Morgantown has seen a relatively mild winter so far, but that doesn’t mean we’re all free from having at least a little bit of Cabin Fever! It has been a few months since most of us have been able to enjoy a cook-out, bonfire, hike, day on the lake, or an excuse to just get out of the house! This past weekend, I was feeling like I had been locked in forever and just wanted to escape the confines of my house. That’s it! ESCAPE! I have seen countless posts, billboards, and ads for the escape rooms in Morgantown, and just hadn’t gotten a chance to check one out yet. I thought, “What better way to chase away the longing for an escape than by finding one right here in town?!?!”

Escape rooms are all the rage in “live-action entertainment” and are popping up in cities all over. Never been to an escape room? The premise is pretty simple: you’re in a room (or series of rooms) and have to find clues and solve puzzles or riddles in order to find your way out. You have a limited amount of time to get through all the locks and regain your freedom. Most rooms offer a few clues that you can use throughout the way if you get stuck.

Based on my experiences, that’s pretty much where the simplicity ends. These challenges can be quite difficult. You better pack your thinking cap! From start to finish, the pressure of the time constraint provides a fast-paced, high-stress situation for your team to escape. It really is a great opportunity to explore your group dynamic. In the right situations, it might even be a cool option for team-building.

We chose XSCAPE, Live Escape Games down on the Wharf for our experience. There were 8 of us. After hearing about the three rooms they offered, we went with “Taken”. I’ll be honest, we admitted to the staff that not all of us had done an escape room before… and that we just came from brunch with bottomless mimosas. (While we’re talking about firsts: If you’ve never had brunch with bottomless mimosas, you should check out Iron Horse Tavern.) Taken seems to be their beginner room, so it was kind of a no-brainer. XSCAPE describes Taken as:

“You along with your friends are touring the city. You stumble into the wrong part of town and find yourself in the middle of an armed robbery of a local convenience store. In a panic, the criminals have taken your group hostage and are holding you in their local hideout. Your prison is a music studio front for their criminal activity. They have divided you into two groups and you must work together to reunite and escape before the thugs come back. You have 60 minutes.”

Bruch at Iron Horse Tavern provided a little liquid courage to get us out of our shells and into the interactive action of the escape room!

We started in a smaller lounge area and got basic instructions, and an overview of how the process would work. The staff was great, and we really liked our game-master. (He followed our progress offering up our clues, suggestions, and general wit on the monitors in the rooms.) Within a few minutes we were divided up and in the music studio’s recording booths. We could see the rest of our team, but couldn’t hear them. We had to make our way out of our individual booths, and into the common area. From there, we weren’t separated again and could work together for the duration of the time. We had 4 free clues, and any ones after that would cost us one minute from our final time.

It would be cheating for me to give you much more of a synopsis of the room, so I’ll leave you with a few facts:
• While we did technically escape.
• We barely made it out with only about 6 minutes to spare. (less mimosas next time?)
• We used every single free clue. Right before we got out, we were thinking about taking an extra clue (even though it would dock our time).
• There were more riddles, puzzles, clues, and locks than we originally expected.
• We felt like it took us a good 15 minutes to get into the zone, and get warmed-up for thinking critically. (Again, maybe this would have been better without the mimosas?)
• We were surprised at how well we worked together when we needed to.
• We had a lot of fun, and everyone in the group vowed to try another room soon!

Lets face it, folks: Spring won’t be here for a while. Its probably too cold for you to go geocaching, and I think we’ve all already deleted Pokemon Go… so don’t rule out an escape room when thinking about your next immersive fix! We are pretty lucky here in Morgantown, as we just so happen to have two different companies offering experiences! Most rooms come in at less than $30 per person, so it’s pretty comparable to dinner and a movie! Check them out, and let me know what you think!

Turns out, they really bolted that key to the wall… you know…in the event that your friends try to act like they need it for the upcoming escape.

XSCAPE!
63 Wharf St. Suite 50
Morgantown, WV 26505
(304) 680-COOL
http://www.escape.cool/

MORGANTOWN ESCAPE ROOM
12 Commerce Drive,
Morgantown, WV 26501
(304) 241-4207
https://morgantownescaperoom.com/

(Note: Fear not, control freaks and claustrophobics! Most rooms are spacious, and there are emergency exits/keys in the event that you need out quickly.)



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