Melbourne, Australia is positively riddled with escape rooms. A quick Google search for "escape room Melbourne" will net you plenty of options to choose from.
One such venue has the most fitting name of the bunch: Escape Room Melbourne. Don't let the lack of originality fool you, though, because the unassuming joint has plenty of inventive, challenging, and entertaining rooms to choose from.
"Fractured: Remember Me" is their newest room, and we had the chance to put it through its paces. We were actually the second group (of paying customers, anyway) to play the room, so we got to experience something that's truly new—and likely to become one of the bustling city's most popular escape rooms once the word gets out.
Note: Is this your first time hearing about "escape rooms"? Check out our article on what escape rooms are and what to expect to learn more.
The first thing you'll notice when you read the description for Fractured is the surreal theme. Rather than being grounded in reality, you're actually entering the mind of a war veteran named Robert. He's in a comma and just hours away from dying. Your goal is to explore the area and link his memories together in order to free his mind. The room itself does a great job of capturing the surreal feel with the design and puzzles.
There are actually brief videos and story moments that happen during the escape game that help move things along and give the actions you're performing a real sense of weight and importance. Rather than just solving the puzzles because it's the goal of the room, you actually start to gain a vested interest in the story. In some ways, it actually makes the room feel more like a video game (in a good way). By the time we finished the room, we were all excited to find out what happened. I won't spoil it for you, but I think you'll feel the excitement.
As for the actual puzzles, many of them focus on cracking codes in order to open a number of combination locks. It's less focused on finding hidden objects (though there are some scattered about), and more on finding hidden numbers and letters that'll get you into a lock, which advances you through the room. There are even games you'll need to successfully play with the other people in your group in order to get through the room, which is something you don't see too often. It really gets you using all the parts of your brain, which is exactly what you want from a good escape room.
Ultimately, we were able to complete all of the puzzles with our group of five in around 50 minutes (the time limit for the room is 70 minutes), so it was challenging without being so difficult that it stops being fun. None of us were escape room beginners, but we're not necessarily pros either. In the end, I think the room walks the line perfectly between being challenging and fun.
The best thing I can say about Fractured is that it all feels incredibly cohesive. The look and feel of the room match perfectly with the videos, which ties in wonderfully with the music and sound effects. The props in the room feel appropriate for the time in which it is supposed to take place, and none of the puzzles feature anything that feels out of place with the room as a whole. It seems as though the designers thought of everything as far the aesthetics are concerned, which leads to an experience that will most definitely leave a lasting impression on you.
Unfortunately, we did get ahead of ourselves at one point. We violated the "don't lift anything rule" to break one of the puzzles, which led to a part getting stuck. This broke the immersion because the game master had to come in to attempt to fix what we screwed up. It was partially our fault and partially their fault for not realizing what we did was possible.
With that said, we still got to solve all of the puzzles once things were sorted, and the small break in immersion barely detracted from our enjoyment. While it was unfortunate, it wasn't bad enough for us to even deduct a point, and we were given warning that it was a new game before we went in and that there could be some kinks to work out.
The only other possible gripe could come from extremely experienced escape room players. Because we were only moderately experienced and were able to get through the room with time to spare, it's possible that veterans might find the room to be a little easy. However, I think the interesting theme of the room and the inventive nature of the puzzles is enough to counteract this for most groups.
If you're interested in trying "Fractured: Remember Me" for yourself, first you'll need to make your way down to Melbourne, Australia. Once you've completed that potentially long step, you can book your time in the room on Escape Room Melbourne's website.
The price per person varies depending on the size of your group. For us, it was $37 AUD per person, since we were a group of five. Compared to other escape rooms in the area, it's actually right in the middle in terms of price, but for the quality of experience it offers, it's more than worth the price.