For those of us who like something a little more out of the ordinary than the usual pubs and clubs of Cardiff, Escape Rooms has arrived, sitting alongside other capital city attractions such as Treetop Golf and Techniquest as a sober but enjoyable experience.
Saman and I attended the opening of this new attraction, which sits in an unassuming suite of rooms above a shop near the Millennium Stadium’s entrance. On the first floor is the first puzzle room, “The Tomb”: a pyramid themed set of puzzles, and the second features the mahogany office of Sherlock Holmes who has mysteriously vanished as well as the third room which appears to be a rich diamond lover’s private museum. In each room, a clock stands by the door counting down the minutes of one hour. The challenge is to figure out the puzzles in the room in order to unlock the door to exit before the time runs out.
Each of the rooms features one large area and one small room to the side, except for the museum room which features two smaller rooms: the office of the staff, where a spreadsheet open on the computer seems to carelessly give away the codes to a number of locks. The other room features, without spoiling it too much, a heavy diamond, a button, and a number of lasers.
Downstairs in the Tomb, sand covers the floor, the lights are off, and everyone carries a torch. A number of hieroglyphics are on one wall, and a few wooden puzzle boxes are placed throughout the room- there’s some very clever carpentry going on here. Solving the puzzles gives you keys which you can use to release the locks on the sarcophagus in the next room, and then you can backtrack to the first room to do the final puzzle which unlocks the door to escape.
Although most of the time, if you are not engaging with the puzzles, it is fairly obvious that you are just in a few rooms above a shop and not really in a pyramid or a museum, the fun of the experience would seem to be in really getting your brain cogs whirring to solve the puzzles. They also told us that they are hoping to get an Oculus Rift room in soon, so people can solve puzzles in a more immersive VR environment.
The proposed “Rift room” may seem very high tech compared to the rest of the attraction, but to say that is to put down the masterful skills that were put into it. Isn’t it nice to do something which doesn’t have much to do with high tech graphics on screens for once? It may seem old fashioned, but for an alternative thing to do with your friends or lovers in Cardiff this may prove to be a good choice. Whilst prices for the Rooms are yet to be finalised, the owners are hoping to develop a number of themed nights- one that was humorously suggested by a visitor was “Naked Wednesday” which would definitely attract some publicity.