Escape quests. Part puzzle, part team building, part real-life video game, and heaps of enjoyment. From the very first room we ever completed (in Prague back in October 2014) Rex and I have been hooked. Especially since we've discovered how well Ukrainians do escape rooms.
What are escape quests? No, they're not scary. That is, as long as they don't have live actors, which we've learned that on occasion they do (ask ahead of this might be an issue). The near global theme is that you are "locked" in a room with a theme and a mission. In almost every case the mission involves solving a crime, saving an important document or masterpiece, or finding out how to escape the room before something drastic based on the room theme takes place. For instance, in a recent room that we did by Vzaperti called "Victorian Detective," the goal was to solve the crime, recover a special coin, and then either send it to the police or to help the criminal (our choice). But we had to figure it all out in 60 minutes. Or another room by the same company called "Maya: End of the Era" in which we were tasked with literally saving the world from the apocalypse in only 60 minutes. On occasion we're actually meant to be the bad guy. In the room "Not a Thief" by Pod Zamkom in Kyiv, we were playing the part of robbers trying to break into the bank safe and make off with the gold bars before time was up or the police came to get us.
Regardless of the theme, it's a chance to get away for an hour of the day and do something different. You get to solve puzzles, work together with your friends, and enjoy the immense creativity put into designing the room. There's rarely been a room that I did not enjoy at least in part.
Eastern Europe is known for its escape room scene. Budapest is one of the supposed origins of the escape quest, and entrepreneurs in Kyiv have delved into the challenge of creating new rooms with exciting themes and creative and different puzzles. The escape room evolution has gone from earlier rooms with mostly padlocks and black light puzzles, to incredibly creative puzzles in the "next generation" rooms where most mechanisms are magnetised and often you see almost no padlocks at all. I've found that Ukrainians in general are extremely creative and artistically talented people. This spills over into their escape rooms as the puzzles and decor are seriously some of the best that we've seen anywhere. And trust me, we've seen a lot of these rooms. In Kyiv alone we've completed 32 rooms by 9 different companies. Elsewhere in the world we've completed an additional 12 rooms. This weekend, we head off to Budapest to knock out another 9 rooms, strategically planned after analysing several blogs by likeminded folks who love the game. 9 rooms in about a day and a half. Yes, it took some plotting. There will (hopefully) be a separate post on our thoughts from the weekend.
Clockwise from top left: KadRoom's Indiana Jones, Pod Zamkom's Double Game (teams challenge one another), Vzaperti's Matrix, and Vzaperti's Victorian Detective
I might as well lay out our highlights from our escape questing in Kyiv, Ukraine. We wish we'd have recorded in more detail throughout the years exactly what we loved about these rooms, but alas, we rated them only on two factors: Fun and difficulty from 1-5 stars for each.
Thanks to all our friends who have made these rooms so much fun and successful and feel free to link here to our Budapest adventures!