By Isabella Tsai
Illustration by Ashton Carless
Imagine being able to step inside a computer game. The newest trend in recreational entertainment has made that possible, creating what are now known as escape rooms. These rooms are the real-life version of the point and click computer “escape games” where players are trapped in a virtual room and left to find clues hidden under couch cushions and behind paintings that are crucial to getting out.
My seven friends and I decided to take up this escape room challenge, to willingly lock ourselves up in a room,find clues, and solve puzzles to get out in under 60 minutes. We chose a room themed “The Villain’s Lair.” In this room, participants pose as secret agents captured and thrown in prison and have to work together and disarm bombs to escape from the underground cave. With only a 23% success rate, this challenge would be a test of friendship, teamwork, and problem solving skills.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a wall completely covered with Polaroids of grinning faces. These groups immortalized on “The Wall” had completed the mission with only one hint or less. Seeing all of the successful escapees left us hopeful despite the unfavorable odds. After shelling out 35 dollars per person, we were led into a dark room with only a timer for 60 minutes brightly flashing in red above our heads.
The first five minutes were utter chaos. We were separated in two groups in adjacent prison cells. Each cell was a flurry of action. The room was a chorus of voices, each person trying to make their opinion heard, all while time continued to tick by. Frustration was building up, and we had to assign roles before we started turning on each other. Soon our group had leaders who directed our prison cell investigations, and our work as a team began.
I don’t want to give too much away about the intricacies of the room, but its challenging reputation preceded it. For a full hour, everyone’s brains were working overtime. We had to guide a magnetic ball through a maze situated on the wall between cells. The cell with the magnet controlling the ball couldn’t see the maze, and had to rely on the other cell’s instructions. Then we had to walk across a pressure sensitive LED floor in a specific pattern to get to the next section, where we were faced with the task of disarming six active bombs
By the end of this ordeal, we were done with teamwork. At the 55 minute mark some of us just sat down in defeat and watched as few others started to try random lock combinations in hopes of getting lucky. Needless to say, we were not successful in escaping the room.
I probably used my brain more in that hour than in all of summer break. In those 60 minutes I was excited, scared, confused, challenged, and frustrated, in that order, and it was amazing. However, rather than paying $35 to get locked up for an hour, I suggest downloading the free escape game app instead.