Last Sunday evening Ben and I, along with our friends, were trapped in a locked Midtown office. We had an hour to try to escape by finding the key that would unlock the door. But the key wasn’t simply hidden in the room. We had to solve multiple puzzles and clues that would eventually lead us to the locked box that held literally the key to our success.
We were playing Escape the Room, NYC. It’s a real life version of the Japanese online escape games, Takagism. There are several in Asia and in the US. The ones in Asia are quite elaborate and often include elements, such as a trap door. The one in New York is modest, but still well designed and tons of fun to play.
We met with the Cluemaster and his assistant at the front door of a Midtown office building. We were led upstairs to where the locked room was. Escape the Room, NYC is a bit like the Fight Club. 1) You don’t talk about what goes inside the locked room. 2) There are no rules inside the locked room.
Well, there were a couple small rules. Everything inside the room was fair game except behind the line where our stuff was stored and the Cluemaster and his assistant sat. The other rule that we discovered was that the assistant really didn’t like it when we started dismantling everything.
We stood in the middle of a nondescript office. Once the Cluemaster announced, “Go!” We immediately scattered around and started looking for things, anything to help us unlock the various locks. I really wish I could describe and narrate what we did because it was so much fun, but I really don’t want to ruin the fun for other people. But every time someone announced that they solved or found something that got us one step closer, we all cheered.
While we were desperately searching and solving things, it was madness and controlled chaos. People were running to and fro and whirling about like dervishes. Time flew. Before we knew it a half hour had one by. Then suddenly, we only had fifteen minutes left. We were at the last step. We knew we were close, but solving the clue eluded us.
As the Cluemaster solemnly counted down the seconds, we scrambled for a Hail Mary solve. Nope. We did not escape the room. The Cluemaster went over the solutions to the various clues and puzzles. There were often more than one way to solve the clue/puzzle. For one of the clues, we actually solved it in a novel way that he had never seen before. We were quite pleased at that.
Escape the Room, NYC was one of the best games that I’ve ever played. Right now there’s just a single room, but he’s working on developing other rooms with different clues and maybe in the future, moving this to a bigger location where he could do more elaborate stunts, such as having hidden rooms. If you’re in NYC metropolitan area, I enthusiastically recommend playing Escape the Room. It’s quite cheap ($20 if you get one of the first two tickets, otherwise it’s $25, plus a surcharge from EventBrite).
Although Ben and I didn’t manage to escape the room in the Midtown, we did escape NYC for Christmas. We’re housesitting my cousin’s house in Westchester. It’s a lovely home festooned with glorious Christmas decorations. Life has been very good to us this year and I hope you also had a wonderful year.