It’s a cross between NCIS, Cluedo and How to Host a Murder, and it’s a worldwide craze right now.
Budding Poirots, Miss Marples and Sherlock Holmes can pit their sleuthing skills against the clock in a new Escapade Puzzle Room in Albert Street, Ballarat.
Escapade Puzzle Rooms involve groups of up to six people using their deductive skills to solve a mysterious case or working out how to escape from a locked room within a time limit.
In Ballarat’s case, a series of brutal murders leads your team to the room of Dr Skinner, a controversial psychiatrist. Using the clues you find in his office, you must find the identity of the next victim before it’s too late.
Sam Mannix is the twisted creator of the latest Escapade. He says he attended one in Budapest, Hungary and realised how much fun it was trying to discover the links that need to be put together by a team in order to successfully achieve an escape or track down a murderer.
“It’s live action. A team has an hour to solve the puzzle and get out of the room. It’s fun to try to solve a crime or escape a room in real time,” says Mr Mannix.
The upstairs rooms of the former Youth Hall in Albert Street are now the scene of Ballarat’s most heinous crime in living memory. The urbane atmosphere of Dr Skinner’s practice conceal the horrors of what has happened to the victims of an undiscovered killer.
“People can book in with their friends or family. I brief everyone, then send them into the room with that information. They need to search for everything, scour the room,” says Sam.
Mr Mannix writes the scenarios himself. There are several Escapade rooms in Melbourne already, and one in Geelong. They offer scenarios such as solving why a room has been abandoned for 50 years, rescuing a team from a mine, or unravelling the web of mysterious occurrences at a burlesque show.
“My plan is to shut this puzzle down in about six months’ time,” says Mr Mannix.
“I’ll rebuild a whole new theme and puzzle somewhere else in Ballarat. Ballarat has a small audience compared to Melbourne, so it’s like a pop-up Escapade, to keep it fresh.”
The Escapade Puzzle Game is open between 4pm and 10pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 10pm weekends. Call 0411 491 008 or visit http://escapadepuzzle.com.au/
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