By Shelbi LeMeilleur
Arriving home one evening, my family and I rush to our father’s study to tell him about our latest adventure only to discover he is missing, a cryptic note waiting on his desk. The door slams behind us, locking us in and a timer on the wall starts counting down; we have one hour to escape. For 45 minutes, we work together solving puzzles, searching for clues, and trying to find a way out of the room. We frantically search for the missing piece of the puzzle and manage to escape with four minutes to spare. It was a close call.
We can’t wait to do it again.
This may sound like a scene from a suspenseful thriller movie or nail-biting mystery novel, but it’s not. Some of the INSITE staff were invited to check out College Station’s latest craze. Welcome to Padlock Escape Games.
Jillian and Brandon Blamer opened Padlock Escape Games in January. They got the idea to open their own escape games facility after visiting some friends in Tennessee and going to one there. They quickly realized the concept would fit in well in Bryan/College Station.
“We have a lot of people who would be interested in [escape games] – with Texas A&M, Blinn, and even young professionals and businesses bringing people in for team building exercises,” Jillian explains.
There are currently three different escape rooms, each with the same goal, but with a different story. The newest room is a murder mystery masquerade. “People are going to be trying to find out who murdered this person at this masquerade in order to win an inheritance,” Jillian says. “There’s going to be a bit of a dual focus for that room.”
In addition to the Murder Mystery Masquerade and Secret Study (the room INSITE participated in), Padlock Escape Games offers the chance to conquer the Kidnapped! room. In this room, you’ve been kidnapped from the mall parking lot after a long day of shopping. You wake up handcuffed in a dark abandoned warehouse with one hour to escape before the kidnappers come back for you. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to be handcuffed, you can still participate without manacles – the handcuffs just add another challenge to the mix.
Around 35 to 40 percent of the groups manage to escape their rooms, according to the Blamers. The owners and employees monitor the rooms through video cameras and can provide clues to the groups if requested. Both Jillian and Brandon agree that their favorite part of the games is watching how people interact together in the rooms.
“You really see people’s strengths and how they interact with each other,” Jillian says. “Even though it’s the same puzzles that they’re doing in the same rooms, people don’t react or work together the same way.”
So what is the secret to escaping the rooms? Jillian and Brandon’s advice is to communicate with one another, take advantages of hints, and think outside of the box.
“Communication is very important,” Jillian says. “We’ve had people before where they got a hint and then they hid it from the rest of the group and I didn’t really understand why…Communication is much better. Always be really observant of everything. If you see anything that you think might be something, take a note on it, write it down, tell your group mates. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.”
The games are designed to be fun for anyone. “We see a lot of people come through,” Brandon explains. “College students, young adults, birthday parties, families.” They can even adjust the difficulty of the rooms for the younger patrons.
Tickets are $18 and can be booked online at www.padlockescapegames.com. The games work best with four to nine people, although it is possible to solve them with less. You can leave the room at any time if uncomfortable, but will not be allowed to return to your group after. Groups who escape will be able to purchase an exclusive t-shirt as well.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends, teammates, coworkers, or family members and try to escape! Your challenge is to beat INSITE’s time of 55 minutes and 56 seconds. Good luck!
For more information about Padlock Escape Games, visit www.padlockescapegames.com.