From having idolized characters like MacGyver, Sherlock Holmes and Velma Dinkley in our youth, it’s not surprising we all enjoy imagining ourselves as equally cunning, resourceful, clue-spotting mystery solvers. It is exactly for this reason that the sudden and widespread emergence of so-called ‘escape rooms’ around the world has been so successful.
If you haven’t yet tried an escape room, you will have at least heard of the underlying concept and the suspenseful fun it brings partakers. A theme is central to the experience – it helps set an immersive atmosphere and appeal to specific interests. The escape is all the more thrilling, after all, if one is transported to a particular time era or an exotic land. Here are some of the most popular escape room themes – and the locations that have pulled them off.
Bank Heist, London
London is full of escape rooms, and the bank robbery theme is one of the most popular amongst regular goers (the casino heist being a common variant). In London’s ‘Escape This Room’ take on the bank heist theme, the whole setting is totally immersive from the moment you enter. You will be greeted in character and briefed as part of the game. The goal? Get in and out with the cash before the cops come knocking. The venue is very natural without clues sticking out or looking too obvious – although critics say that the sense of immersion is broken in that one cannot move objects from one part of the room into another. If you want to fancy yourself the next Danny Ocean, then this bank heist escape room is the perfect cinematic experience.
Event Horizon, Salt Lake City
For sci-fi fans, this space adventure escape room is sure to satisfy. Loosely based on the 90s horror film of the same name, Event Horizon centres on the idea that all crewmembers on a space vessel have gone missing – and it is your task to figure out what terrible thing may have happened, while ensuring the spaceship does not drift into a white star and implode. Your end goal, besides solving the mystery and saving the ship, is to bring the vessels’s precious cargo safely to Starbase 3. Facing this challenge will require bravery, confidence and quick thinking.
Egyptian Adventure, Malta
This one’s for the Indiana Jones fans. The Egyptian-themed escape room will transport you to the beginning of the Second World War in Egypt. As a British troop, it is your duty to intercept secret messages from the enemy. Supposedly, there lays a hidden box filled with encrypted messages somewhere in Cairo. Each evening, the spies guarding the box exchange information – leaving a window of time in which to find the secret messages. This escape room is very puzzle-heavy, making it amongst one of the more difficult on the list. In fact, not even a bunch of world league poker players manage to escape this particular room in time…
Alice in Wonderland, Salt Lake City
From the same escape artists who bring you the Event Horizon puzzle room is an Alice in Wonderland-themed adventure. This colourful adventure room requires you to save Alice, who is being held hostage by the blood-thirsty Queen of Hearts, before it’s too late. The Queen kidnapped Alice under the impression that Alice had stolen her Royal Scepter. By finding the true location of the Royal Scepter, you might just convince the Queen to let her go…but finding this opulent ornament is easier said than done!
Crystal Maze, London
The cult classic mystery escape game known as ‘Crystal Maze’ has become one of the most iconic staples of 90s TV. Hosted by Richard O’Brien, members of two opposing teams were presented with daunting tasks and physical challenges throughout the futuristic maze’s many rooms. Now, in London and Manchester, fans can experience the Crystal Maze for themselves in the form of an enormous multi-room escape challenge. The concept has proven extremely successful, with both locations typically booked for several months in advance. The Crystal Maze can welcome several players in team-based challenges at once, making it the perfect escape room experience for larger groups. Helping to fuel the hype, the introduction of this escape room coincides with the comeback of the Crystal Maze TV game.
Held on death row, you’re naturally eager to escape this terrifying prison. This place was thought to be escape-proof, but your contacts on the outside have placed a number of clues to help you escape. Overcome obstacles like laser security trip wires and serial killer inmates as you solve the puzzles that will lead to you to freedom. The prison theme escape room in Utah is highly immersive and impressively well designed.
The Basement, Los Angeles
Horror junkies rejoice – this might just be scariest escape room out there. Do not partake if you are faint-hearted, as there will be more than a few jump scares lurking in this dimly lit and blood-stained basement, where you must find a way out as quickly as possible in order to save yourself. Voted as one of the best escape rooms in America, The Basement is also amongst one of the more challenging ones.
The sudden escape room hype may seem to have come out of nowhere – but riddle masters, puzzle lovers and mystery solvers aren’t complaining. For all those who love taking on immersive challenges with friends, let’s hope the escape room trend continues!