Based on video games, the concept of real-life escape rooms was born in Asia and has since spread worldwide, more recently introduced to Malta.
This fairly-new gaming trend is basically a physical adventure game where players are (voluntarily) locked in a room of their choice and made to work together to solve a chain of puzzles in order to escape in the given time frame; one hour.
We tried out Scavenger Escape Malta in Sliema – part of the Scavenger Escape Franchise – so that we could give you the low-down on what to expect. This place offers a seriously immersive experience – there’s a choice of three themed rooms all constructed by teams of interior designers, architects, costume designers, mechanics and programmers. So, it’s easy to wonder why you’re trying to escape at all.
Nevertheless, we did escape, so if you’re thinking of embarking on the Escape Room experience, here’s what to expect:
1. You’ll start out confident, but it won’t last
You pick a group of individuals with strong personalities, somewhat lacking in effective communication skills. Being hard-headed and reminding yourselves that Malta beat the Turks during the Great Seige – thus making everything possible – you opt for ‘Secret Surgery’- the hardest of the three rooms at Scavenger Escape Malta, where you find yourselves in the first room; an insane professor’s office. Sounds like uni all over again.
You are told that you’ve got 60 minutes to escape and then you’re shut in the room. Your eyes scan and adjust to your new surroundings. There’s stuff hanging on the wall, objects strewn everywhere. A frenzy sets in as you start ransacking the room, looking for clues that will get you one step closer to escaping.
2. The team will naturally divide, personality will emerge
It is just a matter of seconds until the role of each player emerges. There will be a leader among you. The rest are finders and solvers.
Finders will dig through the whole room and gather all the items, frantically scouring through patient files, shouting out numbers, shuffling around like headless chickens and generally just getting in each other’s way. The solvers will emerge as the more logical individuals, each trying to encrypt the gathered information and find a connection between one clue and another.
‘Għala m’għidtlix li jismu John Doe mhux John Dough?!’
3. You’ll overanalyse the clues
Like in any detective-themed story, you’ll come across several red herrings. You will overanalyse and overcomplicate each clue, especially if you are unfamiliar with escape games.
4. You’ll think you’re losing your mind
It’s the Eurovision point-giving part all over again…
The excitement becomes so overwhelming at times, and you may become so invested in the game, that under the pressure of the deadline, that there comes a point where it gets a little too chaotic.
5. And you’ll possibly leave with less friends than you entered with
Team members will be doing their own thing, shouting out all sorts of things – and if they are Maltese, not listening. A voice somewhere announces that you’ve got ten minutes left. Now you really panic- cue: Cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone released in the brain in response to stress and fear. The less time left, the higher the cortisol, making puzzle-solving that more challenging. You’ll find it hard to remind yourselves that it is just a game and you’ll later be having that Nutella pastizz regardless of whether you escape in time or not.
‘Kemm tiflaħ tkun ġidra Stacey! Ma tafx li ċavetta fil-lock tidħol?!’
Nothing a few group therapy sessions can’t solve once the hour is up.
Get me back in there.
Check out Scavenger Escape Malta’s website for more information.