Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Great Escape (Rooms!)

Pretty sure this is my best look ever.

Today is my birthday.  Woop-woop.  

Yesterday, we celebrated this fact (a day early, but hey, I was born two days early, so I'm all for doing things in advance), by taking a trip to The Escape Rooms in Plymouth.

If you're wondering what on Earth that is, let me attempt to explain...

Escape Rooms (also known as Exit Games, Adventure Rooms and other similar titles) are a real-life version of escape-themed computer games, in which you're put into a room, the door is locked behind you and you then have a time limit (usually an hour) in which to solve the various hidden (and not-so-hidden) puzzles dotted around the room, in order to find the key that gets you back out again.  Ever since I first heard about these games, back in January this year, I've been dying to have a go, so it was with great excitement that I arrived at The Escape Rooms in Plymouth, yesterday.

Obviously, if I told you too much about what we discovered inside the game, it might lead to me accidentally giving away some of the puzzles you have to solve, which would defeat the object, so forgive me if this particular review is sketchy.  It's purposefully so, but for the best reasons, I swear...

Anyway, on arrival, we were given a quick rundown of what was about to happen and told what the best time any team had taken to get out of the room was (24 minutes).  We had picked the Germ room, which was Cold War themed.  Our mission was to solve clues left us by a double agent, in order to escape without being attacked by chemical weapons.

Now, for my claustrophobic friends: don't fret.  These games could still be for you.  The first room we entered in our quest was relatively big and the health and safety brief we had before the game started reassured us that we could come out at any time if we felt unwell or needed the toilet etc.  We were also given a walkie talkie, so we could ask for help if we needed it and we were reassured that the rooms are all monitored by CCTV and that if we looked like we needed a clue, one would come!  So, we cast any fears aside and went straight into puzzle-solving mode, as soon as the door was closed behind us.

I wasn't expecting the game to be so immersive; the second we were locked in, I was no longer just "Emma."  I was a contestant on The Crystal Maze.  Seriously, the adrenaline kicked in, I became intensely aware of the fact that we only had an hour to solve everything and make our way back out and I started expecting this guy to appear...

"Ooh, Mumsie!  We've got guests in the Germ Room!"

Once you're inside the room, it's time to find your role on the team.  There were five of us and although we started out running around like headless chickens and probably not communicating all that well, we eventually settled into something of a routine, with one or two of us trying various combinations on several locks, with the rest of us trying to solve as many puzzles as we could, in order to work out what those combinations might be.

When we eventually got the key we'd been so desperately searching for and unlocked the door it fitted, we were surprised to find ourselves in another room.  And there was a third room after that! Discovering that the game didn't end the second we unlocked that first door definitely made it feel like good value for money.  The price for five of us was £70, so £14 each and we all agreed that it was money we were happy to pay for the experience we had. 

Nothing was physically challenging (I had to jump at one point, to reach something on a high shelf, but that's only because I'm incredibly short and wasn't wearing heels...), but there was plenty of mental exercise to be getting on with!  Lots of hunting for clues, working out double meanings and, as the very friendly staff member put it: "looking at things from a different perspective."

We eventually made it out with just three minutes to spare and I'm not ashamed to say that I did a big squeak of delight as we unlocked that final door and burst into the corridor beyond!

 It was a brilliant way to spend an hour - a great team-bonding exercise, a good mental workout and a fantastic adrenaline rush.  We're already talking about all the other escape rooms we plan to try!!

So, if you're looking for a day out with a difference, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend trying an escape room.  Give it a go - and let me know how you get on!

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