While family members have experienced and raved about Escape Rooms in Sydney and in London, I have hesitated putting myself in the position of being “locked” in a room, having to solve a range of puzzles to escape. However, I do like a challenge so, when Expedition Sydney invited me to trial their new escape room in Sydney (they first set up in Canberra), I was pleased to accept.
My First Escape Room
I open the shopfront door, and fail at the first hurdle. The slatted wooden door in front of me is locked and I can’t work out how to get in. Someone points out the doorbell which is answered by a ghostly voice welcoming us to Expedition Sydney. Climbing the flight of dimly lit wooden stairs, I wonder what I am in for.
LeeOnn waits at the top of the stairs to welcome and brief us on the challenge ahead. The cleverly decorated reception area sets the mood with dim lighting and careful attention to detail. Already the group has an air of anticipation. I am relieved to hear that we will not be locked in and can leave at any time.
Our group of five comprises three generations – me, my two adult daughters, son-in-law and three-month-old grandson. Hopefully between us we’ll have the brainpower to solve the puzzles and break the codes. With any luck, the baby will sleep through the experience and give his mother a break.
First timers (like me) and morning groups (of which we are one) are helpfully given a couple of warm up puzzles to get the brain into gear. The first is easy. The other two require a bit more effort. This will be a challenge and I wonder, not for the first time, if I am cut out for this sort of thing.
Starting the Challenge
Blindfolded and in single file, hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, LeeOnn leads us into the room. Katherine exclaims “Ooh this is good”. Not being able to see, my senses of touch and hearing heighten. Stepping from the hard, wooden floor onto a soft cushioned surface, bird calls reach my ears.
Standing in the dark, LeeOnn briefly describes where we are and the task ahead of us – and departs. Removing our blindfolds, we find ourselves lost deep in the Australian bush, grass underfoot, a corrugated iron shed in front of us and, according to the sign, a long way from anywhere.
Our task: to enter the shed and rescue “The Forgotten Son”.
We set about exploring our surroundings, finding the locks whose combinations we have to figure out and looking for clues. In a corner the clock ticks. Already two minutes and forty-two seconds of our allocated hour have passed we’ve hardly orientated ourselves. A brief feeling of panic comes over me.
Together we work out the first clue which leads to the next. But then we seem to be going around in circles. A voice booms from above “Travellers, would you like a hint?”
Yes please. This “Voice of God” comes to us more than once, offering hints, pointing us in the right direction or encouragingly assuring us that we are on the right track.
An Australian Themed Escape Room
Carefully selected props and furnishings create an immersive rural Australian experience. The Australian Theme is familiar, but overseas travellers, those who have experienced Escape Rooms and newcomers to the concept, will particularly enjoy “The Forgotten Son”.
Afterwards my son-in-law, Glenn tells me that he “loves the theme” describing it as having a “creepy wolf’s creek vibe”.
A Variety of Puzzles and Challenges
The puzzles and brainteasers are varied and challenging. Fortunately, between us we have a range of complementary skills. Our engineer has the knowledge for one task while our accountant and IT specialist manage to quickly work out the approach needed for other challenges.
Being a practical person, I discover the ‘how’ for a couple of puzzles but leave the actual working it out to the others. As Nicola says “there’s a reason people do these kinds of things for ‘team building’. Too many ‘chiefs’ could be difficult.
The Minutes Tick By
The minutes of our allotted hour tick by and baby wakes. At first, he is happy to look around, taking in the new surroundings. But when he gets fractious, Mum leaves with him. When we seem to be close to finishing, the adrenalin really flows as it becomes obvious that we are not going to escape in time.
“The Voice” graciously offers us more time and we happily accept. The extra ten minutes quickly pass, but we know what we have to do and manage the final two challenges with seconds to spare.
We Get There In The End
Fortunately, we escape in sixty-nine minutes and some seconds. I would have felt quite empty and more than a little defeated had we not finished. Expedition Sydney rates “The Forgotten Son” as a 4/5 in terms of difficulty. Katherine agrees saying “that was a really good one”. Certainly, for a first timer, I found it difficult but fun.
LeeOnn and his partner created this escape room, designing and building the clues, which are varied and creative. Their professionalism, enthusiasm and passion for the project shines through. Much care and thought that has gone into developing “The Forgotten Son”.
As an Australian Escape Room Reviewer puts it “Expedition Sydney has done a great job of catering to different preferences with the variety in their puzzles”.
Will I Attempt Another Escape Room?
Having completed my first escape room, I want to try another theme and improve my performance, now that I know what to expect. I can’t wait for Expedition Sydney to finish their second room, which is under development.
My family experienced The Forgotten Son at the invitation of Expedition Sydney. All opinions are my own.
*Note: you are not locked in and can leave at any time.