Dr. M

by Mission Escape

Dr. M is a renowned chemist. His son, on the other hand, only has eyes for astronomy. Undeterred, Dr. M tries to shape his son into a chemist as outstanding as himself. He imparts his heir with the totality of his knowledge while forcing him to take courses in chemistry. Eventually, his son can no longer handle the pressure and commits suicide to avoid a life he doesn’t want. Since the loss of his son, Dr. M’s grasp on reality slips further and further until he starts experimenting on living people. Unfortunately for you and your friends, you’ve awoken in a room after a drug-induced coma and Dr. M is aiming to make you his next experiment…can you guys escape the fate of becoming laboratory rats?

From the Mission Escape website
Dr. M

Review

Dr. M has a time limit of 80 minutes. We completed it with time to spare, with a team of eight.

The room started with a brief verbal introduction in the lobby. Upon visiting their website, I realised that the introduction only covered part of the scenario, which would have explained the theming of some of the rooms we went through. The introduction was conducted by a staff member whose delivery came across as rather flat.

That said, we were led into the room chained and blindfolded, and it certainly set the mood. This positively coloured my first impression of the first room. We took a long time to work out what to do next, but that was because we completely overthought everything. The actual puzzle was quite simple!

We also took far too long on the second puzzle, again due to our own oversight (okay, maybe a little bit of stupidity too). Solving those the puzzles, however, produced no real “Ah-hah!” moments, simply a shake of the head at our slowness. There was also one particular puzzle that we missed completely as we accidentally ‘solved’ it and opened the door.

Overall, the puzzles were quite rote, standard puzzles with little ingenuity or deviation from the common formula. There was only one puzzle that was the exception to that rule. That said, the puzzles were still puzzle-y enough to have us scratching our heads from time to time, and to make the experience enjoyable. There were also ‘puzzles’ that were more like tasks, where the solution is obvious but completing it takes some physical skill--and, alas, hand-eye-leg coordination.

There was one particularly unique task which used lasers and cool technology. That was also a double-edged sword as it required some degree of physical ability (and flexibility!) to complete. It was, however, also possible to get through by picking our losses carefully. There were also two puzzles where was possible to end the game prematurely if you took too many tries. We failed one, and thankfully weren't kicked out—but the staff members had to come in and manually reset the puzzle which ruined the immersion.

Except for the beginning, there was little to speak of by way of theme, atmosphere or story. Escape consisted of solving a series of self-contained puzzles and opening one lock after another until we got out, and the puzzles themselves weren't well-integrated with the theme. It was quite clear which clues were linked to which locks, and the game proceeded very linearly. There were no red herrings, save for those we created ourselves by accidentally brute-forcing one puzzle!

There was a countdown clock in one of the rooms so we knew how much time we had left, but we didn’t see much of it as we moved on to the next room.

It was an enjoyable experience, but we think there are other rooms in Sydney that provide more bang for your buck. Still, if you've run out of other escape rooms, this one's worth your while.

Hint system

Terrible. Hints were given via a walkie-talkie that didn’t seem to work for some of the time, and was also too quiet to hear when it did work. The hints given also seemed to be from a standard list as opposed to hints tailored specifically for our group’s current situation. Finally, we were told that we only had a specific number of hints we could use.

Difficulty

Not too challenging, save for one or two puzzles. Suitable for beginners.

Skills

Having some physical ability helps!

What we liked

Being led into the room at the start—the way they did it created a lot of tension and excitement
-pyko

Our recommendation

Enjoyable, but you'll get better value elsewhere.

Visited on 19 Feb 2015 by pyko and friends

At a glance

The puzzles themselves are good, but everything else around the puzzles lack polish. There are also ‘puzzles’ that are more tasks to be completed than actual puzzles to be solved, and all puzzles are self-contained with no thematic consistency.

Recommended?

Depends

Pros

  • Interesting puzzles
  • The room starts in a rather unique fashion
  • Five rooms to work through, with some pretty cool technology

Cons

  • One of the puzzles can be ‘solved’ entirely by accident
  • No thematic consistency to puzzles or the overall set of rooms
  • Rooms are rough around the edges and unpolished (they look a bit cheap)
  • Hint system still needs work

You will like this if...

  • You want rooms that are relatively straightforward with compartmentalised puzzles
  • You don’t care about themes, story or polish—you just want to solve puzzles and feel smart, dammit!

You might not like this if...

  • You want story and theme to play a part in the puzzles, and an immersive atmosphere
  • You’re looking for those flash-of-brilliance “Ah-hah!” moments
  • You want puzzles that require more thought than action

Recommended number

Four to five people. It’s too easy to overthink things with more people, but there are also a lot of puzzles and at least one of them requires three people.