When Owen Spear and Ali Cheetham opened their vintage-themed escape room in March last year, it was the only one in Melbourne. Since then, dozens have followed.
Broadly speaking, they all offer the same thing. You and a few mates are “locked” in a room. You need to solve abstract puzzles to escape within a set time limit. Clues might be hidden in picture frames, locked in boxes, or encoded in background music.
Seeing this proliferation of rooms, Cheetham and Spear have stepped up their game with Surveillance: Division 5. It’s a truck parked somewhere in Flemington, and you have to break in, rather than out.
As with the duo’s previous three experiences, a good storyline is key. Here, you’ve been accused of murdering an ASIO agent. Their colleague is drugged and you have to break in before they wake up.
Cheetham and Spear have enlisted the help of local businesses to enrich the story. For the first half (about 35 minutes), you’ll be roaming the surrounding streets looking for clues and interacting with the odd actor. The second half is spent inside the truck, searching for the details you need to clear your name.
Businesses can hire Surveillance: Division 5 to come to them (the format is slightly shorter). At other times, it will appear in South Melbourne, near the Mine Escape and Kellar’s Magic Emporium rooms.