The lock pops open in my hands and I pull it off the door as quickly as I can. As the entry swings open, I step forward excitedly - and the lights go out.
Although I'm not new to this mechanic in escape rooms, in this darkness, my pulse starts to race as I realise that I can barely see and a few feet away, my friend finds another clue.
"Oh my god."
In the silence, we hear the moan of a death rattle and all of a sudden, none of us are quite so quick to press on.
Parapark hails from Budapest and is the mother of what we now know of as escape rooms. They bring to Sydney a plethora of international experience from eight other countries and the wisdom of knowing what works to make you sweat during your escape.
Their logo is a classic bent nail puzzle, an elegant representation of simple solutions in seemingly impossible situations, and their name as Emi patiently explains to me, borrows meaning from the term paranormal.
They have been open since November, but it's now late February and business has only just started picking up. Being located in Macquarie Park, they're unfortunately tucked away from the bright lights of the CBD where spontaneous post-dinner visits are a possibility.
That said, Parapark is more than certainly worth the trip.
Currently, they only offer one theme, 9A Gateway, but they are well on their way to completing two new themes (including a crime-scene based room, which has certain members of my group quite excited) within the next couple of months.
The room is sharply designed, with ingenious use of technology and amazing atmosphere. At this point, my friends and I had completed ten other rooms in Sydney, and we were seeing things in 9A Gateway that we had never seen before - a member of the group mentioned afterwards that he felt like he was learning to do an escape room for the first time all over again.
Parapark Sydney: 9A Gateway Summary
Emi aptly describes 9A Gateway as being of medium difficulty. Puzzles are not exceedingly difficult, although clever use of technology keeps you on your toes. There is a balanced amount of searching and solving and a nice, clear sequential method to progression throughout the room. Those with an eye for detail will benefit greatly, and those who loathe maths will be happy to know that numerical skills are not a necessity.
The atmosphere in the room is simply amazing. Parapark uses sound, lighting, and the fear of the unknown to create perfect bumps in the night. Though immersive, the theme is not too frightening, and even those who have to cover their eyes during horror movies can have fun. Only two things stop me from giving Parapark a perfect score for theme: the lack of thematic consistency found in the puzzles, and the use of a walkie talkie for hints, which I will talk about in the section below.
Emi and Las are friendly, professional and hard-working. You'd never know that the room was put together with only the two of them! As hosts, they are impeccable, offering us drinks, talking us through the history of Parapark and making us feel comfortable and welcome. They kept a very close eye on us during our time in the room - so close that their hints were almost invasive at times and ruined the immersion in the theme a little bit, but their dedication is obvious and I do not doubt that Parapark will only benefit from their contribution.
Quality and Venue: 9.5/10
Parapark's lobby is a clean, welcoming combination of dark blue walls and soft brown leather sofas. Situated in a warehouse, they have plenty of room, newly rennovated facilities and well-lit, comfortable surroundings. The room was well-sized and with the ability to play around with space, I'm sure that the rooms still in production will be just as excellent.
A well-structured room, great service and a lot of fun.
What We Did
6-7 hints given
Finished with 14 minutes and 50 seconds to spare
Duration: 60 minutes
Child-friendly? While Parapark recommend this room for players of 14 years and older, they do allow children to play with strict adult supervision.
Price: $150 for 5 players, $140 for 4 players, $120 for 3 players, $90 for 2 players.
Booking: Simple. Available online. Make sure you search "parapark sydney". Full payment is required in advance. Vouchers can also be bought on their website by becoming a member - a perfect gift for your puzzle-loving friend!
2/119 Wicks Road
Macquarie Park 2113