Fiendishly creative puzzle-lovers have devised some of the best thrills you can get in a locked room
Update: The Slaughterhouse room is no longer open, but Orz Escape has three escape rooms to choose from, including The Vanished Carnivale.
A matter of life and death
Does anyone love escape rooms more than Eric Tse, co-owner of Orz Escape? He’s a graduate from Hong Kong with an obsession for board games. He has visited escape rooms all over Asia. He dreamed of starting Melbourne’s first. Others may have beaten him to it, but he’s not letting that get him down. So long as he’s leading teams into his deviously difficult rooms and watching their every move through the monitor, he’s living his dream.
We arrive, panting, on the third level of a skinny Bourke Street building. Faced with the choice of the trippy-looking Endless Dream or the blood-soaked Slaughter House, we opt for the latter. Chuckling to himself, Tse lets us put on our own blindfolds and handcuffs, then leads us like fretful chickens into the room. The door squeaks shut. We shrug off our blindfolds, and realise we’re in the holding pen of a crazed murderer. The low light flickers, and we catch a glimpse of a shoe, a leg, a dusty jacket. Dead or alive – we don’t want to know. Right now, all we can think about is cracking the number combination to the handcuffs binding us together.
Sure, other escape rooms can do eerie ambience. What’s much harder to inflict are those sudden, horror-movie moments of shock. If you’re thinking severed limbs, you’re on the right track. The pace slows somewhat when we come across riddles so obscure that they’re practically unsolvable. When Tse inevitably provides hints, we’re genuinely baffled as to the obscure thought process behind the methodology.
As the time ticks away, and we realise that this room has bested our abilities, we sort of hate him for the creaking, rumbling noises rising around us. But while we may have become dead serial killer meat, we step into the light feeling like we’ve faced our darkest fears. And we loved it.
Creativity of puzzles: 4/5
Best quote: “I thought it was my hand but it’s not my hand!”
Our tip: Trust your intuition. The first method of solving a puzzle might seem too obscure – but that’s exactly how the puzzle masters designed it.
|Venue name:||Orz Escape||Contact:|
180 Bourke St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu noon-9pm; Fri noon-11pm; Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-8pm|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Flinders Street; Melbourne Central; Parliament|
|Price:||$28-$32 per person|