Are you smart enough to escape?

Are you smart enough to escape?


Johannesburg - You’ve discovered a secret door, leading to a mysterious room that has been untouched for more than half a century. You put your hand on the handle and slowly push the door the open. Cautiously, you step inside and look around. The room is dark, except for the sliver of light coming from the passage you're standing in. You venture a little further in and suddenly the door slams behind you, trapping you inside. There is a way out, but clearly the owner of the room has concealed it behind a series of puzzles that need to be solved. Can you escape the room? Can you do it in under an hour?

Welcome to Escape Room. It's a physical adventure game based in Hyde Park in Johannesburg, in which people are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve intricate puzzles in order to escape. The concept started in Melbourne Australia through the creative genius of Owen Spear and Ali Cheetham. It also featured in an episode of Big Bang Theory (watch below).

Newsful went along for the experience at the newly opened venue at Dunkeld West Center and caught up with part owner Laurence Milner.

We played with just two people, although the game is optimally suited for four and will allow up to six players.

There are no rules and no order in which to solve the puzzles. You'll have to figure that out when you're inside. 

Much like the stealth and strategy video games, Escape Room provides you with a control room assistant. He or she is not part of your game experience, but keeps a watchful eye over your through the use of cameras and a two-way communication device. 

Your facilitator will give you a brief before you start your mission. She will tell you that the red locks are her locks and you must not try to open them. Take the advice. It is given in truth. You'll also hear that all mechanisms open with ease. If you're forcing something open, you're doing it wrong. Stop. Again, take the advice.

If your facilitator fears you're running out of time, you'll receive a prompt. Discuss the way you receive your prompts before you start your mission. We felt that at times, that an unnecessary prompt was given when we were on the path to solving a puzzle.

Laurence explained the role of a facilitator in game play. They are highly trained individuals who monitor each player for body language like frustration or confusion. They're job is to ensure that you keep the pace of problem solving and that you have the maximum enjoyment level. Facilitator's also keep an eye on your timer and will intervene if you are falling behind. That was the reason behind why we received a prompt without asking for it. We quickly rectified that by asking our facilitator to contact us with an offer for assistance instead of providing a clue without a prompt. 

The room is designed with materials from the era you are playing it. Laurence said the process of acquiring the materials for the rooms was the most timely in creating the experience for players. He said it starts with research and ends with visits to antique stores to find the right material. We found rank the attention to detail on God Mode. Make no mistake, each piece you will come across is specifically from the time frame you are playing in. 

"We're sure that there are going to be others who will attempt to replicate Escape Room in their own version. It's a lot of research and we worked with Owen and a host of engineers to ensure that players would be transported into the game they are playing," said Laurence. Escape Room Melbourne is consistently ranked highest among all the Escape Room experiences.

If you're wondering why there aren't pictures of the room, it's because it would defeat the purpose of it being a secret. On that note, using Google to help you solve clues will also not help. Escape Room is set in a specific time in history and is adapted to the country the scene takes place in. Also, the more time you waste on Google, the less time you have to actually solve the puzzles. Take our word and put your mobile device away.

Laurence said his venue has just opened up a second room. This one is set in a mine that players must escape from.

Our overall assessment is that it's an unforgettable experience that will certainly leave you with bragging rights and the desire to do it again.

Difficulty: 4/5
Attention to detail: 10/10
Price: R500 for 2 players; R720 for 3; R920 for 4; R1,075 for 5; R1,200 for 6
Online Bookings and Timetable: Yes. Click here.

Pay by EFT, Cash or Card: Yes
Slots: 09:30 - 20:00, daily.
Number of players: 2-6, ideally four people.
Time limit: 60 minutes
Venue: First Floor, Dunkeld West Center (where Fournos Bakery is)
Other venues in South Africa: No.
Can be used for: Parties, Team Building, Personal Enjoyment 

WIN two free tickets to Escape Room's Disappeance challenge! Simply follow the clue below. Are you up for the challenge?



  • The promoter of this competition is Newsful: Useful News Now, hereafter referred to as 'Newsful'.
  • This competition starts on 22 April 2016 and closes on 22 May 2016. No late entries will be accepted.
  • The competition is open to all South African residents who are 18 years and older.
  • No director, employee, agent or consultant of Newsful, or their spouses, life partners, business partners or immediate family members, or the supplier of goods and services in connection with this competition may participate.
  • To enter this competition, participants must simply click on the symbol bearing the Facebook logo and this will take you to a URL address ( where you and your partner must Like our official Facebook page to be eligible.
  • By entering this competition (by submission of a response or otherwise), each entrant acknowledges that he/she has read the rules applicable to this competition and agrees to be bound thereby. In particular, the entrant is reminded that all related responses submitted in this competition becomes the property of Newsful upon submission, and, may be used by Newsful in advertising and/or promotional media promotional media (or for any other purpose).
  • Multiple entries are not permitted.
  • The promoter is not liable for the failure of any technical element relating to this promotional competition that may result in an entry not being successfully submitted.
  • The promoter is not liable for any failure, be it technical, mechanical or otherwise in relation to the redeeming of the prize. All prize matter is handled exclusively by Escape Room South Africa ( 
  • Entries which do not adhere to the stipulation of entry will be declared invalid.
  • The prize is two free tickets to one game play in the Disappearance Room at Escape Room South Africa to the value of R500. The prize is not transferable for cash. 
  • The winner will be selected randomly via computer at the end of the competition on 23 May 2016 and will be notified by Facebook message within seventy-two hours of the selection having taken place. In the event that the winner cannot be successfully contacted following all reasonable attempts to do so on the Facebook handle from which the winning entry was selected, the promoter reserves the right to draw another winner in substitution. The name of the prize winner will also be published on after the competition has ended.
  • Winners must identify themselves by means of an ID document or other acceptable identification means and confirm receipt of their prize, which identification and confirmation shall be to the satisfaction of Escape Room South Africa. Any prize not taken up for any reason within one month of the close of the competition will be forfeited.
  • Any queries with regard to the delivery of prizes may be directed to Laurence at Escape Room South Africa on +27 72 277 2733.
  • By entering this competition all participants accept and agree to abide by these rules.
  • Participants who entered any Newsful competition and have won any prizes in the past 3 (three) months from the last day of the competition, will not be able to win again and will be disqualified from the competition.
  • The judges’ decision will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
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Tags: Escape Room South Africa Laurence Milner Dunkeld West Center Owen Spear Ali Cheetham



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