I’ve decided 2015 is the year I try new things. My speed dating adventures in early March went well for me, so I thought I’d check another activity off of my to-list with a friend: Getting locked in a room for 45-minutes while trying to escape.
My first reaction when my friend and I confirmed these plans was, “I’m going to get murdered!”
My mind instantly went to Saw IV. I thought these new horror-movie-like weekend spots were some type of ploy to get naive people in a dark room and knock them out. Extremely nervous and hesitant, my friend and I decided to book a room with two other friends at Locked-In in Toronto, a game centre where teammates are locked in a themed room for 45-minutes and must solve hidden clues to unlock the door back to real life. The website says Locked-In is safe for kids, so that helped confirm my attendance.
Except, when we arrived to the location in Markham, everything was very dark and the parking lot looked abandoned (sticking to my theory of getting murdered), but once we walked up the terrifying staircase and hallway into the game centre, we entered a brightly coloured room filled with friendly faces. I was finally able to relax and think about how much fun this could be!
Locked-In has a total of four rooms: The Kung Fu Dojo Room (great for beginners), the Classroom, the Poker Room and the Secret Level. After chatting with the creators of Locked-In, I found out that only five to 10 per cent of the Secret Level players have successfully escaped. Needless to say, I will not be trying that level just yet.
My friend booked a spot in the Classroom, Locked-In’s most popular room, as it combines individual and group puzzle solving techniques. After filling out the necessary forms – you know, the ones that tell you about all the risks involved with being in stressful situations – one of the organizers took our cell phones (no Instagram for 45-minutes) and locked them inside a box that would be placed somewhere in our room. Then, we were told this story, framing our scenario:
“You are waiting for class to finish when you get a text from your mom reminding you not to be late for your dad’s birthday tonight. Just as you put down your phone, you notice that the teacher, Mrs. K, is standing right beside you. She grabs your phone, locks it away and sentences you to detention. Will you find your cell phone and escape from detention before it’s too late?”
The organizer explained that once we entered, we had exactly 45-minutes to get out of the room. If needed, we could access one hint through an electronic device hooked up to our timer, which made me think of The Hunger Games. She then emphasized that we were not to touch or move any items that had stickers on them.
Not giving away details (as you should all try this), we had certain questions to answer which would allow us to unlock clues, leading us to our solution. Of course, the items with stickers on them became obstacles, as we couldn’t change their location.
Some questions were challenging and frustrating, others were easier to solve. As the time kept ticking away faster and faster, we started to panic: It took us almost 15-minutes to figure out our last clue! We managed to unlock ourselves without using our hint (yes!) and with an extra five-minutes to spare. We were amongst the 35 to 40 per cent of successful groups to break out.
Besides taking an incredible polaroid picture to document our win, we also scored prizes – like movie themed gloves, posters, t-shirts and tickets to an advanced screening of Insurgent, the second movie in the Divergent trilogy.
Prizes or not, I would recommend everyone try Locked-In and embrace their inner Katniss/Tris. The rooms were designed to reflect good memories we all have, from video games to cartoons. Needless to say, I didn’t have to face any of my fears. Instead, I got out of my house with a few my good friend and did something that wasn’t just dinner and a movie or a night out at the bar.