Real Escape Game Toronto a thrilling race against time
The Real Escape Game Toronto is an interactive live game located at The Foundery in Dundas West. Up to 11 people are locked in a room for one hour, and must find clues and solve puzzles to find the key and escape the room. The first Real Escape Game originated in Japan before heading to China, Taiwan, Singapore, and the U.S.; this edition is the first one held in Canada.
I arrived at the Foundery on a Saturday evening to test out the game; my companion and I were put on a team with seven strangers. I was feeling pretty confident about the game, due to my companion's master's degree in engineering (and my years of experience decoding meaningless garbage on Lost message boards). The rules were explained, waivers were signed, and the game began.
The hour we spent in the room was incredibly intense. We had to work together as a team to scour the room for clues, solve puzzles, find patterns and generally do all the things they do in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It felt like being inside Saw, but instead of being threatened with the death of loved ones, I was threatened with the possibilities of letting down strangers and putting to waste the hours I spent reading every Encyclopedia Brown published before 1996.
The same version of the game is currently being used for all sessions, so I won't spoil any actual details of the game for future escape artists. I will note that the game plays in a way that keeps you on a dizzying adrenaline high for 60 straight minutes. Clues are hidden in such a way that discoveries continually happen throughout the entire hour, the puzzles are complex but not impossible, and the way each part of the game comes together to lead to the next mystery was incredibly well-thought out and perfectly executed.
In the end, we didn't escape the room in time. Few do - only 1.8% of gamers in the Real Escape Game San Francisco, for example, actually managed to escape. Regardless of the outcome, it was an amazing, exhilarating hour.
After the time ran out, the event's game master came into the room and showed us the solutions, prompting lots of "THAT was important?" and "We were so close!" The entire process took about 75 minutes, including the introduction, game and post-game debrief.
It's safe to say that the Real Escape Game T.O. was the coolest way I've ever spent an hour with strangers in an enclosed space. The game's emphasis on communication makes it perfect for team-building or a family event, and the pure fun aspect guarantees a great afternoon activity for friends or a date.
The only downside is that once you've played, you have to wait for the next volume to come out, complete with new codes and puzzles, before you can play again. Until then, you can find me labouring over the Daily Jumble (there must be a hidden message within that terrible pun!) in hopes of become part of the elusive 1.8% next time.
The Real Escape Game T.O. is located at The Foundery (376 Bathurst St.), with sessions held Friday to Sunday, and admission is just under $35 per person with tax.