Room: Ex Libris
Location: Next Level Escape, Level 2/37 Bligh St, Sydney
Cost: $52 per player with 3 people (less with more players)
Escaped: Yes, with all objectives completed
Overall rating: 38/40
A literary-themed escape room that is incredible amounts of fun and brilliantly put together.
Calling all literary heroes! The world of literature has broken free and has merged with reality… and you, unfortunate soul that you are, have been sucked into one of these portals.
Dive into your favourite books to puzzle your way back to reality. And if you have time, take on additional challenges to seal the portals!.
Whenever I tell people I’m a librarian, their first comment is usually “wow, you must really love books.” And it’s true – I do. Ex Libris was definitely a room that was high on my to-do list because it seemed like the perfect theme for me. Book themed rooms with a bit of fantasy thrown in? I was there. For me, this room was the perfect degree of challenging. The various puzzles required different kinds of skills to figure out, which meant there were some aspects I found really difficult, but many others that I felt confident tackling.
The room is cleverly designed to have several themes in one and more than any other room I’ve played, you can easily split up and work on different puzzles at once. As there were only three people in our team we generally ended up working on puzzles together, but you could definitely have six players and not get in each other’s way at all. Although that might be a more efficient way to play, one benefit of having a smaller group was that we all got to experience everything. I loved this room so much that I think I would have been disappointed to not see half the puzzles because someone else was solving them.
The hint system is far and away the best I’ve experienced. In keeping with the literary theme, instead of hints we had a third-person narrator to guide us (and sometimes mock us when we were doing something particularly stupid). It wasn’t uncommon for us to be stuck on a puzzle only to hear “the team wondered if maybe they should give up on what they were doing and go back to the bookshelf” or similar, to tell us we were on the wrong track.
Having to create a room with one solid theme is difficult enough, but incorporating multiple themes in a way that is cohesive is next level. There were constant new discoveries and aspects of the theming that blew me away while we were playing. It was obvious that there was a lot of attention to detail and that really added to the whole experience. In fact, there were times when the theming was so good I didn’t immediately realise something was a clue because I was too busy admiring it from an aesthetic point of view.
I can definitely say the puzzles in this room were original. There were many I hadn’t seen before, and the way in which high-tech and low-tech puzzles were integrated was incredible. There were just so many different puzzle types and they all worked well with their respective themes. Honestly, the puzzles alone are reason enough that you have to try this room. The only negative was one particular puzzle that requires good eyesight to solve. All three of us tried and failed and eventually had to be given the answer. However, this was my only real moment of frustration in this room and everything else worked seamlessly to create a truly unique experience.
I think at this point it’s obvious I had a lot of fun playing this room! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much while in an escape room. There was a very tongue in cheek humour that was evident while we were playing, which I enjoyed a lot. I imagine you have to be a bit geeky and a bit silly to want to open your own room and I loved that that was able to shine through in this room. This is a very well-designed room full of challenges, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I really can’t fault anything here. Our gamemaster was friendly and welcoming, with that slightly evil look in his eye that promised we were going to have a great time. We didn’t do a formal walkthrough of the room, but we were able to chat about what we’d experienced and debrief a little, which I always enjoy. One of the key things that separates good rooms from the rest is having a dedicated gamemaster to watch you and adapt according to the vibe of your group. I definitely felt as though he was on our wavelength and his contributions only made our experience better.
Overall rating: 38/40
This room is nothing short of incredible. It’s on the more expensive side, in part due to the fact that it’s a 75 minute room, but well worth every cent. Next Level Escape have set the bar incredibly high and should be commended.