Part 2: Electric Bugaloo
Back in July the Portland Old Port crew was invited to be among the first visitors to the newly opened The Escape Room. In case you missed our first article, the premise is simple – up to 10 people are locked in a room and must work as a team to crack codes and solve puzzles in order to unlock the door and “escape” within the allotted 60 minutes. In our first go-round we came close…but failed. Just one unsolved clue stood between us and victory.
When The Escape Room opened they had one room, The Hunting Lodge, and one mystery – you are locked in a hunting lodge and needed to solve the clues and escape before the hunter returns. A few months later, they added a second room with a Stephen Kind theme and all-new puzzles. We were recently invited back to preview the newest room, The Bunker, which takes the place of the original Hunting Lodge room.
The story behind The Bunker is this: following an international nuclear war that destroyed most of the earth’s surfaces, survivors have holed up in underground bunkers built in the 1980s. Once inside The Bunker, your group of teammates/survivors discovers that there is actually a network of other bunkers – hopefully with more survivors. You have 60 minutes to locate all of the other bunkers to find the other survivors and ensure the continuation of the human race. So, needless to say, the stakes are pretty high!
Our first time at The Escape Room we were a team of 10, 8 folks from Portland Old Port, plus a couple who had also signed up for opening night. We ran around tearing up the room, but came up short at the end. Determined to prove our mettle, we carefully strategized our team for our second attempt. This time we expanded our crew to include a few of the Portland Old Port staff’s significant others with a penchant for puzzles. Hey, at this point we were in it to win it! At the appointed hour we arrived, were given our instructions, and locked in.
Since on our second attempt we already had some familiarity with the basic premise of The Escape Room, we were a little more strategic about how to approach the puzzles. While the scenario and the clues themselves were different, we at least had a rough idea of what to expect, although it was still by no means an easy task.
In the beginning, each person scurried to a separate part of the room to scavenge for clues. Once we had gathered a few, we broke into smaller teams to solve them. Despite rarely coming together collectively as a group, everyone’s contributions began to pay off as clues were found and solved, mysteries revealed, and locks opened. About two thirds of the way through our time we had unlocked all of the locks standing between us and escape…except one. We racked our collective brains for a few minutes before admitting we were stumped. At this point we decided to make use of one of our three “lifelines.” When you enter The Bunker, you are given a small walkie talkie by the staff. That way if you get stuck on a particular clue, or where to search next, you can request a small hint to get you back on track.
Somewhat reluctantly we asked for some guidance, received our clue, quickly solved the final puzzle, removed the lock and walked out the door with almost 20 minutes left to spare and mixed feelings. Should we have kept trying since we had so much time? Honestly, we might not have solved it without a nudge in the right direction, but I guess we’ll never know. We still had a fun time and THIS time got to leave with a sense of accomplishment.
Want to try The Escape Room yourself? Tickets are only $20 per person, and The Escape Room books groups of up to 10 people at a time. If you don’t have a full group, you may be matched up with others who signed up for the same time slot.
The Escape Room, 496 Congress Street, Suite 2A, Portland. 207-619-3775, www.escaperoomme.com.