At first glance, it’s a questionable idea. You pay money to have someone lock you in a room and you have to find your way out? Most people will say no way! But those of us who played the online games (with terrible graphics!) know that a room escape game is more about the journey than the destination, and that idea has created a huge new form of entertainment in Saskatoon. Within a year of the first escape rooms opening just off Broadway, Saskatoon is now home to 14 escape rooms, each designed to test your code-breaking skills.
The premise of a room escape game is simple: you’re locked in a room and you have to find clues and solve puzzles to eventually figure a way out. Each room has its own theme, ranging from a missing Marilyn Monroe to a family squabble over a dearly departed loved ones inheritance, and allow you anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes to make your escape. While the theme is usually what will draw people to a specific company or room, it’s the experience inside that will get you hooked into wanting to come back again and again.
There are 5 companies currently operating escape rooms in Saskatoon, each with its own unique rooms and playing style. They all use the standard combination locks and coded safes, but some also incorporate the laws of physics and at least 4 of the 5 senses. So far I haven’t had to taste anything, thank goodness!
Escape City is also a newer addition to our fair city, opening its doors in July. They currently offer 3 rooms: The Inheritance, The Cabin, and Keller’s Magic Emporium; with plans to expand to 5 rooms. The interesting twist offered by Escape City is that they use details from members of the group as part of the game. Your name might be part of a puzzle or your birthdate might open a lock. I found this highly imaginative and a great addition to the game.
Cost: $25.00 per person
Address: 248 3rd Ave. S, Saskatoon, SK
Deadlock was the second company I tried and I’m proud to say I escaped the Missing Marilyn room with only minutes to spare! They currently have 4 rooms up and running: Missing Marilyn, Shanghai Lockup, Haunted Asylum, and Nightmare, all with 60 minute time limits. In addition to escaping Marilyn, I was also successful in fleeing from the Haunted Asylum, but I was stuck in the Lockup when the buzzer rang. I highly recommend all of the rooms, but Missing Marilyn and Haunted Asylum may not be suitable for young children.
Cost: $25.00 per person
Address: 104-2225 Hanselman Court, Saskatoon, SK
Breakout currently has 3 rooms in operation: MADD Laboratory, Code Red: Infiltration, and Dead Professor Society. Some of their rooms are slightly larger and can accommodate more people, so if you’re wanting to take a large group, they can facilitate you. I’ve tried 2 of the rooms at this location, with a final score of Breakout 1: Kelly 1. I think a tie-breaker is in order!
Cost: $20 per person
Address: 805 48th St., Saskatoon, SK
Room Escape currently offers 2 rooms; The 7th Scroll (60 minutes), and the more difficult, Secret Rescue (75 minutes). Located above Amigo’s Cantina, this company boasts only 12% of participants will escape their rooms within the allotted 60 minutes. Unfortunately, I was not in that group, but I had a great time trying to get out!
Cost: From $26.00 per person
Address: 206-810 Dufferin Ave, Saskatoon, SK
Mastermind is one of the newest escape companies to open in Saskatoon. They currently offer 2 rooms: The Lost Jewel of Zanzibar, and The Lucky Duck Speakeasy, both with 60 minute time limits. The Speakeasy room also requires you to defuse a bomb before you can get out, in case just getting out of a locked room is too easy!
Address: 123 Ave. B South, Saskatoon, SK
10 Tips for Escaping A Room
While not all escape rooms are created equal, here are 5 tips to help you in your quest:
1. Look everywhere for clues! Seriously, everywhere. They could be hidden in light fixtures, plants, curtains, drawers…the list is really endless.
2. Most companies will have some sort of marker to let you know if something shouldn’t be moved, such as a special tape or note, or even gluing items down.
3. If you have to break something to look inside, guaranteed it’s not in there. None of the rooms I’ve tried have things hidden under the flooring or in the ceiling, so don’t try any acrobatics or rip up the carpet. Remember that it’s not supposed to be impossible to get out, just hard!
4. Don’t assume anything. A book might not actually be a book. A presumably blank notebook might have something written on page 241. Refer to #1 and look everywhere.
5. Pick things up and examine them. In this type of environment, things are rarely what they seem.
6. Look for oddities. You’ll find yourself humming “one of these things is not like the others”. Is one table leg shorter than the others? Might be a clue under there. A modem that’s not actually hooked up to a computer? Hmmmm. Might be something you want to look at.
7. Use the resources provided to you. In some of the rooms, they’ll provide a flashlight or a black light. That usually means it’s required to find something. Make sure you shine it in every nook and cranny to search for clues.
8. Don’t forget to use your lifelines! Every room I’ve tried offers hints. Use them if you have to. It doesn’t count against your time and it’ll often help you out of a jam. As with anything, there could be glitches, and using a hint can get you past something that just might not be working.
9. If you’re worried about being in an enclosed space, don’t be. The games are designed for fun, not torture. The doors aren’t actually locked behind you, it’s just part of the game. And once the game begins, you’ll be too into the hunt to worry about claustrophobia.
10. It’s not a solo mission. Scatter and look for clues then bring them to a specified area for review, like a table or desk. You might find a key with no lockbox or a lockbox with no key. It’s good to identify those things to your team so you’re all on the same page. Communication is key! Get it? Key?
So I invite you all to try these little adventures in our city, but be warned, they’re highly addictive!!
Written by Kelly Gabrielsson
Kelly Gabrielson was born and raised in Saskatoon and loves sharing her adoration of the city with anyone who will listen. She has a degree in Marketing from the University of Saskatchewan and spent the first 12 years after graduating in sales positions, which gave her opportunities to travel extensively around North America. Kelly also owns and operates Colour Me Cushions, washable cushions that can be coloured, cleaned and coloured again. Kelly recently joined Family Fun Canada’s team as a freelance writer to share her stories about her favourite places in Saskatoon.
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