What is an Escape Room Like?
Put rather plainly: An Escape Room is a themed puzzle adventure in which players attempt to complete a specific task before time runs out.
But that description does an incredible disservice to you, dear reader. It’s drier than a generous and crumbly mouthful of saltines, graham crackers, and sand. Allow me to offer you a tall glass of water.
- An Escape Room is a portal to another world, an immersive experience that sweeps guests away to a far-flung locale or a dark, dungeon.
- An Escape Room is a challenge chamber, meant to test the minds and resolve of its captives.
- An Escape Room is a real, tangible, action-filled form of entertainment unlike any other.
- An Escape Room is a relationship barometer, a marriage counseling service, a daring first date, a floor-wax AND a dessert topping!
- An Escape Room is Legends of the Hidden Temple, Wheel-of-Fortune, Survivor, and a dime-store mystery novel all rolled into one.
- An Escape Room is your best friend, your greatest adversary, your creepy uncle, and your college roommate’s cousin’s dentist.
- An Escape Room is an afternoon, a weekend, and a lifestyle.
What it is Not Like
Working for an escape room means having to dance a little around the question, “What do you do for a living?” because it usually involves a sort of drawn out explanation to those who have no idea. I recently attempted to explain this to my inquisitive 71 year old landlord. Sweetest man in the world, he asks, “So is it like a big…maze?” Not quite. “Is it a haunted house?” or “A place where you play games?” We’re getting warmer here! These are all logical questions to ask, but a little off base. Let’s explore what it’s like to be kidnapped and dragged to The Basement: A Live Escape Room Experience, located right here in California.
[To be read in your best Rod Serling voice] Imagine if you will an unassuming office building, strip mall, or warehouse with a lone door. Upon close inspection, that modest entryway bears a small sign decorated with keys and question marks. Or instead, plastered with Missing Person posters and a note left from a prolific killer. The door is locked. Inside, they are expecting you. This is the first of many locked doors you will find along your journey. Has the game already begun?
Once you have unlocked the mystery of the front door, your host graciously welcomes you to a lobby unfamiliar. This preamble to your adventure largely involves waiver-signing, agreements not to punch actors, and very little insight into what will happen next. Your host smiles, a little too widely, as she ushers you deeper into the building. At The Basement, the black hallway you find yourself in flickers with amber light, illuminating doors your host begged you not to open. She said it was for your safety, that she didn’t know what was behind them. What could that mean? She works here, surely she knows…?
Unease settles heavily into your chest. Suddenly, there’s a banging from behind one of the doors, a scream can be heard from far away. A man is thrown out into the hallway, scrambling on his knees and tripping over himself as he welcomes you. There is blood dripping from his nose. He is wearing an employee uniform, but looks like he’s a captive here, just like you. He offers no comfort when he explains he is in charge of your safety.
Your manic friend opens the door, more darkness and confusion awaits. Your Time has come. But first, a video. Rules and safety precautions are laid out for you, in-case-of-emergency details explained, and lastly, a little taste of the story you are about to be thrown into. Likely you enter the room of your own freewill. If not, a cloaked figure in a white mask will personally escort you by the scruff of the neck. The cannibalistic killer then speaks to you directly: taunting you, teasing you, his voice dripping with hungry anticipation. The clock starts, your game has begun.
You now have forty five minutes to complete your goal. Here at The Basement, you need to face your fears, uncover clues, and solve puzzles to avoid becoming dinner for Edward Tandy and his “Proven Few.” I won’t spoil any of the specifics for you, but we have a great variety of puzzles that are sure to keep you on your toes. Each room is incredibly unique with different challenges all their own. We test you on your creative problem solving, attention to detail, reading comprehension, communication, investigation, and teamwork!
Okay, but What is it Like Tho?
I asked my coworker and fellow escape room junkie Noah Slyvester this question. After a moment of thoughtful pondering he replied thusly:
“Escape rooms are exhilarating, action-packed adventures. You need to rely on the intellect of your friends and the relationship you have with your team. It’s like being transported to a new world for a given amount of time. For that time, you are suddenly in a strange and unfamiliar place. It’s like being an astronaut on a foreign planet. It’s the magic of intense and tangible transformation. For me, the best parts are often the moments that you least expect. And of course the victories, after your first, you begin to crave them.”
It’s a lot like exploring America’s greatest historical secrets with Nicolas Cage, but without all of the real danger and fire. It’s like being in a movie? But better. Oh! I think I’ve got it. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you’d read a book and it felt like you were there? When you could picture it all so clearly? It’s a lot like that. You are actually in the story, you are an active participant. It doesn’t progress without you and you get to call all of the shots. Sure an escape room is puzzles and timers and locks and keys, but it’s also an opportunity to live a real-life adventure somewhere deep in a warehouse in Sylmar.