Marquette Wire

Interactive puzzle offers exciting challenge

Participants have 60 minutes to break out of locked room

Photo by Photo via Escapechambers.com/ec-milwaukee/

Photo by Photo via Escapechambers.com/ec-milwaukee/

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Imagine being locked in a room with a group of strangers. A timer counts down the time allotted for escape and a camera watches every move you make. Members earn clues by screaming for help, solving various puzzles in the maze or checking in via Facebook to confirm the visit.  This may sound a little bit like the “Saw” horror franchise, but rest assured, Escape Chambers is nothing like those movies.

Originally a laser tag location in Des Moines, Iowa, Escape Chambers has spread to Chicago, Las Vegas, Madison, and now Milwaukee. Escape Chambers, located on the second floor of the Shops of Grand Avenue at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., features four different scenarios.

The Assignment chamber requires a team to find the evidence of stolen documents that a professor has taken from various exhibits at museums. The Heist involves stealing diamonds and putting them back before the security guards catch anyone trying to break in. Containment is about finding a cure for a disease that breaks out in the lab and trying to stop the virus from spreading across the globe. The final scenario is about a group of models who are lured into a photo shoot and become trapped by a serial killer. All of these require teamwork to escape the puzzle.

“I thought that it was altogether a good experience because it made everyone think outside of the box, which not everyone does every day,” said Kristefer Rubinstein, a freshman in the College of Communication.

Kelly Ryan is the operations manager of Milwaukee’s Escape Chambers. The original Escape Chamber owners came up with the idea of the various scenarios and challenges people have to go through in order to escape the dungeon they are in. Each year, the puzzles change are either tweaked or transformed completely into a new puzzle to increase difficulty levels and encourage customers to return.

“We have ideas for new rooms or scenarios that are working at different locations that people love, and we will probably bring them here over the next couple of months or so,” Ryan said.

There are plans to expand by adding more rooms over the next six months.

There’s a team of 40-60 employees that help with the various puzzles and make sure the traps or mechanics – like a vault or door – open properly. Some employees set the scenario and storyline for people to follow, while others set up the traps and puzzles to solve. There’s even an online forum for people to contribute to solving puzzles found throughout Escape Chambers locations.

“I would definitely go back, but I would probably want to go with a huge group of my friends,” said Madeline Mathias, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. “It’s just easier and more fun when you know everyone and can figure stuff out with them.” Mathias did something similar in Minneapolis and managed to escape.

“About 20 percent of people manage to escape on average,” Ryan said. “Some rooms tend to have higher escape rates, others are more difficult.”

If people are lucky to be a part of the 20 percent that escape, they get their photo featured on the official Facebook page as bragging rights.

Ryan said once people have had their first experience with Escape Chambers, they want to come back to prove to themselves that they can beat the puzzles.

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