Escape rooms are fun, immersive, and often very exciting. Some, however, appear somewhat ‘cookie cutter’ in style, as though their owners and operators plucked their ideas out of a generic manual.
The secret to Escape Hunt Fremantle’s uniqueness and success probably lies in the passion of its owner, Dave Pearson, who remains hands-on in the construction of each and every room.
Says Dave of his CV so far, “My background is in metallurgy and business development. I’ve recently worked fly-in fly-out of the UK developing an aluminium business. Also, I learnt to make and build things as a boy from my dad who was a builder and plumber. Building escape rooms relaxes me, and it’s always challenging.”
One of the latest games at Escape Hunt is Alice In Puzzleland which, as its name suggests, is inspired by the famous Lewis Carroll stories of Alice In Wonderland.
Taking part in this adventure, I felt as giddy as the first time I read Carroll’s books.
The room appears fairly small at first – a little like Alice might have encountered when she first arrived at the bottom of the rabbit hole – but as players absorb clues and pass tests, they’re lead to more space and room to move.
For the design of Alice In Puzzleland, Escape Hunt employee Kate Fitzgerald says she wanted “to recreate that wonderland feel to every aspect”.
“It’s as colourful as can be,” says Kate. “And everything is a bit out there. There are surprises at every turn, and I’ve also tried to make every prop special and unique.”
Indeed there’s loads of detail here and there for those with a curiouser eye, and plenty of Wonderland references for puritans and trainspotters alike.
Look closely and you’ll see objects such as clocks and jars and teacups all painstakingly painted with motifs lifted straight from Carroll’s fantastical books.
Kate also works as Escape Hunt Fremantle’s receptionist and as an assistant to players and teams who might require more clues to navigate their room.
“Some teams will absolutely call for clues for every puzzle,” she reveals. “We don’t have a limit on clue-giving, like some escape rooms do. In fact, we encourage teams to call for help when they’re stuck, and there’s nothing wrong with getting a clue on every puzzle.
“We would much rather people have fun and solve puzzles than become super-frustrated and not solve anything.”
Kate says her favourite room currently is indeed Alice In Puzzleland, revealing it to be Escape Hunt Fremantle’s “first fully automated room”.
“There are no padlocks or keys in the room. It also has some amazing theming. I’d recommend this room to anyone who hasn’t done an escape room before as it’s a good introduction.”
On the subject of changing rooms, owner Dave says Escape Hunt attempt to bring new rooms (or “games”) into the fold every six months or so. Aside from Alice, the premises currently play host to a variety of adventures – a couple of them with clever local themes.
There’s The Pub Heist in which players break into a pub to find hidden gold bars – originally stolen from the Perth Mint; and Wild Western Jail Break where teams work to sneak the head of a Fremantle gang of robbers out of jail.
There are also games with themes of piracy, wizardry and even espionage.
“We brought two new rooms to the market in June 2020 and Alice In Puzzleland in October,” tells Dave. “We always try to do something new with each new room. [Two recent rooms were the largest seen in Perth]. Alice is now completely lock-free [the last lock was removed this week]. And we always involve the staff and customers, floating ideas across focus groups to see what is exciting to them.”
One question groups often ask upon visiting Escape Hunt is should they allocate a team leader to maintain control of proceedings.
Says Kate, “Having a team leader can be a good strategy. This can help you to stay on track and keep you from getting bogged down in the little things to focus on the big picture.”
It’s also sure to make team member suggestions more clearly heard as opposed to all over one another. But we’ll leave that up to you to manage.
Antonino Tati & Lisa Andrews
GIVEAWAY! Win a double pass to Escape Hunt Fremantle for you and a friend!
Courtesy of Escape Hunt Fremantle, Cream is giving away a double pass for you and friend to enjoy one of their fantastic games rooms. To be in the win, simply email your name, address and Subject heading ‘Escape Hunt 2020’ to email@example.com by 5pm AWST, Monday 30 November, 2020. Winners will be drawn on Tuesday 01 December, 2020.