If being locked in a room for an hour with strangers and needing to find the key to your escape sounds eerily like the Hunger Games, don’t worry–everyone’s on the same side in Escape the Room, an interactive game that allows mystery lovers to realize their dreams of being the next Sherlock Holmes or Robert Langdon. (In fact, Sherlock even gets a little shout-out in one of the games.)
Inspired by popular flash computer games and similar real-life games in Asia, game creator Victor Blake quit his finance job to bring five giant puzzle rooms (with more on the way) to New York. The premise of the game is this: You’re locked in a room with a group of strangers, friends, or both, and together you need to find the key and escape in just one hour. There’s even a game master who watches the activity through a camera (we imagine this is the most frustrating yet amusing job in the world) and offers a nudge in the right direction at key moments via carefully worded messages on the computer screen. The challenge requires only “finger strength,” according to the game master–and, of course, intellectual strength.
The Home, a Victorian-inspired version of the game, began with a seemingly-ordinary wood-paneled office filled with a desk, rug, bookshelf, fireplace, chest of drawers, and a few paintings hanging on the wall. We won’t give too much away, but none of these items could be taken at face value, and the clues they contained sent us scrambling from clue to clue for the next hour.
We found the key with two minutes to spare, a victory that had us cheering like little kids. Actually, there were kids in the group, too, as the game is great to share with older children. After we took victory photos, the game master walked us through the clues, pointing out the logic that linked them. There’s a current escape rate of 20%.
Escape the Room currently offers five games: The Office (10 players), The Agency (8 players) and The Home (6 players) at the West 31st Street location, and The Theater (12 players) and the The Apartment (11 players) at the downtown location on Suffolk Street.
Get in touch with the author @catku.