Social Escape Rooms: Baker Street Mystery Review

Over Easter, I was in Sydney to catch up with some folks and we decided a good place to do so would be an escape room. Escape rooms are great group activities, wherein you get placed in a room or series of rooms with a final “goal.”

Sometimes it’s a lock on a separate door, in another room and sometimes a lock on a box with a button to stop the timer. You usually have one hour to work your way through a series of puzzles to get to your goal. For safety purposes you never actually get locked in a room, so don’t worry about getting stuck in there.

A quick Google search gave us a bunch of escape room options – we settled on something nearby to where we were staying and ended up going to Social Escape, in Alexandria.

Social Escape has three escape games, with three different difficulties. The Paris Escape (Rated 3/5 for difficulty), the Bank Heist (Rated 5/5 for difficulty) and the Baker Street Mystery (4/5 for difficulty). We picked the Baker street one, partly for the Victorian England aesthetic, and partly because it was in the middle difficulty, and we’re no experts.

The Baker street mystery is all in one room, set up to be Sherlock Holmes’ living room. An audio recording played over the room at the beginning to serve as a hook and set the scene, telling us to find a murderer inside “the baker street five,” a notorious gang. The hook, as I’ve found with most escape rooms is pretty irrelevant except to tell the players what they’re ultimately looking for.

The room was filled with antique furniture with walls decorated as wood panelled and old red wall paper. While it still felt like a set, the room did its part in reproducing a feeling of the era in which it was based. Each piece of furniture either served as a thematic addition, like an old telephone, or a pair of lounge chairs, or held the location of a lock or clues to be put, like a writing desk, book shelves or drawers. It wasn’t overcrowded in this sense and was well designed so as not to distract players with unnecessary clutter.

That being said, I think the single room seemed to hamper the players’ sense of progression; at least compared to the other escape rooms I’ve done. In a series of rooms, connected to each other, unlocking the way into the next room served as a satisfying marker of success, a tangible piece of evidence towards your progression. While The Baker Street Mystery definitely had the same, or at least a very similar number of puzzles and locks, it felt like it was missing a piece here. We solved one puzzle, and headed to the next, with the amount of open locks being our only evidence of how far we’d come.

That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy the feeling of finishing a puzzle; and I suspect that had I not done those other rooms, I wouldn’t have noticed this at all. No, the puzzles in this room were elegant all of themselves. There were a few that were simple enough that we completely missed the answer for several minutes, only to find that the answer was staring us in the face. Others required a little more pondering. Overall they were hard enough that we didn’t solve any instantly, but easy enough that we never got stuck on anything too long. They weren’t overly convoluted or so complicated that it ruined the pacing of the game.

We had eight people playing, which is the maximum number for Social Escape, and we’d all done at least one other escape room in the past. Too many people can get hectic if you’re not careful, but we quickly discovered that it was much easier to split off into groups of two or three and look at the puzzles separately. This tactic definitely got us through the room a lot faster, but might have hindered the feeling of progression. It didn’t feel particularly linear with how we were doing it, but there were enough puzzles throughout the room that everyone was kept busy, occasionally intersecting and swapping clue answers to use in the next puzzle. I think if we hadn’t split off to tackle the puzzles separately, we wouldn’t have finished the room in time, let alone the sixteen minutes early that we did.

Overall, I think The Baker Street Mystery was a good time. We had fun, and felt our ego’s boost a little by finishing early. While it was only in one room, the room and puzzles were such that we managed to jump from one thing to the next with ease. Clues were well hidden in little nooks and under draws in places you’d expect in an escape room, but still seemed to get overlooked until you really needed the last piece of the clue. It was a quirky little room and a positive experience worth the money to go through it with friends or family. While other escape rooms might be bigger, Social Escape knows how to pack the best parts into a little room. I’d go back and check out the harder room for a challenge, but I likely wouldn’t go to the easier one unless I was with a much smaller group. If you’re around Alexandria, with a group of friends, I’d recommend giving Social Escape a go.

To find out more about Social Escape, visit their website here.

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