Escape rooms are very much flavour of the month in Melbourne, but this one is unlike any we've ever tried. The story is front and centre here, with a narrative arc and interactive elements you will probably not find anywhere else.
We did the Crumbling Prince Part 1 (yes, there's a part 2) room, which is a beautiful Japanese garden. There's a cherry tree in full blossom in the corner, and a real waterfall burbles gently into the stream that bisects the room. The centre of one wall is dominated by a humanoid figure with glowing eyes in a robe – this is the titular Prince. The Prince welcomes us into his garden in a childish voice and asks us to play games and help recover objects. The Prince is extremely interactive, asking and answering questions and setting us on the right path to discover what has happened to his lost companions. He's an ally – kind of. As the game progresses, we come to realise not all is as it seems with the Prince, who might be harbouring some kind of dark secret.
But he's not the only one in the room. Each of us is given a vulpine mask to wear in the room, and these contain secrets of their own. The Mask of the Lost and Mask of the Wild have headphones inside, and voices direct these players towards certain puzzles and provide warnings and information about what the Prince might really be up to. The Mask of the Moon and Mask of the Sun contain special lights to help discover secret messages and markings hidden throughout the room. The player wearing the Mask of the Lost is given the most information, but be warned – the voices might be helpful, but it's important not to let the Prince know that you can hear them. The Prince himself has very keen hearing and eyesight, and he gets jealous and pouty if he doesn't know what you're doing. Keeping the Prince on side while appeasing the voices in your mask can be a tall order.
The Crumbling Prince Part 1 is an extremely well put together escape room, with real running water and beautiful set dressing. The puzzles can be somewhat lateral, but listening to the clues provided by the Prince and the masks will help you get there.
Creativity of puzzles: 3/5
Best quote: “Hang on, I can't hear you, the voices in my head are talking to me.”
Our tip: If you get stuck, just ask the Prince for help. He's full of useful info and on your side. Maybe.