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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

Room escape: the phenomenon for puzzle lovers and mystery enthusiasts

By Lisa Nault
Staff Writer

The clock is ticking, people are searching for answers, the last pieces of the puzzle begin to connect, and then an escape is made — welcome to the phenomenon of room escapes.

Room escapes are places where a group of people can go to have a fun adventure while being challenged intellectually. They must use their deductive abilities as well as being able to cooperate with others in order to answer a variety of brain teasers, find hidden keys, and in the end escape from a locked room—all within a set time limit.

Trapped in a Room With a Zombie promotional art
In Somerville, MA, a group of people can solve a series of puzzles in a room while avoiding a zombie (actor) that is trying to distract and catch them. (Photo from

For starters, yes, you are locked in a room, but there is a key by the door so if someone wants to they can leave at anytime. The entertainment of escaping the room though is the enigma of getting out of a room that is locked. There is a sense of pride when solving each puzzle and getting one step closer to the finish line.

There are operators outside of the room who monitor what is going on inside of it so if some people get stuck on a problem they can enter the room and give hints. Room escapes have a time limit of one hour so the operators typically give three hints in total. They are also there to help in case of an emergency, so the experience is completely safe.

The room escape game is ideal for anyone who enjoys riddles, puzzles, or adventures. However, nobody needs to have any special knowledge in order to solve the problems, just a creative and open mind.

Room escapes also have a unique ability to incorporate ideas from detective novels and mystery themed video games. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle as well as Agatha Christie’s “whodunnit” tales can clearly be seen as inspiration for some of the puzzles in room escapes.

In fact, some of these places have scenarios for why you are locked in a room which relate directly to characters such as Holmes. For example, one scenario centered around Holmes looking for new assistants, and the puzzles in the room were his way of testing if we were qualified to work with him.

Winning at Escape the Room
Sometimes people finish in time and have bragging rights over their friends. (Photo from

Room escapes also capture the analytical reasoning skills that are used in video games. The idea of solving problems in order to move forward in game play has been a popular theme in numerous video games including the “Professor Layton” series, the “Ace Attorney” series, and “999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.”

The puzzles in escape the room adventures are similar to those in video games, like being able to decode messages or notice little details that help solve the problems.

Places that host this real life adventure have been around since 2006. Now, in 2015, they have become popular tourist attractions all around the world. Room escapes are located in Japan, Taiwan, China, London, Canada, Australia, and across the United States.

In fact, there are several locations in the New England area alone, including South Portland ME, Manchester NH, New Haven CT, and even right here in Boston.

There is one room escape located in Boston right nearby Boston Common on West Street. If someone wants to mix it up and go somewhere they have not been before with their friends or family then this is a wonderful opportunity for them.

The game is designed as a fun team building exercise— people must work together and cooperate in order to be victorious. More information on the room escape near Park Street can be found at

As a matter of fact, these rooms have become so popular that there are spin-off versions of them with extra twists. For example, there is a recent one called “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.” It is an interactive puzzle room experience which has an actor in the room with you. The actor of course is a zombie chained to the wall and they are trying to “get you” — but there is a catch.

In addition to solving the puzzles in the room and staying out of reach of the zombie, a noise will ring out every five minutes. At that point the chain on the zombie will grow longer and it will be able to move farther around the room. There is a “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie” location near Boston, in Somerville, which has additional information online at

Whether someone chooses the traditional locked room adventure or the zombie addition they are not going to be disappointed. Not everyone is successful, but that is not the point.

Losing at Escape the Room...but still having fun
Sometimes the clock runs out and people do not escape the room, but they still have fun. (Photo from

Whether someone finishes in time or not, they get to bond with family or friends while unraveling mysteries around them. The hour goes by fast because time flies by when you are having fun.

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