Expedition Sydney – The Forgotten Son

Room: The Forgotten Son
Location: Expedition Sydney, 11A Cope Street Redfern (just near the station)
Date: 24/02/2019
Participants: 4
Cost: $46 per person for 4 people
Escaped: Yes!
Difficulty: 3

Overall rating: 37/40

A moderately difficult, highly enjoyable game with some of the best puzzles I’ve seen.

The sun is low on the horizon on your return trek in the High Country. As the cold starts to bite you notice a faint smell of wood fire lingering in the air and a flickering flame can be seen between the haze in the distance.

Seeking shelter you make way towards the light where you come upon an old wooden, rusty, tin house. The sounds of a sobbing child emanate from within. In sensing its distress and unable to leave the child you look for a way in.

I grew up in country Victoria and this escape room was right up my alley. I think it’s the first Australian-themed room I’ve done and I loved the concept. I’d like to see more Australian rooms around (what about the Eureka Stockade? Find your way to the hidden stash of gold before the authorities catch you). It’s difficult to come up with unique room ideas now we have so many escape rooms around, but Expedition Sydney are definitely onto something.

It was exciting to see another room more or less around the corner from me and I had very high hopes. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. The guys at Expedition Sydney have put together a really professional room which was an absolute joy to play. Damien, our game master and one of the owners of the room told us they created all the puzzles themselves which is always a sign to me that a room has been created for love, not money. Let’s face it, good escape rooms are absolutely a labour of love and the attention to detail that these guys put in really came through. I can also say the room is very robust as we accidentally managed to break it (not physically!!) and didn’t even know until we finished and came out. I believe Damien is going to modify the room slightly after our experience, just in case there are other groups who accidentally cause problems like we did.

As with all good escape rooms, hints were unlimited and they used the Voice of God system. I do wonder if there might have been a better way to deliver hints which would have fitted with the theme a little more, but I will never have an issue with anyone using Voice of God – it’s the easiest way to both deliver and receive hints which ultimately means getting back to the game faster.

Theming: 8/10
Now, to be fair, the only reason this room didn’t get 10/10 was because I didn’t feel fully immersed in the world they’d created, but I acknowledge it’s pretty much impossible to authentically recreate the Australian bushland inside a building in Redfern. They chose an ambitious theme and definitely did it justice, with creative touches that helped add to the atmosphere. I loved the originality of the theme and there were a lot of details that helped to bring it to life.

Creativity: 9/10
At this point I’ve done enough rooms that certain common puzzles are familiar to me. That was the case with this room, which may be part of the reason I found it comparatively easy. That being said, there were definitely a few puzzles I’d never seen before and the way all the elements came together was really clever. I thought the variety of puzzles was excellent and at some points it almost felt like there were too few padlocks! Apparently I don’t know what to do when I don’t have locks to open. The room is quite high-tech but it still ties in well with the theme. There was one puzzle in particular that was designed to look low-tech which I thought was very clever. Not only did this room have nothing in it I hated, there were a few elements that I absolutely loved. It’s always a nice bonus when solving puzzles is enjoyable rather than a necessary evil and I think Expedition Sydney has done a great job of catering to different preferences with the variety in their puzzles.

Fun: 10/10
This room was so much fun. I liked that it was a little easier and there were a lot of hints within the puzzles to guide you through. It would be a great room for less experienced players, but even if you’ve done a lot of rooms you’ll still have an enjoyable time playing. Sometimes it seems like everyone these days is just trying to make rooms which are more and more difficult, and it’s great to see a new room that focuses on narrative and flow rather than difficulty. As I mentioned at the beginning, we actually managed to break the room a little by doing things in the wrong order, but that didn’t take away from the experience at all. Damien did eventually have to step in to redirect us away from a puzzle we’d already accidentally solved, but aside from that everything flowed smoothly. Another aspect that I really enjoyed was the way we were able to split up and work on different puzzles, but at the same time the room was quite linear which gave us the best of both worlds.

Atmosphere 10/10:
There really is nothing negative to say about this. Damien was a delight and happy to chat with us for half an hour after we finished, answering all our questions and giving us stories about other rooms he’s played in other countries. One of the biggest differences I’ve seen between independent escape rooms and big chains is the pride people have in the work they’ve created. Damien was so happy to talk us through how they created the room and little elements we didn’t pick up on while we were playing, which is something I always appreciate as a player.

Overall rating: 37/40

A really fun room with a huge variety of puzzles.

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