By Aaron Comsti
Escape rooms, the immersive, interactive games where a group of players races against the clock to solve puzzles and “escape the room” are popular experiences for friends, dates, corporate groups and families. Some companies use them as team-building exercises and some people go just for the thrill of it.
What adds to an escape room’s fun is the atmosphere. There’s usually a theme or story associated with each room and the immersion in this theme is what makes an escape room an enjoyable night out and a unique experience. And you don’t have to be Houdini to appreciate an escape room, which can be enjoyed by all ages and experience levels.
An escape room’s quality is largely dependent on the feeling and contents of the room itself, sometimes more so than the puzzles. (Solve it Sherlock Escape Room) is a new company that has nailed the atmosphere, and not just in its rooms. It is located in Neptune, just off of the Asbury Circle. It’s a bit hard to spot at first, but once customers find their way in, they’re greeted with a quaint Sherlock Holmes-themed waiting area as their escape room is prepared. There are posters referencing Holmes stories on the walls, framed pictures of the detective himself on tables, a few handheld puzzles for participants to pass the time while they wait, and a box full of fun props like magnifying glasses and deerstalker hats to use while taking photos.
They offer three different adventures: Quarantine, The Magician’s Secret and Pirates of the Golden Skull, all with differing levels of difficulty. Quarantine was designed with the help of a renowned haunted house company to be a dark, atmospheric laboratory where tests on a zombie virus had been held. Everything looks realistically grimy and creepy, fitting for an abandoned zombie lab. This room also features a live zombie actor who can “attack” participants at any time. If a person is attacked, they must stay in “quarantine” for two minutes as a penalty. This ramps up the intensity and difficulty level of the room, making it unsuitable for children.
But while Quarantine was designed to be dark and scary, The Magician’s Secret was designed to be the opposite. The groans of a zombie in the dark of a scary laboratory are swapped with fun ragtime music and a magic-themed, museum-like exhibit room. There’s a big “Wheel of Death” with a mannequin assistant strapped to it, a vending machine for fortunes, posters on the walls and magician’s props scattered all around the room. Not only is the atmosphere very different from Quarantine, but no puzzles were repeated or even reshaped between the two rooms, making it a unique experience that’s just as fun.
In Pirates of the Golden Skull participants must free themselves from the hold of a ship before the pirate captain out you have stolen his treasure. This room can handle up to eight players and is suitable for all ages, making it a great game for families and groups with both beginner and inter- mediate players.
Solve it Sherlock’s rates range from $29 to $34 per person, and they can accommodate four to 10 people per room. The staff is very kind and accommodating, even letting groups complete Quarantine without the zombie actor if preferred.
For more information, visit solveitsherlockescape.com.
This article was first published in the Jan. 3-Jan. 10, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.