Location: TRAPT, 377 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Cost: $40 per person for two players
Escaped: Not even close
Overall rating: 24/40
A very difficult room with some good elements, but which ultimately left me frustrated.
Curiouser and curiouser… what an odd place this is! Where up is down and back to front?
Can you follow Alice down the rabbit hole and escape the nonsense of WONDERLAND? If you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t matter much which way you go – but remember to work together and don’t upset the Queen!
I love Alice in Wonderland, so this room was high on my list of rooms to try during our trip to Melbourne. Although it wasn’t the worst room I’ve ever done, it definitely doesn’t rate as one of the best rooms either, and I think we could have chosen a much more enjoyable room to play. Our gamemaster reiterated to us that only 2% of players have completed this room, which to me says it’s too difficult and doesn’t flow properly. Harder doesn’t necessarily equal more fun, and Wonderland is a perfect example of this. We spent more time being frustrated than we did enjoying the room, to the point where we were given extra time to stay and complete the last part of the room and declined because we just wanted to give up.
The hint system is not one of the best – you have a walkie talkie and have to contact your game master, who then comes into the room, interrupting you and taking you out of the story to help you. She did check up on us at one point and came in to help us after we’d spent about half an hour on one puzzle getting nowhere, but ultimately we were left to our own devices. I never really know when to ask for clues because I don’t know how far through a room I am and how well I’m doing, so I prefer a system where hints are given when the gamemaster deems it necessary. This was one of the reasons we didn’t even come close to finishing this room, although we’ve completed other rooms with no hints so I think it all circles back to the difficulty of the puzzles. However, it should be noted that we definitely could have chosen to ask for more clues along the way, so I won’t hold that against the room.
With only two players we were at a bit of a disadvantage, but I honestly think having a larger team wouldn’t have made much difference. The room itself was just too difficult and there was no real way to get around that.
Yes, the room is definitely Wonderland themed, but there weren’t really any elements that made me go “wow”. With a theme like Wonderland there’s a lot you could do, but the room was quite sparsely decorated and there wasn’t that much integration between theme and puzzles. Obviously, it’s been a long time since I played it so I’m relying on my memory, but I don’t recall any particularly amazing details. Like most of the more commercial games I’ve played, the theming seems to be secondary and there’s just enough provided to give some sense of story, rather than fully immersing you in a different world.
Nothing much in this room was particularly creative, and the puzzles that were unique were generally too difficult to work the way they were intended to. Simply being hard, isn’t the same as being creative and original! We were told we needed to have a basic knowledge of chess to complete this room, so I brushed up on my chess knowledge, which still didn’t help me solve the puzzle. I also don’t actually remember there being that many puzzles to solve, although I might have repressed that from my memory. All in all, although the majority of the puzzles did definitely fit with the theme, they weren’t unique enough to be memorable.
It’s no secret that I find rooms less fun the more frustrated I get, and this was one of my more frustrating escape room experiences. Myself and the friend I was playing with started to get really annoyed with each other, which is always a sign something has gone wrong somewhere! Some of that could be chalked up to tiredness from our trip and I’m willing to concede that at another time when we hadn’t already done three other escape rooms over two days I might have found this room more enjoyable. Whatever the reason, I just didn’t have a fun experience playing this room and left feeling frustrated and disappointed rather than euphoric.
Despite our negativity by the time we finished the room, our gamemaster was always friendly. She offered to give us more time to complete the final part of the room, and when we declined she showed us how the last few puzzles worked so we could see what we would have needed to do. She also gave us answers when we needed them, which I really appreciated – sometimes a gentle nudge in the right direction is fine, but at some point you just want the right answer so you can keep going. Despite my dislike of the room itself, the staff were helpful and professional and very good at what they did.
Overall rating: 24/40
Although TRAPT is welcoming with friendly staff, the Wonderland room is incredibly challenging. Give it a try, you might enjoy it more than I did, but be prepared to ask for hints along the way.