Sitting home in the dark, playing The Room (or its sequel The Room 2) or any of the many Escape the room games not enough for you anymore? Apparently you are not alone. One of the current installation trends building over the last year are real-time/real-life escape the room scenarios.
What is an Escape The Room Scenario? Well imagine that you are locked in a special environment and have roughly one hour for yourself and/or your team to figure out how to get out. There are generally clues that lead to more clues that lead to your escape. These can run from straight forward key hunting to riddles to truly bizarre and random references.
The theme of the installation is the real key here. Some are very basic, while others are so intricate that they involve dressing participants in period costumes like that insanely, elaborate Murder Mystery Party at your weird work-mates house last summer. The set dressing and actor interactions can help to immerse they participants deeper and deeper into the game, thus heightening the experience.
After the theme the other key to both immersion and enjoyment for the participants is how the clue structure is designed. Most of us have played an Escape Game and had to cheat and look up the answer, only to find out the key we are looking for is buried in a box, under a fish, in the wall, behind a map of Spain (or some other random “how could I possibly know that” clue. A good Escape the Room game (digital or physical) allows for common sense in the clues, however in the case of a real-life escape, it is essential that the clue be challenging but grounded in some reality.
The theming and clues are all based on the “story” of the game. All good Escape installations have a well thought out story that participants can easily understand and “get into”, without being too elaborate. Many installations set themselves apart by theming it to a specific genre.
- 20’s Gangster Bank Heists
- Horror Torture Room
- Locked in a Vault
For those who are fans of haunted houses or Halloween Haunts, these kind of installations are making a huge splash lately. With the introduction of Trapped to the Knott’s Scary Farm lineup a few years ago (and every year since), visitors have been pushed through a series “torture”: rooms, where the purpose is to discover the clues to escaping and moving on to another room.
How the evolution or indeed the sustainability of these attraction will continue outside of the haunt arena remains to be determined, but their popularity around the globe continues to increase.
Our team took the plunge and did one round with Wellington’s own Escapemate, which is housed in a basement/vault in the heart of the city. The location was well-played out, the story was engaging and the clues were both challenging and fun to sort through. We pride ourselves on being able to do these challenges but are not ashamed to say that we were short one clue that needed a gentle nudge from the game-master to point us in the right direction.
With their skilful and subtle hint we were able to redirect our attention back to where we were focusing and complete the task in literally the last second of the game’s hour-long playtime. It was a challenge but a rewarding one and a very entertaining and well themed way to spend some time with your friends or teammates. We would recommend it and will be returning (Escapemate has 2 scenarios) for the more difficult of the two rooms with the rest of our team.
With Halloween Haunt going into full swing and this sort of engagement-scenario becoming more and more popular worldwide it will be quite interesting to see how this evolves and as always BtT will be there to give you the clues and walk you through it all safely. Together we will all get out alive.