Watching a gang of violent outlaws ride in on their horses from the dusty desert to face off against the town marshals, leaving three dead in a cloud of gun smoke is enough to prompt clammy palms and a fast-beating heart. Now imagine you are one of those marshals who has to scour a nearby saloon for clues to discover who the surviving outlaws are before they make their way to Mexico. And the clock is ticking.
This is the Arizona Shootout escape room at Escapology—a live-action game experience where you and your team must solve puzzle after puzzle in order to get out of a locked room within one hour.
Escapology, headquartered in Orlando, is celebrating the official grand opening of their Las Vegas location just south of Sahara Avenue on Maryland Parkway in February. There are currently six different themed rooms. You’re a hostage on a Chinese ship in Shanghaied (one of the most difficult challenges), you have to find the cure for a powerful virus in Antidote (the most family friendly), solve a murder on a 1930s train in Budapest Express (the most elaborate set with tougher puzzles) and stop a hacker in Th3 C0d3 (the most tech-involved room).
Each of the games were developed by a team in Orlando, who are currently testing a new submarine challenge, according to marketing coordinator Chris Buxton. There are four more spaces available for new games at the Las Vegas location.
How it works is escapees can book online or walk-in. All rooms are private, although smaller groups can combine if they choose to do so. Once inside, a video message describes the scenario and the task at hand.
In Cuban Crisis, I was a CIA operative sent on a mission to break into Fidel Castro’s palace and discover who shot down a U.S. spy plane. Once the hour countdown begins, the game starts, which means opening drawers, looking under tables and absorbing the environment for anything that may be a clue. There is a white board in each room to write down any useful information or potential math equations to solve a four digit code to open doors that lead to new rooms within the game. It is uncertain how many separate rooms exist within one challenge. There is a control room monitored by a Game Master to help out stumped players. Pre-set hints appear for typical snags, but participants can ask for up to three clues with a time penalty if they get stuck. As time dwindles, the music gets more intense and armpits get sweatier. A final puzzle gets you out of the game. And don’t worry about being trapped in secret KGB headquarters or a chemistry lab with a deadly virus for too long. Once 60 minutes is up, the doors open—but you lose the game.
Buxton says that escape rooms are great for corporate team building as a way to discover leaders, team-players and problem solvers. Rooms may be booked for private events and Buxton says they are currently locking down contracts with catering and beverage companies for private parties who want to enjoy food and drinks in the large steam punk-themed lobby before their challenge.
Buxton says the best mix of people he’s seen work together is two adults and two kids. “Kids think outside the box,” he says, adding that it’s difficult to predict who will breakout fastest. “We once had a nuclear physicist couldn’t escape the first room.”
Escapology is open Mon.- Sun. from 4:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets $30 per person Mon.- Thurs., $35 Fri.-Sun.