For the past five years, the team behind Newtown’s escape room company, The Cipher Room, has “locked” volunteer attendees in its three King Street themed rooms (the doors are not locked for security reasons. , that symbolic), presenting trapped players with a series of enigmatic clues to facilitate their escape. The recently opened Mr Pepper’s toy store is Cipher’s first game in his spacious new warehouse in St Peters, which co-owner and game designer Marise Watson will eventually contain five new games.
“This is more than double the size of our [Newtown] location, ”says the former writer, who is now a game co-designer with her business partner and husband David Vella. “The most exciting thing is the high ceilings; it really opens up the space and creates some fun opportunities.
Their latest adventure takes place in modern times, and participants are portrayed as ghost-hunter real estate agents stepping into the titular toy store, abandoned for over 70 years. Like its sister experiments in Newtown, it promises a slow reveal of progressive unlockable spaces filled with period-appropriate props, an ambient soundtrack (which itself may contain a clue or two), and ingeniously original puzzles. seamlessly integrated into the theme.
The Cipher Room (which was voted 15th in a 2018 list of the best escape room companies in the world by the Top Escape Rooms project), has a reputation for welcoming escape enthusiasts for some of the nicest rooms, stimulating and immersive Sydney. His existing games, including the black and white mystery of the Hotel Marlowe, the espionage experience of WWII Spying, and the Wolf creek-esque rural horror of The cabin all consistently topping Australia’s best lists.
With the promise of plenty of spooky dolls and vintage (possibly haunted) furniture, Watson says they’ve taken great care to make sure Mr Pepper’s toy store is a refreshing addition to Cipher’s suite of games.
“I always go to the theme first, and then we create puzzles that fit into that theme,” says Watson of the process of building a new room, which in this case took over eight months. “I have visited a lot of vintage stores over the years, buying old accessories for our other games. I always noticed how scary a lot of old toys were, so I started collecting them with a view to using them as props in a game one day.
“We’ve definitely increased the scare factor in this game, so we recommend it for people over 16,” she adds, suggesting that there might be some surprises even for the lesser escape room enthusiast. more experienced (“I can ‘don’t say too much, because I don’t want to ruin everything…”).
As for what will be the remaining four games that are expected to fill The Cipher Room’s new St Peters space? For now, we remain in the dark.