Escape Rooms seem to be popping up all over Melbourne. Having experienced three different rooms over the last few years, I am always up for the challenge. The latest comes at the hand of Red Herring Escape Rooms with one of three rooms available titled, Alien Invasion.
Located in the Crown Metropol Precinct, the exterior is obscure with a wall covered in silver lockboxes with a four-digit code that is randomly generated on each box. I have walked past this location so many times and have always wondered what it is. Now I know, it is the location of Red Herring Escape Rooms.
Our session was the first of the day and the doors to the venue were closed. There was no exterior handle for us to open the door to enter. However, there was a pin pad and a text message with a riddle that would seemingly open the doors. With myself and five friends, we were working though the puzzle and trying many combinations on the pin-pad to enter. The doors opened and we were unsure if it was us solving it, or the staff just opening for the day. I guess we will never know. But the brain teaser before we had even started had me excited for what was to come.
The Alien Invasion room is set on the premise that an alien ship has landed on a school and our team has been tasked to take on the invaders and save the human race. Our team are the strongest and smartest operatives on the planet, and we are the only chance the human race has. No pressure, right?
After our safety briefing, we were requested to link up in a single file and close our eyes to be guided into the room. Once we opened our eyes, we were in what appeared to be a chemistry lab in a school. In the corner of the room was a giant black object that appeared to be the crashed spaceship. The goal is to solve a series of puzzles in sequence to unlock the next problem. Eventually, it would lead to our team escaping the room and becoming victorious.
The very first thing that I noticed was how small the space was. Other rooms I have done in the past were perfectly sized for a team of six people. This one, however, was a little overcrowded for our party of six. It would be more suited to a maximum of four people. Unfortunately, the limited space to move around meant that one or two of our group were left on the outer with nothing to do. Much like board games, escape rooms should be listed with an ideal playing limit. For example, a disclaimer of ‘Ideal for up to 4 players’ would avoid overcrowding in the room.
One other criticism that I had was with one of the props used throughout the experience. There is a digital radio that provides clues and while this is a great idea, even with the volume up to the max, my team and I found it hard to hear and understand at times. Something can could easily be fixed with an updated device for better audio.
Everything else about the room including the sound effects, lighting, and set design were fantastic. The puzzles ranged from simple and very clear to complex and require multiple participants to work in a team to solve. The whole room is very tactile and has all of your favourites from locks to decode, visual cues and tricks, to digital devices. And whilst there are clues provided by the digital radio and a television that shows ‘Breaking News’, there is minimal handholding, and I really appreciated how we were left to our own devices.
Sadly, we were unsuccessful in completing the room. However, when our one hour was up, and the door opened, we discovered we were very, very close to solving the final puzzle to unlock the exit. Once we were out, we were able to ask questions from our lovely host on anything that we struggled with. Some of the problems that we really struggled with were extremely simple once you heard the solution. There was even a score sheet available so we could see how we went! We scored a 10/15 and a ‘Respectable’ rating overall. Clearly, we have some work to do!
Before leaving Red Herring, we were given a drink voucher each that entitled us to a drink from the Juke’s Karaoke bar next door. This was a great way to chill and excitedly debrief as a team afterwards. Aside from the criticisms already mentioned, we all agreed that we would happily return to give it another shot. Surely, we could do better than Respectable. Elite perhaps?
Overall, Alien Invasion is an entertaining room to escape from. And if you’re going to do one, why not choose to defeat invading aliens and save the world?
Red Herring Escape Rooms is in Melbourne at Crown Casino, operates seven days a week and bookings can be made online. Along with Alien Invasion, they also offer two other escape rooms with Old Haunt and Shutdown.
For more information on Red Herring Escape Rooms and bookings, visit: