Cracking The Code: Tempe’s Escape Room Is The Real Deal

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One hour. That’s all the time you and up to eight of your closest friends have to escape a room at The Escape Zone in Downtown Tempe. If you’ve never heard of an escape room, it’s a live-action gaming environment that involves cracking codes, solving clues, unlocking combinations and figuring out riddles to escape a themed room. Your objective is different depending on which room you’re in. Right now, the experiences available are The Inheritance, Jail Break and coming soon—Lunar Lab.

While escape games are common for corporate team building because success depends on communication, they’re meant for anyone to enjoy. From escaping a jail cell to racing the clock to find some hidden cash, experiencing an escape room is no easy task…but it is a thrilling one! We at College Times decided to test them out ourselves. Here’s how it all went down.

JASMINE’S EXPERIENCE: THE INHERITANCE

I decided to brave the Escape Zone with my friend, my boyfriend and his dad. The Escape Zone owners, Mark and Lori, welcomed us and we sat down awaiting the instructions. I don’t like being locked in any kind of room—even voluntarily—so I knew it was going to be an interesting 60 minutes.

Lori and Mark set the scene for our escape room: In “The Inheritance,” your grandparents left you an old farmhouse in the country and—as someone who lives in the city—you decide to sell it. After finding out there is an inheritance waiting for you in the attic, you must race to find it before the new homeowners arrive.

We were told our scenario was the “easier” of the two rooms available, so we opted for that one. They led us to the faux attic and the door was shut behind us—the 60-minute countdown began.

I was really surprised with how real the attic felt. The minute the door shut, we were transported to another world full of dolls, books, an old television and an eerie song playing on a loop.

My team and I tore the room apart. In just over an hour, we solved puzzles, found clues, opened doors, unlocked chests and eventually made our way out of the room. Even though we went 20 minutes over and made plenty of mistakes, it was still a fun experience. I would definitely come back to try out the other rooms.

DAMIR’S EXPERIENCE: JAIL BREAK

I earned some massive brownie points by taking my sister, her boyfriend and a close friend to experience the Escape Room. Jasmine and her group were early birds and picked “The Inheritance,” so my group was tasked with tackling the “harder” of the two scenarios.

Mark and Lori quickly briefed us on the “Jail Break” plot: You and some friends are in Central America seeing the world. As a good citizen of the planet, you naturally pick up trash along the beach. You drop the trash into a dumpster nearby—just before the garbage truck comes along. The next thing you know, you and your amigos are being wrestled to the ground, tied up, blindfolded and thrown into a van. Something you picked up wasn’t garbage after all. You are brought to a private holding cell in a remote location. After two terrifying days behind bars, the clock is ticking and the big boss will be arriving soon. Tomorrow could be the end of your adventure and life—if you don’t find a way out today. The ruthless thug they put in charge of guarding you will be gone to lunch for an hour. It’s now or never.

Once inside, we were divided into two teams, led to separate holding cells and handcuffed immediately. We noticed numerous tidbits of information, lots of numbers and how chilling it felt to be locked up.

After an hour of deciphering codes, picking locks, throwing cloths and moving props—we still needed an additional half hour to escape! We’ll be back to take a crack at it again.

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