Solve the Puzzle and Escape

July 25, 2015
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Escape room adventure games in Winnipeg, Manitoba

You and your group have 60 minutes to find clues, solve puzzles, and crack codes to escape. Do you have what it takes? This intriguing challenge is on the home page of Codebreakers Escape Rooms website. As soon as I heard of the premise for this business, opened in spring by a relative of a relative, I knew I wanted to play.

There are several games to choose from, of differing complexity levels. The games require a minimum of two players to a maximum of six or eight players, depending on the game. An option exists for larger groups to divide into two teams and compete against each other in a duel version of the game.

My husband and I and five friends sign up to play Grandma’s Attic, a Level 2 game. We are scheduled to play at five in the afternoon, after which we plan to return to our house for dinner. Even though the seven of us have been friends for thirty years and know each other well, I wonder how the team-work part of the game will pan out. Might there be a possibility we aren’t speaking to each other after the game?

Trick lock

We tried to figure out how to open this trick lock while we waiting for the rest of our group to arrive.

The clerk at the front desk introduces us to the game. Grandma’s house is slated for demolition. Grandma claims to have hidden cash and jewels in the attic but cannot remember where. The wreckers have allowed us into the house for one last look. We have one hour before the wrecking ball strikes.

The clerk tells us to leave shoes, purses and cell phones behind. She also lets us know the room isn’t really locked, in case that makes any of us uneasy. We can go out the door we entered by at any time. She hands us one of Codebreakers’ cell phones with a timer on it counting down our remaining minutes. We can also use the phone to text her for hints if we’re really stuck.

Grandma’s Attic is actually two rooms with a locked door between the rooms. We need to find the key to get to the second room and the clues there. We enter the first room. It is filled with items one might typically find in an attic. Some items are marked with stickers to identify they are not part of the game. This is so we don’t take apart the air conditioner or mark walls taking down pictures with no purpose other than decoration. Anything else may or may not be a clue. There are storage boxes, an old sewing machine and various vases and knick-knacks. There are locked items, including a full-size locker, for which we need to find keys or determine the numbers or letters for the combination locks.

We spread out and start examining everything. We tell each other what we find. We discover items we’re sure must be clues but cannot yet decipher what the clue means. We look for secret hiding spots. We cheer triumphantly when a number or letter combination opens a lock. Sometimes all we find inside is another locked box.

I am amazed at the twist a friend’s mind makes to figure out a clue. I would not have thought of it in that way. Then I decode a different clue. Teamwork makes a difference. We find the key for the door and make it into the second room. Our puzzle-solving ability seems to slow down. As we watch the timer count down to our last few minutes, we begin to panic.

I want to say we escape with time to spare, but that is not the case. Time runs out. The clerk gives us a hint and a few additional minutes. Her hint helps us get to the very last puzzle, but we struggle with it. Ten minutes later, she returns saying we have no additional time. She needs to prepare the room for the next group. We groan when we learn the answer to the last puzzle. We leave the room, still talking to each other, and unanimously agree we had a great time.

A Level 3 game is scheduled to open next month. A Level 4 game will follow. Once all four levels are operational, the items and puzzles in each game will be changed on a regular basis. When that happens, I think we need to go back and try again.

I will not give away any clues to the game, but I offer a couple of general tips that apply to all games:

– Talk, talk, talk. Share everything you see, everything you wonder about (why is that there?), everything you are looking for. A teammate may have another piece of the puzzle or develop an idea based on what you say.

– Although not everything in the room is relevant to solving the puzzle and there are some red herrings, most items are there for a purpose. Don’t dismiss something as a random item too quickly. Think about how it might be a clue.

Codebreakers Escape Rooms

Codebreaker Escape Rooms are located in the Osborne Village area of Winnipeg. Games are $25 a person if there are four or fewer players, $20 a person when there are more than four players. Kids games are $15 a person. Game times can be booked online.

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  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    We had so much fun playing this fame!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      July 26, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      It was a lot of fun, Teri.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2015 at 7:28 am

    What a great activity to play with friends! Looks like a blast!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      July 26, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      Jacquie, it was a blast. Lots of fun.

  • Reply
    Anita and Richard @ No Particular Place To Go
    July 26, 2015 at 7:47 am

    We love mysteries and Codebreakers Escape Rooms is exactly the kind of activity we’d love to try with some friends. I think trying to solve the puzzle as part of a team would be a lot fun. Yet another good reason to visit Winnipeg! Anita

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      July 26, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Anita, the group of friends I went with love mysteries and puzzles so this was great fun for us. I imagine there are similar concept games in other cities – there are still lots of other reasons to visit Winnipeg.

  • Reply
    Jeri Walker #Editor (@JeriWB)
    August 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    It would be fun to give a clue game like this a try, but I’m not sure if there is anything like that in Boise. It does remind me of the episode of The Big Bank Theory where the gang had tickets for this type of game. They were all so smart, they solved it in five minutes. I wonder how well I would do? I guess it makes a huge difference who you have on your team 🙂

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper/
    August 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    This is such a great idea. With all the history, there would be lots of opportunities to do something like this in around where I live. 🙂

    BTW: I stopped getting your feed for some reason… sigh.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      August 4, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Susan – it sure was a lot of fun. I moved my blog in March and unfortunately couldn’t move subscribers, so you may have to resubscribe.

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