On a visit to North America this summer I had an opportunity to try my very first Escape Game. With a couple friends we turned up 15 minutes early, got a quick briefing and were inside the game.
My first experience with this kind of entertainment was filled with frustration and stress for the most part. I wasn’t able to connect the dots, so to speak. This type of activity is unlike something I’ve experienced before. With a combination of using elements in the room, teamwork as well as outside the box thinking, we had to get out. In reality there was 7 or 8 puzzles to complete in the first room. We were however stuck on how to proceed. The trouble is, what to do when you walk into an Egyptian tomb that looks like nothing is out of place?
At least, until you notice what looks to be a blank sheet of paper actually is actually a secret message written in some transparent way, and the only way to read it is to pour sand from the floor onto the paper and remove the excess. That took an entire 15 minutes to figure out. With hidden wall safes, puzzles and pressure pad activated doors coming up; we were never going to make it out on time. I will point out that we went in with the minimum number of people required (4) so if we had a couple more it would have been possible to get out (or so I keep telling myself).
Image by Rita Buettner via Catholic Review
Use a brush to clear the excess sand and read the hidden message underneath.
The first game was so good we requested another game right after and were marginally WORSE in it. Turns out we played on easy for the first game and medium for the second. At the end of it we felt it was well worth it the experience. The beginnings of bringing Escape Games to Tanzania were born.