I’ve never been to an escape room before. I know it’s a popular activity and it looks really fun but I’ve just never been. I love solving puzzles and I love thinking on my feet so it seems that it would be an activity I would enjoy. That’s why when I got invited to try out a new escape room in London, ON with the Western student council, I readily accepted. Plus, I thought it would be a good bonding activity and a way to meet new people.

Escapology, located on Oxford and Adelaide, was a perfect introduction to the world of escape rooms. Walking into the building, the foyer is filled with metallic lounge chairs and tables with mini puzzle games. There’s no instructions so the games were a bit difficult to figure out but that just may be because of my lack of knowledge on brain teasers.

As soon as you walk in, the staff is welcoming and inviting. They are enthusiastic and so knowledgable. They can literally answer any question you have and are very thorough about giving you detailed information about the different rooms and the facility in general. They truly add positively to the experience.

For those of you who don’t know, Escapology allows you three clues within your 60 minute time frame. The door is always unlocked for emergencies but the point of the game is to find a code that ‘unlocks’ the door. This is done by solving a series of riddles, puzzles, and tests so that you can unlock something and move onto the next clue. Once your time begins, you have to explore the room for the first clue. Things are clearly labelled to indicate whether or not they are a part of the game.

When we went, there were four open rooms with a fifth still in process. One of the staff members told us that they brought in set designers to help with the set up of these rooms. I only went into two and got a sneak preview of the fifth, but you could really tell a lot of time and effort was made to make these rooms an experience, to really tell a story.

The one room that three of us went into was called ‘Antidote’. I will not tell you any clues, you’ll just have to go to figure them out for yourself. Anyways, ‘Antidote’ tells the story of Dr. Walter Brandt who is a high ranking scientist within the USA government. He has turned rogue so you are sent to investigate his labratory. One of your team members bumps into a shelf and releases the contagious virus into the room. The facility will lock down in 60 minutes and begin decontamination (killing all biological organisms). You must find the antidote.

‘Antidote’ is meant to be an easier room. We still lost, but it’s fine. Our game master was super helpful and kind when it came to pointing us in the right direction, whether we asked for a clue or not. When our time was up, we were told the last few steps to finding the antidote. We were SO close. Also, funnily enough, it turns out we had the code to unlock the door the whole time.

We then paired up with another team and tried the ‘Budapest Express’. One strategy I would recommend, if it takes you awhile to find the first clue, is to use one of the clues you can get from the game master. This helps get things going so you don’t waste time trying to look for the first clue.

The ‘Budapest Express’ is kind of like Clue. There’s a murder on the train, which arrives at the next station in one hour. You are a high ranking French detective and are asked to solve the case before the killer can escape. The killer has also targeted you. There are multiple suspects each with different motives and murder weapons. All the clues help you piece together the murder.

We won this game which made me really happy. I think having a group bigger than three helps because then you have more ways of thinking outside of the box to solve the clues. However, too many people means too many cooks in the kitchen. There can be multiple clues people are investigating and the linear process can get muddled.

I’m really excited to eventually try the other three rooms in Escapology. In ‘Th3 Cod3’, you get to act as an FBI agent. In ‘Under Pressure’ you are a crew member onboard a US Navy submarine. Finally, in ‘Mansion Murder’ you are the heir to a fortune and your grandfather has just been murdered. This is meant to be the hardest room.

Escapology really puts a lot of time and effort into these stories. There’s dates, times, specific places and names. It’s all really thought out to make for a great experience. I really enjoyed being immersed for an hour within these stories and it made for a great time and really good bonding. It also feels AMAZING when you win.

Another cool thing about Escapology is that they will soon be licensed and will serve drinks specific to each room’s theme which is uber cool. ALSO, the Palasad location there is getting totally revamped and renovated. There will be arcade games, bowling, food, drinks, a stage and it will cater towards a higher age group as an alternative to a night out at a club or bar. Hopefully, I’ll see you there when it’s all finished but for now I would highly recommend going to Escapology.

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