Many a nerd have wished for their favorite video game to be real.
To have the thrill and adventure of solving puzzles and finding lost treasure, or fighting their way through hordes and hordes of zombies to a safe house.
While the latter is not very feasible in a real-world setting (unless you’re thinking about the abandoned mall in England which has transformed itself into a zombie hunting ground, in which case, how cool is that?), the idea of solving puzzles and finding clues is very much alive and well in escape rooms.
Escape rooms are an interactive experience where you and a team are ‘locked’ in a room for a set amount of time (usually an hour) and need to solve your way out of it. It brings together the logic and timing that most video games present.
There are many different levels and themes to these rooms, so make sure to find one that fits best for you. You can’t have a compelling puzzle and eagerness to win until there is a great backstory and theme that you want to be involved in.
While most Escape Room companies market to a broad audience, there are a few niche rooms that are for those who know exactly what they are looking for. Escape rooms rely on these themes to bring people in who would normally pass up a chance to be locked in a room for an hour.
Southern Maine currently plays host to 3 different escape room companies in the Greater Portland Area. All with their own pros and cons, all with different themes. From family fun for all ages, to more spooky experiences (think the “Saw” series) targeted at older audiences and those seeking thrill.
GTFO in South Portland offers two rooms, Calicfer’s Conjuring and Trapped. Calcifer’s Conjuring is an extremely interactive room, where you are proving your might and worth to the all mighty Calicifer, a magician who is seeking an apprentice. You are able to interact with Calcifer as that is how you receive clues should you need them to progress. GTFO’s other room, Trapped is more on the psychological thriller side, as you have to solve your way out of the room in almost complete darkness. GTFO does a fine job of offering a little something to everyone, either the family with kids or a group of adult friends looking for an adrenaline and scary rush.
Also in South Portland, but closer to the maine mall, resides Maine Escape Games. They offer three different escape experiences. They also using a rating system of difficulty, so when deciding on which room to try you are able to gauge just how much of a challenge you’d like to take on. The beginning level room is aptly titled and themed as ‘The Maine Room’, a lighthouse keeper has mysteriously gone missing and it’s up to you to figure out how to light the harbor and save ships from crashing into the shore. Their second room is a bit more of a challenge compared to the first, ‘The Estate’ has you and your team take on the role of detectives to uncover the robbers of priceless artwork. The highest skill level, and most notorious escape room that Maine Escape Games offers is called ‘Escape Your Fears’ where you are the victims of an insane clown serial killer and you must escape before he returns to the basement where you are trapped! Much like GTFO, both of these companies offer a range of non-spook to spook.
Located in the heart of Portland, The Escape Room has 2 wholesome offerings with a hint of danger and mystery. ‘The Pharaoh’s Tomb’ and ‘Shipwrecked’ are two challenging rooms that puts you at the helm of an excavation of a cursed tomb and the quarters of Captain Kidd’s Ship. ‘The Tomb’ offers a large room to explore with your team as you complete research from a missing group of scholars, much to accomplish in an hour. ‘Shipwreck’ is more linear in it’s puzzle and room progression, you and your crew have thrown Captain Kidd overboard in a mutinous undertaking for his gold, but alas, the ship was booby-trapped and now you have 60 minutes to escape before drowning in Portland Harbor. Both rooms mark themselves as great, with an eye for detail with their theming and clues as well as introduction to each room from the clue masters. (Of which I am one, so I might be a little bias here.)
If you find yourself bored with your board game night, or wanting a little excitement from a Monday evening- definitely pay someone to lock you in a room for an hour.
It’s a fun time.