The nine of us could feel one another’s anxiety as we stared desperately at the final clue. The last combination lock that would surely provide our freedom was mocking us, and the florescent numbers on the timer were reaching dangerously close to the one minute mark. Although we were all aware that this was a game and that we would be let out either way, the stakes felt high and real and none of us wanted to go home without the glory of escaping.
This is the appeal of The Great Escape Room, a real-life room escape game that puts up to 12 people against a series of puzzles, and solving them is the only way to win.
The Minaret took a diverse group of nine people to the new location in downtown Tampa, on the third floor of an office building, around the corner from Taco Bus. We participated in the soft opening and although the waiting room was not fully decorated, it gave off a spooky vibe that heightened our excitement. We all signed waivers that protected The Great Escape Room in case we were hurt, and then we were led into the room.
Poised and eager, we listened to the ladies in charge reading the instructions. We were allowed to touch, move and basically ransack the room looking for clues to solve the four puzzles. The voice of Sherlock Holmes came over a gramophone and gave us a backstory. Once they started the clock, we were off. It was liberating to be allowed and even encouraged to wreck a very neatly organized room. We looked through books, turned over tables and removed drawers from desks. Once we found all the clues, we split into groups to solve the puzzles, which (without giving too much away) involved some math, some geography and a lot of teamwork. There was a worker in the room with us to make sure we did not try to destroy something that wasn’t relevant to the puzzles. She was also there to provide three hints, if we were able to find the three magnifying glasses hidden among the other clues.. We only found two, but those two hints were very much needed. Other than that, she did not try to interfere or help us solve the puzzles. Although from her perspective, it must have been entertaining watching me desperately inspecting a chair in an attempt to find a clue that wasn’t there.
Our large and multi-talented group was the key to our eventual success. We had enough people with different intellectual strengths to solve all four puzzles at once. Not to brag, but the mnemonic device I learned in elementary school about the order of the planets helped us crack one code.
The Great Escape Room advertises the event as one that helps build teamwork among groups or co-workers, and after completing the challenge, I can see why. It made us rely on each other to fill in the knowledge we didn’t know and it felt great to make it out. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Sherlock Holmes, then take a group to The Great Escape Room and see if you can beat our time of one minute and nine seconds. Although be warned: It was anything but elementary, my dear readers.
Mia Glatter can be reached at Mia.Glatter@theminaretonline.com