In recent years the ‘puzzle room’ or ‘escape room’ concept has been growing in popularity, becoming a worldwide trend. Veering away from the physical adrenaline of previous trends, the escape room is more cerebral than physical.
The concept is simple. A group is locked in a room or a series of chambers, often with a particular theme (castle, bank vault, etc) and have to collectively solve a series of tasks and puzzles to ‘escape’ within the allotted time. Often they have storylines to follow and mysteries to unravel as part of the effort to win the game.
The trend has taken off in Canada as well. And in Niagara, the first to bring the game to town is Adventure Rooms. With two locations, one in Niagara Falls and another in Kitchener, Adventure Rooms is still a new addition to Niagara’s activities – they only celebrated their Niagara Falls site’s first anniversary in January 2016 – but they’re already a local favourite.
The Niagara venue is still growing, and in years to come more rooms are expected to be available. Currently the room on offer is called ‘The Missing Finger’, and soon a second room called ‘The Collector’ will be running concurrently. Both rooms, as well as the three running in Kitchener, are less story-based and more focused on providing a wide variety of puzzles and challenges to test the attendants’ team-building and problem-solving skills.
This doesn’t mean that the rooms are fiendishly complicated or difficult. There’s enough content to keep even a large group occupied (including a program for a 24-person ‘tournament’) and the tasks are balanced to be challenging but enjoyable. Adventure Rooms cites its current success rate as being around 20%.
As a problem-based game that requires no physical exertion, the game is truly suitable for all ages. The mixed challenges of logic, arithmetic and critical thinking means that a variety of skills and mindsets come into play. The marketing mostly emphasises the team-building aspects of solving puzzles together, but it’s also just a fun activity for a group to challenge themselves with for an hour. For any family or group that hasn’t tried a puzzle room yet, it’s a trend worth checking out.
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