2nd August 2017
If you love an interesting puzzle then you’re going to be knocking down the door to see the interior of an Escape Room. An Escape Room is an exciting, live-action puzzle room challenge that has taken the UK by storm.
You think you’re in familiar territory…at first. You enter a seemingly innocent venue, like your local pub, but suddenly you find you’re not in JUST a public house after all. An intriguing character greets and guides you and your team into the hidden depths of the building where you find your entrance to a secret room.
Once inside, however, things change. You are no longer inside a normal venue. A game master greets you, explaining what is about to happen. Then the clock starts and you’re trying vainly to understand a bizarre immersive setting (this varies from time to time and game to game).
This is new! For the next hour you’re going to be met with strange, mysterious and twisted puzzles to solve and you’ll find yourself immersed as the clock ticks and time flies because you have but one single hour to find a way out and escape the room.
You are now in The Escape Room!
This may have a ring somewhat similar to movies like Hostel or Saw, but worry not; there is nothing actually frightening about this adventure. On the contrary, it’s a truly fun humorous hour you can spend together with a few friends or colleagues.
At first, of course, you’re confused. If you’re part of a team, you and your team fan out, exchanging hopeful comments. You may search along a bookshelf examining scraps of paper. Pieced together scraps may give you a three-digit code. This code may be used to open a lock, which in turn opens a drawer. Inside the drawer, you discover a torch and this may illuminate yet another code. Just knowing the clock is ticking creates an intensely exhilarating experience and when you do find an answer, it cannot be mistaken.
Today we live in a world in which technology-based innovation has us and almost everything we own connected to our smartphones tablets or our desktop computers. In a world where technology rules, an Escape Room live game brings something new and different to the table.
Aside from our daily work routine, most activities these days tend to be sorely lacking in mental challenges, Sudoku can only be so stimulating. We attend concerts, we watch TV, we game online and we Netflix and chill.
While this is fine and it’s essential to relax and wind down, as humans we need stimulation for our minds, indeed, our very psyches, need a bit of excitement to keep us sharp. We need to face and overcome challenges. An Escape Room guarantees to provide that challenge for you without forcing you to run into any actual danger.
Perhaps that explains the explosion of Escape Rooms as live games, a concept that is sweeping the entire world stage. Many different companies have begun to create and market Escape rooms but for many, it’s just a change of name and venue.
The team at Handmade mysteries are experts in creating fiendishly fun puzzle rooms to test your problem solving skills to the max. You must learn to see and unravel the clues to enable you to unlock the door, win the prize and find the route to your freedom. The general feeling here is that you feel as if you’ve jumped into a board game, but unlike the film, Jumanji, there is, of course, no actual threat to you.
We’d like to welcome you to Handmade Mysteries. For a surprising modest fee, you’ll find yourself locked inside our Escape Room. At this point, your freedom is at stake, as well as your honour. Everything depends on your ability to solve a line-up of fun but complex puzzles.
Handmade Mysteries combines elements of the staging and Crystal Maze style mental puzzles as well as immersive theatre. With rooms in London and Brighton currently, they have two fantastic games to pit yourself and your team against.
One of the very best Escape Room companies in the UK you’re welcome to come and experience the best, first.
Escape rooms have been opening their doors at a dizzying rate from the United States to the Philippines. Many describe Escape Rooms as the fastest growing trend in entertainment since the advent of the cinema. In addition, they have become a staple of stag and hen parties as well as corporate team-building exercises and nights out among friends. One might add that they can serve as an exciting alternative for a date night.
By now I’m sure you may be asking what makes these rooms tick, where did they come from? Who actually plays these games and what is behind their overwhelming ascent?
In 2013 the UK could boast but one escape room. Today there are nearly six hundred! Over half of that number has opened just during the past year and today only about fifteen per cent are based in London.
In the United States too, the games have exploded from three companies in the beginning of 2014 to approximately eight hundred this year. Leeds, Glasgow, Moscow, New York, Belfast, Tokyo and as well as in pubs the world over; some are even found inside private garages and now a mobile version is available as well.
Now mega companies such as Disney, Google, and even Ford, are getting into the act for team building. Even former President Barack Obama has tried one. We understand that on Christmas Eve he broke out of a room with twelve minutes to spare! (Apparently without the need for Air Force one).
Escape room origins remain something of a mystery. While Escape Rooms may have roots in haunted houses, game shows, and puzzle books, their most obvious sources must be the digital escape games that fill mobile app stores. These, in turn, have descended from point-and-click adventure type video games from the nineties such as Myst and the Seventh Guest.
However, such digital games offer only solitary experiences. Real-life escape rooms are, on the other hand, fast, social and quite physical. Rather than you having to drag your mouse back and forth while you search for one rogue pixel, you hurry about rummaging through desks and filing cabinets.
You shout updates to your teammates. When the game is going at its best you feel somewhat as if you’re in an Indiana Jones film, working your way through that inevitable scene where you must break open a sealed chamber using only an old notebook and your detailed if eccentric knowledge of ancient Sumerian.
Escape Rooms do more. They act strangely upon your brain. You stumble about trying to grasp the chain of logic what will lead you inexorably through the escape room to its exit, you begin to narrow your focus. I like to call it puzzle vision. You tune out all extraneous detail as you scan every object for any potential relevance and you learn to dismiss it without hesitation if there is none.
You must remain mentally flexible at all times, alive to possibilities you may not have previously considered. Resisting this myopia possibly created by these stunning if ephemeral scenes you may encounter. This is, of course, crucial to your successful escape.
I can only describe my own first experience inside an Escape room. It was so much fun having to face unexpected challenges and then to be able to make use of the clues we uncovered. One team member might be great at riddles, another a math puzzle could have been obvious…finding then decoding to make use of it. (I have to remain vague here because I don’t want to give away anything that might spoil the experience.)
It engaged my grey matter in a whole new way…. I was hooked!
Another question I hear is, do escape rooms cater almost exclusively to hard-core puzzle freaks or nerds?
I don’t believe this to be true at all. Many companies depend heavily on corporate groups or stag parties to earn their keep. Clearly, this may well appeal to those who would prefer something different to bowling or the cinema. And remember, this was not designed for nerdy gamers. Not at all. On the contrary, it caters to a diverse clientele and the list is growing.
Another arrival on the Escape Room scene is one, which very few people will know about until they visit its twisted escape room. It has been described by one player literally as “The Crystal Maze on Meth.”
This new twist has brought Escape Rooms to an increasingly busy intersection that brings games and theatre ever more closely together. After all, a bit of reflection will reveal why these businesses share a good deal in common with traditional theatre.
Both involve players (Shakespeare’s name for actors), and both play an active role in bringing the play or game to life. Both invite participants into a ritual space in which normal rules are suspended and both normally invest ordinary objects and materials with a special significance to the story.
Even if you’ve already tried an escape room, you’ll find Handmade Mysteries rooms are nothing like its predecessors. And it is so much better.
From one side there is immersive theatre, a form of play in which the audience take an active role in the story, becoming actors or “players” rather than mere spectators. An outstanding example is Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. This is a nonlinear adaptation of Macbeth in which patrons wander freely through a baroquely creepy hotel trying to divine the plot points that unfold before them. Similar ideas are also notable in other immersive activities such as the Secret Cinema.
All these activities, like a great live escape the room, share a kind of contract between designers and the audience. They share a commitment to sustaining an illusion. Sometimes this requires a bit of subterfuge on the part of the designer.
One thing most escape rooms share is a space that transports the player off to another, an alternate world. After all, it isn’t in the games master’s best interest to have the player get hopelessly stuck, and the games master certainly doesn’t want players to damage the room. This leads the games master to devise a system that enables the game to monitor the player’s progress and just a little help when it’s truly needed.
A good escape room creates the impression in your mind that all your deductions are entirely your own. However, in a good escape room, the truth is that you’re not quite as clever as you may think. But your experience is carefully arranged to that for each of the thousands of players, week after week, come upon the same solution and always believe they thought of it all by themselves.
With the explosion of today’s Internet across the globe, social activity has reached new, previously unknown heights, and in keeping with this trend, an escape room is a social game. Each team of players incorporates its own social personality with it. If any tensions exist between members of a team before entering, these will remain with the players once inside the Escape Room.
We all want and need memories. We need experiences. Most of us can afford to pay what is necessary for us to enjoy a given standard of living. For those who have an adequate source of income, the person may feel that he/she can buy more material things, but how many “things” will it take for you to feel satisfied?
Giving the matter due consideration, I believe that what people really need is not more gadgets or better cars etc. but rather, memories. Most homes today have plenty of mobile phones, tablets, TVs and desktop computers. Isn’t that enough? Deep within each of us, I believe, lurks an instinct to break out of the old routine and — so to speak — go off the grid.
There are other, more practical matters, to consider as well. The enormous success enjoyed by sites such as TripAdvisor and, of course, smartphones, makes Escape Rooms easier now to find. Owners of Escape Rooms often save advertising money by allowing their games to become popular through word-of-mouth.
With Escape Room popularity’s mysterious explosion on today’s Internet explained, what are some of the essential bits of knowledge an ambitious escapee need know for success?
First of all, you should research Escape Rooms. Escape Rooms differ greatly in the challenges, in the intensity they bring to the table as well as the use of players. Many of these games are not suitable for wheelchair-bound players of people who suffer from some other impaired movement.
But just doing the research can be fun as you make new discoveries. And often some of the titbit’s you pick up during your research can help later on to stay just a bit ahead of some games without spoiling the secrets that await you.
It’s important too, not to be too concerned about losing. Fear can only make you feel bad and lose your focus. Many Escape Rooms offer nearly as much fun in defeat as if success.
And third, you should know that escape rooms simply aren’t for everybody. Part of being human is that we’re all different. Imagine a dull world in which we all thought and acted alike. By the time you’ve read this far, you may have decided that Escape Rooms are not your thing.
Still, until you’ve actually entered an escape room, at least once, you may never know. Many others, who thought they wouldn’t care for Escape Rooms, quickly became hooked after playing only one time. And remember that while one Escape Room may not be to your liking, there are so many others, each unique in one or more aspects.
Since the beginnings of time here on earth, evolutionary change has been operating in the background. It continues today, and in the field of technology, as never before, new ideas, new concepts and new methods have been evolving so rapidly that today, by the time you pick up the very latest Laptop and get home with it, a newer, better model, is already on the market, making you feel you’ve just been some an obsolete model.
Escape Rooms are not merely a new trend but rather a business that will continue to grow and evolve as a part of great entertainment that is affordable and accessible. No one knows what Escape Rooms will look like in a few years. But it is almost certain that they’ll exist in some shape or another.
Long live escape rooms and all who play in them, come and join us…