You're standing in a dark room, a wall of laser lights barricading your way to the door on the other side. You're standing on the deck of a pirate ship, surrounded by treasure maps and skeletons. You're standing in a prison cell, and there's an eerie chill in the air as you fumble for the keys to your handcuffs.
All these scenarios are completely different from one another, but they do have one thing in common: You have 45 minutes to escape.
Escape Room is one of the latest entertainment phenomenons sweeping the Klang Valley. There are already a collection of similar experiences popping up like mushrooms around town, but Escape Room was definitely one of the first, opening its doors to the public in July 2013. Located on the 2nd floor of e@Curve, Mutiara Damansara, the beauty of the game is how interactive it is, allowing you to live out the plotlines attached to each unique room.
This is definitely a great group activity - a maximum of eight people are allowed to enter any one room at a time. The clues and puzzles scattered throughout the room are easier to solve if you're in sync with the rest of your teammates and know how to work together. The game begins with your team being led into your chosen room, where one of the staff will explain the rules of the game. Anything in the room could be a clue - from a chilling message scrawled across the wall to hidden wall spaces, though they are quite clear that there are no clues to be found on the ceiling.
Some rooms are more challenging than others. According to the ratings available on their website, the easiest two rooms are The Abandoned Factory and The Mummy - Tomb of the Ancient Pharaoh. Meanwhile, the most challenging games are Pirate Ship - Curse of the Adventure Galley and The Slaughter House. My friends and I have tried out a total of four rooms so far, and we're already looking forward to our next one.
The clues can be quite tricky sometimes, so there's a lifeline available: If you're stuck, simply push a button located by the side of the door and a guide will come by and walk you through one of the clues. You can use up two hints this way. After that, you're on your own until the timer runs out.
Regardless of whether you win or lose, there will be a photo-taking session at the end of the game. There is even a large collection of props to use to: toy guns, pirate hats, plastic swords, quirky signages ... there's something funky for everyone.
But of course, there's nothing like standing proudly in front of the Escape Room backdrop with the Winner's sign. There is also a scoreboard updated on a weekly basis with a ranking of the fastest times a room was completed. Some first place winners even manage to complete their rooms in 20 minutes!
The games are almost always fully booked on weekends.
The walls in the reception area make it clear of just how many customers they've had. Sometimes, I try to pick out the photos of myself taken during previous visits, but the sheer mass of them make it almost impossible. While I do enjoy an afternoon with friends in an escape room, it isn't the cheapest of group activities. Each person has to fork out RM36 for the experience, though it is slightly cheaper on the weekdays. It's quite expensive, especially if you're a student and not earning your own pay yet. But if you're willing to give it a go, the fun of the game does give you a great thrill.