When I’m not boardgaming, working or winding up my partner, we’re escaping from rooms. If you’ve never done an escape room you’re seriously missing out. And that’s not me being dramatic; I’ve done about 9? Probably more? Anyway, I’ve done plenty and they’re a properly amazing experience. No lies. I can’t actually convey how awesome an experience they are… Sure some are quite gimmicky and cheesily themed but you lose yourself in the moment very quickly. The basis of an escape room is; you’re in a room, given an objective, and told to escape within a time limit. It’s simple enough but the theming and layout can change the experience from room to room.
I was first introduced to Escape Rooms about 6 years ago. It was on a whim as I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do on my birthday so I chose something off the cuff to do with my partner and family. The only room available was ‘The Mad Scientist’ or something like that. It only had 2 rooms to it; an initial lobby and a lab. We were led in blindfolded (for a first experience that straight away signalled red flags) and were then handcuffed in cubicles (again, more and more red flags). Then the room organiser gave us an introductory bit of lore for what’s happened and why we’re there and at that point we were very much ‘Yeah this is cheesy’. Then the blindfolds came off, we discussed what we could see around us, one of us got an idea of how to escape the cuffs and THEN it was game time. No longer were we having fun and joking, it was actually life or death. Failure was not an option as the entire human race depended on us! You’ll be surprised how quickly your party members become valuable assets when trying to prevent a deadly disease from escaping a lab. Those people you’d known for years and had joked about being daft or ridiculous were the only people you’d want around you in that situation. No matter who it is, if they’re experiencing it as you are then they’re as determined to win. I won’t go into too much detail of the room but I will tell you that everyone played a part in the escape. And that’s how it is for nearly all the rooms I’ve played, no one has ever been deadweight. But anyway, we didn’t finish in the allotted 55minutes but the gimmick for this particular escape room was that 1 member could stay behind for 5 extra minutes. The 5 of us left, escorted in shame our leaving my old man behind.. and I don’t lie when I say this, but he got out before we did! We were on the last lock and couldn’t figure the combination but as we were leaving he’d cracked it and crawled out the hidden tunnel.
Some escape rooms are very linear and some allow lots of freedom, but each style of room has its advantages and disadvantages. The worst room I’ve played, and that’s not at all saying it was a bad room, was also the most complicated. It was a competitive room so team against team and we’d split up boys v girls. The rooms were identical and it was a basis of who could get out, or get closest to getting out, out of the teams. Neither team escaped, and we both got to the same stage, but the room was tremendously nonlinear. All clues led to one puzzle which opened another room where the set up was similar; find clues to lead to one puzzle. But the lack of structure and insane number of clues to lead to the puzzle meant that we needed to find all possible puzzle pieces for each part of the puzzle before we got there. It was anarchy. Had we been a more veteran team we’d have done much better… but it was my 3rd room and many of us had never done a room before. This was my only failure of a room ever. The room was just beyond us.
The last experience I’ll talk about was a bank heist room. We needed to steal a diamond.. The Black Diamond. I loved it, we actually felt like cat burglars stealing from an art museum or something. And in reality we’d have been terrible and caught more or less immediately. Excitable and loud, however we were efficient. By this point the entire team had done a fair few rooms and in a fair few places and we knew the ropes. We got a pretty good time too! But the tech in the room was awesome. As we were walking in we were told to ‘watch for lasers’ and that’s probably what set off the excitement… We spent 5 minutes arguing and not touching anything. Lasers were a brand new addition! Very exciting. Nonetheless, we stole the diamond.