Escape rooms are as close to being on the Crystal Maze as most of us will ever come.
They’re like a board game you can walk around, a stressful, frenetic, brain teasing puzzle that you can solve with friends.
I’ll stop short of calling them paintballing for the thinking person, because that would offend those who have their own paintball guns and camo gear, but you get the gist.
An escape room is a room that you and your pals get locked into, with a set of clues and riddles left for you to work out how to escape.
And Chesterfield now has its own escape room, [ESC] Enter. Solve. Conquer.
Based in office space off Park Road, [ESC] is the brainchild of Gazz Hayes.
“[ESC] was born from a love of games and puzzles and a wish to provide events and entertainment that simulate being in your own video game,” he said.
“Similarly, as a kid who didn’t want to appear on TV shows like Crystal Maze and Knightmare?”
As somewhat of a veteran of escape rooms, having attempted four others in Sheffield, it was with some confidence I entered [ESC] just two weeks after it opened, along with three friends.
But an hour later, it wasn’t us who opened the door to escape, Gazz opened it for us – we had failed.
In fact in its first two weeks of operation, no one had managed to work out all the clues and solve the [ESC] mystery.
A lot of thought and hard work has gone into creating a narrative, a back story and a trail of puzzles that should lead to escape.
Without giving too much away, there’s a post-apocalyptic theme and puzzles that require logic, common sense and faint memories of GSCE chemistry.
As infuriating as it was to fail the task set, having escaped from all four previous experiences, it’s an intense and enjoyable hour inside [ESC].
Communication is key, saying what you see and debating aloud the potential answers.
But choose your fellow ‘prisoners’ wisely – time sensitive games can put a strain on the closest of relationships.
Gazz hopes to have three rooms set up inside his premises, which will be vital to ensure one-time visitors become more regular customers.
Other businesses of a similiar ilk change their rooms after a period of time, to attract people back for a new challenge.
To keep up to date with developments at [ESC] and to book your own attempt to conquer Gazz’ creation, visit http://entersolveconquer.com/