Wherever you are in the world, you’ll probably find an escape room close by. We’ve tackled escape rooms all over the UK, in Slovenia, Portugal, Hungary and even Cambodia. It’s a wonderful family experience. For each, the premise is pretty much the same. You get locked in a room (don’t worry – you can always get out if you want to) and have sixty minutes to puzzle your way out. Rooms usually have a clear theme and story: you may be required to piece clues together to solve a murder, shut down an out of control computer before it blows up the world or save a girl from being eaten by zombies. Puzzles are varied and multi-faceted. You will have to search the room carefully for hidden items – check in hollowed out chair legs, door frames and sofa cushions. Don’t expect anything to be exactly what it seems. You may find a hidden room through a wardrobe or framed picture. Some clues may only reveal themselves in ultra-violet light, others may be delivered by live actors taking on the parts of characters in your story.
Many escape room centres have multiple rooms so that you can select the theme that appeals to you the most. Clues and hints are usually provided for teams that need it by an operative watching you through CCTV. The hints may arrive by walkie talkie, on a screen in the room or via an old fashioned telephone. Some games are harder than others but most are designed for teams to be able to complete just within the allotted time.
Success rates vary widely according to difficulty, but even if you don’t quite escape within the time, you’ll still have a marvellous experience searching the room for clues, trying to work your way through the puzzles and making deductions as a team. You may discover hidden rooms and secret passageways, trigger countdowns and detonators and be confronted with real characters within the story; escape rooms provide immersive and exciting experiences. They do tend to be expensive, however, so we usually plan to do these on birthdays or special occasions. Most rooms are best for 3-4 people, but the operating company will advise on optimum numbers. Quality does vary, so it is worth reading reviews to make sure you’re seeking out the best.
If you can’t get to an escape room, buy an ‘escape room in a box’. These are single-play board games designed to give you an escape room experience from home. They are much cheaper than visiting a real escape room, though obviously not such an immersive experience. I recommend the Exit: The Game series.