You’ve probably heard of them — maybe your kids have attended parties there or you’ve attempted a virtual round or two online — but escape or puzzle room experiences are more than just fun and innovative birthday party ideas. They’re also extremely popular with adults, encouraging friends and co-workers to plan and strategize together solving puzzles creatively, while socializing and enjoying a stimulating few hours away from the stresses of work and daily life.
Designed to employ a variety of senses while promoting co-operation and teambuilding, escape rooms provide a series of clues and puzzles that you and your teammates will need to solve during a set time limit in order to “escape.” Sounds challenging? It is, but it’s also highly entertaining and an experience that will engage you immediately. “All of your senses are stimulated and some puzzles require physical tests, which adds to the appeal of real life escape rooms,” says Sebastian Tornincasa of Rubix Rooms.
Different exit room companies offer a variety of uniquely themed rooms of varying levels of difficulty, so if you’ve solved one, there are always more to try. Originally from Japan, escape rooms are now a popular entertainment experience across Ontario, designed to accommodate between two and 20 players at a time, with analytical thinking skills and logical thought patterns being challenged and utilized in ways many of us are not generally familiar with. If you’re worried about the overall concept — or the name — rest assured: you don’t have to be extremely athletic to participate, and no, you’re not actually locked in the room. You can “escape” at any time if needed. But, once you’re in, you’ll probably feel compelled to solve the puzzle with your friends or co-workers, because it’s just that much fun. You’ll begin your adventure by hearing a story, generally concerning a death or murder or who-done-it, which sets the tone for the puzzle solving. Depending on the level of difficulty you choose, you may receive only a few clues or hints to help you, or unlimited ones until your puzzle is solved.
It’s fair to say many escape room themes play on your fears. “For those rooms, it’s absolutely on purpose. Others, such as our Aunt Edna’s Condo, just offer a compelling story or scenario,” explains Timothy Taylor, owner of The Crux Escape Rooms. “’Scary’ is a theme all unto itself in escape rooms, borrowing heavily from the well-established Haunt industry. The puzzles tend to be easier in those rooms, as the player will be focused a lot on the distractions.” On the other hand, some rooms cater to younger puzzle solvers – even as young as six years of age. “We have focused more on family friendly and enjoyable games.
There are pros and cons to both, but ultimately, it is a matter of preference to each person,” says Greg Cichosz, Chief Operating Officer of KeyMasters. There are benefits to game play for everybody, and sometimes one person’s skill, intuition or talent is brought to light. “Escape rooms require everyone who’s playing to work together as a team,” says Tornincasa. “They help groups with communication and team building skills. Tasks need to be delegated and many challenges require a team effort in order to facilitate the escape from the room.” Co-operation is essential in order to succeed as a team. “This is what makes escape rooms such a compelling team building activity for companies,” says Taylor. He says the least successful escapees are groups that either all think the same way about situations, or groups that won’t listen to the opinions of others.
So, if you’re looking for a fun way to pass the time that will also encourage thinking outside the box, escape rooms might be a way to “escape” from the routine of daily life. You could spend the next several months secreting yourself away in different rooms as there are so many to choose from. Check out the links below, pick a room/theme, put a group together and see if you can abscond from the clutches, and the lure, of the escape room.