Inside a nondescript warehouse lies Escape Room Melbourne, a venue filled with dozens of unsolved puzzles and enigmatic mysteries. As I sat in the waiting room, I glanced uneasily at an hourglass containing black sand. Vintage signs covered the walls, and I wondered if any of this served as a precursor to my next escape room experience.
The enthusiastic room manager greeted us shortly, and outlined the story of “Kellar’s Magic Emporium.” My group and I were to assume the roles of aspiring magician assistants. In order to become the assistant of renowned magician Harry Kellar, we had to pass his test by completing the escape room.
If you don’t already know, Kellar was an actual American magician during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The room captures this time period, as it includes several pieces of furniture and knickknacks reminiscent of this era. Raggedy dolls sit atop shelves, while four marionettes hang somberly on the wall. Everything in the room looks outdated, making you feel as if you really are auditioning to become Kellar’s assistant.
What attracted me to “Kellar’s Magic Emporium” was its story. As someone who’s fascinated with the world of magicians (but can’t do any tricks myself), I always wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. Although this room doesn’t reveal any magic secrets, I soon learned that it has several tricks of its own.
The puzzles in this escape room invite you to think outside of the box. In general, most escape rooms require some sort of imaginative thinking, but this room really throws logic out the window. And for creative thinkers, that definitely isn’t a bad thing.
The puzzles involve working with your eyes. You have to see past the illusions inside the room if you truly want to succeed. The room itself comes to life as you complete puzzles. Getting certain answers correct will sound a bell, while other puzzles open secret doors, turn on lights, or trigger the movement of a marble. In other words, the room has its own sort of magic.
All of these unique puzzles come together to help you find keys and lock combinations. Fortunately, solving this escape room isn’t as simple as just finding a key laying around or guessing a combination. You have to wrack your brain to find all the answers.
However, the puzzles aren’t frustratingly hard. They have just the right amount of difficulty to give you the satisfaction of completion. My four-member group took about 45 minutes to escape the room, partly because of the sense of urgency that the room incited. I won’t reveal any spoilers about plot twists, but by the time you’re close to completing the room, you’ll definitely want to get out of there.
Sorry mathematicians and scientists, but the majority of the puzzles in “Kellar’s Magic Emporium” don’t involve math or pure logic. I can only remember one puzzle in this escape room involving math, and it’s very simple math. That said, logical thinkers can still get through the room, but it may take them slightly longer.
If you typically see puzzles in black and white, you’ll need to change that outlook before you head to this escape room. Like I mentioned before, the puzzles are very visual. You’ll often have to decipher codes based purely on sight, rather than tedious equations. Most puzzles will have you experimenting with multiple solutions before you come to the correct conclusion. Sometimes, you can even solve them in different ways, depending on your craftiness.
You find out more about the story as you progress through the room. Unlike some other escape rooms, there aren’t audio recordings or videos that give you any hints or warnings. The story is primarily told through the brief notes you find along the way. The room is still amazing without these additions, but I’d love to see a more detailed story told in longer notes, letters, or audio logs.
“Kellar’s Magic Emporium” definitely doesn’t disappoint. The set, along with the sinister storyline and mind-boggling puzzles makes it the perfect escape room for all levels. If you want to try your hand at solving these puzzles, head down to Melbourne, Australia, and book your experience at Escape Room Melbourne.
The cost of this escape room depends on how many people are in your party—the more people, the lower the cost of a single ticket. I would recommend that you have at least three people in your group, that way you can solve puzzles faster (and it’s cheaper).
For more information about Escape Room Melbourne, check out our review of their newest escape room “Fractured, Remember Me” and our interview with its creator, Owen Spear.