special on Halloween decorations and went nuts with spider webs and red paint. A coffin: tick. Mock-candle torches: tick. Dark and spooky mood: tick.
Great escape room? Well, here’s the thing. Trapt have done some really great escape rooms – we loved Wonderland and Biohazard – so had high hopes for Transylvania. In fact, we chose this room because we were introducing someone to the whole escape room genre, and figured Trapt would be a good place to start for them because we trusted Trapt to put on a good room. Unfortunately, both we and Trapt missed the mark here.
Transylvania was reasonably well presented, and the theme seemed to translate along the puzzles. At times however, it seemed like they had forgotten to align some of the actions you perform with something of meaning, but there is nothing to guide you along the way. The final step to exit the room seems, on the face of it, quite relevant and fun – if it weren’t so disjointed from the experience that our game masters had to appear and help us through it (ruining the atmosphere and making us generally feel uncomfortable, too).
Trapt love using RFID tags/sensors as the way to unlock the final door, and it’s clear there are some issues with this technology. Each time we have used it we’ve been told that it’s finicky and needs a bit of tweaking to get it right. That is bad enough, because the actions you perform to bring the RFID tag towards the sensor aren’t always an ‘open the door’ action (i.e. unless you know what you are doing is going to unlock a door, you wouldn’t know to check the door). In Transylvania, the method you use to activate the final lock is quite clever, but the puzzles in the lead up give no clue that you should perform that action, nor will you know it unlocks the door (you’re even in a different room). It’s like the game designers came up with an overall concept, the final release mechanism and them crammed in some puzzles to fill the space in between.
While very disappointed with the room, we still do recommend trying Trapt – just try and book in for one of their other rooms instead.
Transylvania’s puzzles are ok, but not stellar. There’s a decent number of red-herrings, which is a surprise (and some are quite complex), while another appeared to fit the theme really strongly but instead was solved by stepping out of the fantasy world and remembering our true surroundings. Might seem clever, but makes the atmosphere evaporate rather fast.
Don’t get us wrong: the puzzles fit the general theme, but when they tried to conform to the story it simply led to confusion rather than wonder and awe.
The rooms were themed quite well, with props and background sounds in line with the story. However, one of our players was more surprised by the sound of someone above the room flushing a toilet than the background noises, which were easily tuned out.
We did find it interesting that we had to be lead, blindfolded, through two sets of doors before being locked into the starting room. It did cross our minds that while we were monitored and had communications to the outside world, that if there was an emergency, we were not able to get out ourselves if everything turned pear-shaped.
It really pains us to give Trapt only 2 locks for customer service based on previous experience where the service we received was fabulous. Unfortunately, this time we were left disappointed and feeling a bit awkward with how the game played out.
Trapt hand you a walkie-talkie for clues, which is a fairly standard way of helping out teams in escape rooms. We needed a hint early on, so called in – just to be told they were coming in to see us. If something is really complex, we can understand coming in (this happened fairly often when we played Wonderland, but the casual-ness of our game master made it all feel – well, normal) but for such a simple question, we could have handled it over the walkie-talkie without having the whole experience interrupted.
While the first intrusion by our game masters was triggered by us asking for help, the second intrusion wasn’t. We made our way to the final puzzle, and all of a sudden they appeared behind us. We figured that the final step must be rather difficult as they wouldn’t have appeared otherwise. They tried to be cryptic in prodding us in the right direction, but in the end they ended up excitedly shouting at us to perform a particular action, which felt really awkward and uncomfortable.
What was it that made it feel awkward rather than casual (as we experienced on our previous two visits)? We’re not sure. Maybe it is because our previous game master took time before the game to build some rapport. Maybe it is because we had two game masters rather than one (we think someone was getting trained, but we’re not sure), which made it less personal and more imposing. Or maybe it was because the puzzle design required outside intervention to succeed. Either way, we were really disappointed with the customer service we received given our previous experiences at Trapt.
About Trapt Bar & Escape Rooms
Down the stark-white stairs of 377 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, a dark wood-panelled corridor awaits. Hidden at the end of a long, dimly-lit passageway is a beautifully adorned cocktail lounge, replete with friendly hosts ready to serve you a drink or lock you in a room.
Opened in December 2014, Trapt has four escape rooms to enjoy: Wonderland, Biohazard, Prisonbreak and Transylvania. Incorporating a bar is, in our opinion, pure genius: it is somewhere you would go just for a drink, but when doing an escape room, it encourages you to stay and debrief with your fellow captors over a cheeky beverage. The prices for both escape rooms and drinks are reasonable, quality is high and vibe is relaxed and welcoming. Come for the puzzles, stay for the gin.
Trapt Bar & Escape Rooms
Basement, 377 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000