Escaping KL

Most of my reviews of overseas escape experiences are on my general-purpose blog, escape.sg. Given how close Kuala Lumpur is to Singapore, though, I figured that reviews of KL rooms could be placed here instead, since Singapore-based fans can easily make the trip to KL for an escape room marathon — as my team and I did in July 2016.

I cut short my trip and only tried one escape room company in KL (unlike the rest of the team, which tried a second one), but it’s probably the company most worth visiting!

Breakout (Malaysia)
http://www.breakout.com.my/

No relation to the Singapore escape room company of the same name, Breakout is an established player in KL, with two branches in posh and conveniently-located shopping malls. It was also the only KL escape room company recommended to us by the friendly people from Escman League, which probably says it all.

The overall set-up in both branches is very professional, with sleek-looking waiting areas and a dedicated game master for each team. The intro spiel is polished and delivered well — particularly important as Breakout seems to be the pioneer of a character-based power system which has been adopted by one Singapore company.

As for the rooms themselves, they’re great all-round experiences. In each room I played, the setting and atmosphere was polished and convincing, and there was a real sense of adventure. The puzzles are varied, largely logical and fair, with fun use of tech and some nice hands-on work required. And there’s a purposeful coherence to each room, with a good flow of puzzles and narrative. Puzzles are also incorporated smoothly into both the physical setting and the room plot.

Each room I played ended on a high, whether that was delivered by the puzzles, plot, physical activity, or any combination thereof. Playing Breakout’s rooms made me realise how much a strong ending can elevate an entire room experience.

Perhaps my only real point of criticism is that the rooms are strictly linear, with each puzzle/task clearly marked in sequence. This is helpful given the short 45-minute time limit, but can break immersion or be stifling if you prefer less linear rooms. Unfortunately, Breakout’s rooms are also decidedly not for players with mobility issues.

Nonetheless, if you haven’t guessed by now, Breakout in Kuala Lumpur is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Veteran teams will find plenty to enjoy, and beginners won’t be too lost if they pick the right character powers and get help.

If you can spare the time, you really should make the trip up north to visit them. And thanks to exchange rates, the rooms are significantly more affordable than their Singapore counterparts, making them an even more value-for-money experience.

Staff: Friendly, professional, and very on-the-ball. Briefings are delivered well and often with a touch of humour. After each room, you get a plot-relevant debrief, as well as a chance to ask for clarification on any puzzles, solutions or tasks that were unclear.

Hints: No hints unless you choose one of the characters that allows you to get hints.

Will your group be combined with strangers? No.

Rooms tried: 2 out of 6 at Nu Sentral, 5 out of 5 at Avenue K

Recommended team size: 3 to 5 people

If you’re going to KL, you might as well play all of Breakout’s rooms. But if you’re pressed for time, then here are some condensed thoughts on the rooms I played.

Nu Sentral
Materia Medica
The room starts off with fun physical elements which may be familiar if you’ve played a certain Xcape room here — the Breakout room came first, though. The puzzles aren’t all equally strong, but they’re fair and logical, and one puzzle is particularly satisfying in its integration into the room. The ending is inspired. Worth a try as a good all-round experience.
Difficulty: 3.5/5
Logic: 4/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5. Possible with 2.
The Testament of Tesla
This is meant to be the hardest room at the Nu Sentral branch. One early, dissatisfying puzzle made us worry that the difficulty would be high for the wrong reasons. Thankfully, the rest of the room is better, with puzzles that require tough but fair intuitive leaps. There are some nice moments that make good use of the room’s setup, including the finale. Recommended for veterans. Not recommended for beginners.
Difficulty: 4/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5. Possible but tough with 2.
Avenue K
Project Fallout
This is meant to be Avenue K’s easiest room, yet that doesn’t make it less satisfying. There aren’t many puzzles per se, and one mid-stage puzzle felt arbitrary in one aspect — yet from the creative beginning to the intriguing mid-stage and the exciting endgame, Project Fallout is simply a fun experience that’s recommended.
Difficulty: 2/5
Logic: 4/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5. Possible but less fun with 2.
Chamber of Hocus
This is a challenging room that’s full of surprises. One mid-stage puzzle felt a bit unsatisfying but is probably still fair. Apart from that, the puzzles are fine, and tasks that could be ordinary in another room are enlivened by some clever touches. Recommended, but beginners might want to pick their powers carefully.
Difficulty: 4/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5. Possible with 2.
Mr Oswald’s Greatest Show
If you’re a coward like me, rest assured Avenue K’s only ‘scary’ room is more creepy than terrifying. This is the strongest room for physical problem-solving and mechanics, and very satisfying in that regard (though it could get frustrating if you aren’t dexterous). The actual puzzles start off logical but get a little weak near the middle — still, this room is highly recommended, not least for the fun finale.
Difficulty: 3.5/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5. Tough with only 2.
The Greatest Murder of Westwood
This room earns its place as the hardest Breakout room, though it doesn’t sacrifice rigour in the process. There’s some excellent use of technology (not sensors and triggers, but actual gadgets), particularly in the endgame, and some puzzles with great aha moments. Highly recommended, but only for veterans.
Difficulty: 4.5/5
Logic: 3.5/5
Suggested players: 3 to 5. Technically possible with 2.
The Infinity
I like this split-start room more for its concept than its execution. The set-up is great but isn’t used in a satisfying way, making this is the only room that I wouldn’t recommend. You can still check it out for the novelty and the admittedly excellent finale, but be prepared for frustration and tedium along the way.
Difficulty: Hard to judge
Logic: Hard to judge
Suggested players: 4 to 6
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