As I walked into ‘Can you Escape? Escape Room Malta’s’ headquarters in Fgura, this was one of the first things I came across – an image of the word ‘Cortisol’ framed on the wall. Being an athlete I immediately made the connection with feelings of stress and tension and decided that they must be trying to over dramatize things, after all it’s only a room, how hard can it be to solve riddles? I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Let’s take a few steps back here as you are probably wondering how we even got here in the first place. Here at Malta University Sports & Leisure, we are a very small team and so whenever we have events such as the University Ring Road Races or Quiz nights, our work days become a mad dash to get things done in time for the actual activity. After a hectic build up and and even busier event day, I always tend to suffer from Post Event Blues. Several Mondays ago in fact, I sat in my office chair dwelling on what had been a very successful quiz night 3 days before and was feeling well ‘blue’ that it was all over. That was when it hit me!
Another area we focus on within our unit is that of organising team building activities for groups. What if I could broaden our range of activities to reach out to a wider audience? Then we could have even more ‘mini events’ and my problem of post event blues would be solved. So I got down to some research and started contacting what seemed like some pretty cool organisations to team up with. When ‘Can You Escape – Escape Rooms Malta’ actually came back to us with an opportunity to actually try out the activity for ourselves, I was over the moon (even if I wasn’t exactly sure what an escape room was….).
Having just held a group activity with the rest of our team a few weeks back (this was extremely amusing but that would call for a whole other blog post…), and since we needed to combine trying out the escape room with a meeting with the owners, we decided to limit this to myself and the unit’s manager Johanna (you can find out more about her here). So there we were on a Wednesday evening about to enter a room that would be locked for an hour unless we managed to solve all the clues beforehand.
An Escape Room can hold up to 7 people so I must admit that I was quite hesitant at the thought of being just 2 but never one to turn down a challenge we both headed straight in. The door locked a few seconds later and we were left to it. Now if you’ve ever experienced an escape room for yourself then you know that probably the hardest part is getting started. You are literally left inside a room without being given any form of clue or starting point. If you are anything like myself and Johanna then within seconds you start pulling things apart in the hopes of finding something.
The problem with overthinking, apart from creating a huge mess is that you tend to overlook the fact that the clue is sitting there on the desk right in front of you….
So you’ve probably realised that it took us a while to get going and we did need a few hints along the way (if you were thinking that you would just be left all alone for an hour then fear not as in times of desperation you are in fact allowed to contact the game master for a tip here and there…).
The good thing about an escape room is the fact that you start to get used to how things go and your brain figures out what to look for or how best to solve things. The problem in my case is that I have aways had a very short concentration span and I am also very impatient (lucky I had Johanna there to help as at times it can get a bit frustrating…) In fact I did get lucky once with a code just by guessing…. (At the time Johanna seemed amazed that I had managed to solve it so quickly so I never actually told her that it was a fluke 😉 )
One other thing with Escape Rooms is that although solving a clue is extremely satisfying and really does put you on a high, getting stuck on one can drive you nuts. I think at one stage I was so desperate that I proposed undressing one of the toy models there in the hopes of finding something. We laughed for ages after – pity it took us another 15 minutes to realise that we were actually onto something with this… Another hilarious moment we experienced in our times of need was when for some reason (I can’t actually remember what was going through my head) I decided to lift up the (what was meant to be fixed) computer on the table. Despite thinking I was headed in the right direction with this, I got told off by the game master shortly after.
I don’t want to end up giving too much away but all in all I think you get the gist – we had a fantastic time and we actually managed to escape with a few minutes to spare. Escape Rooms are a great experience and they really do bring people together, not just because of the different frames of thought needed to solve particular puzzles but also certain challenges actually require help from others. If you are looking for something mentally challenging but yet a good laugh amongst friends then look no further because this is the activity for you.