Want to feel like Sherlock Holmes or Veronica Mars? Then the name of the game is Escape the Room. These venues provide an interactive experience where players find clues to help them escape a room on a 60-minute countdown.
Haunted houses, interactive theater and scavenger hunts are precursors to these type of games, which have been merging and evolving since the ’90s. But it wasn’t until 2007 that the first documented Escape Room called SCRAP opened in Kyoto, Japan.
Five years later, the game made its way across the pacific into San Francisco, where it was renamed Real Escape Room (REG). From there, the next two venues opened in NYC, and it didn’t take long for more rooms to sprout all over the country.
Escape room’s play on the premise of fantastic plots; like find the antidote before the mad scientist releases a deadly poison, alien invasions or murder mysteries. Each venue usually has several rooms with different themes and difficulty levels, so there is sure to be one that tickles your fancy.
Escape adventures usually take place within the confines of a room — or several rooms — with decorations that allude to the theme of the game, and where players will gather clues they have obtained from solving puzzles and riddles.
There are also clues inside objects around the room, writings on the wall that can only be seen with a blacklight, and padlocks that secure more clues. And if you find yourself a little lost in the game, you can always ask the staff for help at the expense of minutes off the clock.
An example would be a clue written on a spinning fan. Leads would suggest turning off the lights and using a provided stroboscope to read the writing on the whirling fan. The Escape OKC for instance, has incorporated chess games, a handheld inspection camera and even smell tests.
The key to beating the clock lies in working as a team and leaving no part of the room upturned. That’s why these games are perfect for groups of four to eight friends, co-workers or family members. Escape rates range between 25-40 percent, and although you don’t need any special knowledge to solve the clues and have a good time, out of the box thinking and curiosity are a must.