Monday evening I attended a YVR Bloggers event at i-Exit downtown Vancouver. As an avid ‘escape room’ player, (I have done about ten rooms with five different companies, and escaped all but one…) I was excited to try out a location I hadn’t attended before. If you haven’t heard of the escape room craze, let me give you a bit of information. Essentially 2-8 people enter a room that has a theme and a backstory. Through a series of clues and challenges, you work together to solve each part and eventually escape the room. There are staff to offer hints or help, there are often codes, locks, and puzzles that you work together to figure out. Sound fun? It absolutely is!
A colleague and I went to check out i-Exit and we were greeted by owner, Thomas Strem, who gave us a bit of history on escape rooms and their popularity in Hungary, where he is from. Thomas talked about his passion for puzzles and described his four escape rooms as ‘family friendly’ with nothing scary for children, inclusive, with wheelchair accessible rooms that everyone can enjoy with no strenuous physical challenges, and with varying degrees of overall challenge. i-Exit has two rooms that are a bit easier (Pirates on the Rocks is one of them) and two rooms that are more challenging. We took on one of the more challenging rooms, The Matrix.
Here is the storyline: Everybody thinks they know him but nobody does. The geek. He turns off gravitation, smokes behind firewall and walks through walls, when we don’t watch him. Now he planted a deadly virus on his computer that will destroy the world – can your team stop it? DO NOT FEAR to race through the tunnel! But WHERE is the tunnel? Either you are lost forever in the labyrinth of his mind or you emerge from the maze and find your way out. Think you got what it takes to outsmart him?
Having been to several escape rooms before, I was excited to see the details put into the room. What impressed me was the intricacy of the decor. Knowing nothing in an escape room is by accident, I enjoyed learning there were decoy props and multiple rooms. The Matrix had some nice surprises that I hadn’t seen in an escape room before. Without giving anything away, there was use of cameras to tunnels in the second room and tasks that required team work and communication to get the information needed to get the next clue. As a school teacher, I appreciated the brain teasers, puzzles and subtle clues that led us to the next piece of the challenge.
One feature i-exit uses that I have not seen in other escape rooms included intercom and walkie talkie communication for hints if needed. Other escape rooms had a button to press so someone could come help you or a flashlight to wave at the camera to call for help, but this allowed instant communication. This proves to be useful, Thomas says, when a group of kids come in and are off track, they can speak to them and give them a clue to get them headed in the right direction.
Overall, this was one of the best designed escape rooms I have encountered and the staff and owner were extremely friendly, passionate about the rooms and accommodating. Afterwards (yes we escaped, or rather, disabled the computer virus) they were happy to chat with us about what we thought, questions we had, parts we liked best and their customer service was matched equally by their passion for their craft.
I think escape rooms need to have just the right balance of challenge and that feeling of progression and feeling successful and i-exit provides just that. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of their rooms. At $30 a person, and discounts for groups, this is a fantastic family or team building activity right in downtown Vancouver.
Check them out at 1129 Granville Street, Vancouver
Connect with i-Exit online