Published on October 23rd, 2014 | by Cheryl CS


Breaking out is REALLY hard to do

The worst thing about Breakout Edmonton, our city’s newest live action escape game, is the fact that your failure to break out of your room will haunt you. FOREVER. You’ll frustrate yourself trying to figure out that very last clue, wishing you hadn’t spent so much time messing around on the first puzzle. You’ll wonder what was in the box. How the clues fit together. What it would feel like to get that door open, in the end.

The best thing about Breakout Edmonton is identical to the worst thing. For those who enjoy puzzles, adventure games, cryptic clues, and using their brains, Breakout Edmonton is a revelation in live action gaming. The whole premise is based on breaking out of a themed room by solving clues and putting together pieces of a complex and multifaceted puzzle. Each room has a particular concept—once you grasp that, you can make it through. But nothing is easy and nothing can be taken for granted.

I went with a group of three friends to test Breakout’s “The Awakening” room and, as you can tell, I can’t stop thinking about it. First of all, there’s the adrenaline rush. You’re put in the room with no instructions—all you know is that you must get that door open. Without giving away too many details (because I’d hate to ruin the room for anyone else), we had to collectively use our skills and brainpower to solve the puzzles. Some of them were extremely abstract, while other puzzles were unbelievably simple once you realized what you were looking for.

One of the greatest things about the game—and one of the reasons people play adventure and puzzle-solving games in general—is that elated sense of achievement when you get something right. You feel so damned smart, like you can take on any challenge and succeed. Until you reach the next puzzle and you don’t have a bloody clue how it works.

The members of my group felt the same way.

“It made me feel like I was an idiot at some points,” says Sam Vaughan. “I liked that some stuff was easy—some stuff made you feel smart. I’d go again because I HAVE to beat it.”

“I really liked that they just drop you off in a room, no explanation, and you’re forced to just figure it out on your own,” says Bryce Kelley. “And you don’t know [in] what order to figure things out. You need to rely on everybody to put in their input. It was a cool group thing. I want to try each of the different themes and then, after I fail all those, go back so that I can win all of them…in record time.”

“I actually liked how it made you feel helpless at points,” says Amanda Clisdell. “And then that made your brain think in panic mode as you try to get out, especially as that clock ticked down. It was fantastic. I would go again.”

The trick to Breakout, in my opinion, is in having a good team. You need to go with people who will take the clues seriously and not waste time. You need to build a team that you trust and who have an ability to think outside of the box. Intelligence is better when varied—people have different skills and different ways of seeing things. You need to use that to your advantage. And you need to be aware of the time; you only have 45 minutes to break out and—trust me—that time will fly.

Of course, that’s if you want to win. You can go and be silly and not care, but the fun lies in truly getting into the game. It’s an unbelievable experience and, in my case, one that sticks with you.

According to the website FAQ, they’ll be changing the room themes every three to five months, so people who want to go on a regular basis aren’t stuck with the same rooms for eternity. The current rooms are The Awakening, 1408, Le Gala, and Secret Laboratory. Each player pays $25 per room; if you have a group of 4-6, you can reserve the room for yourself so that strangers don’t join you. Luckily, the other two who were supposed to be in our room didn’t show up on time, so we got ours to ourselves. Our group of four was perfect—six people might get a little tight and more than a little frustrating. Too many cooks, and all that jazz.

If you’re thinking of trying it, here are three pieces of advice for you potential breakouts:

  1. Keep one eye on the time: that clock will count down faster than you think. Never waste a second.
  2. Don’t get caught up on one thing: you might think one thing is obvious and spend all of your time on that, but you need to be aware of everything else. A good team is one that works together while inspecting various things at once.
  3. Never set anything aside: there’s a reason you’re given certain clues. While some might be red herrings, always keep them in mind. You might have missed something important.

I can’t recommend this experience enough. As a long-time fan of games like Broken Sword, Monkey Island, and Professor Layton, I knew I’d enjoy Breakout Edmonton—I had no idea I’d enjoy it this much. Minutes after we finished our game, we were already looking into booking one of the other rooms. It’s THAT much fun.

Unfortunately, we failed. That failure will continue to haunt me. And I’m not going to rest until I’ve tried each of their rooms and managed to break out of at least one. Room 1408, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Book your Breakout experience online here. As part of their first month’s discount, rates are only $21 per person until the end of October 2014.

CC cover image from the Breakout Edmonton website.

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About the Author

| Editor-in-Chief and founder of The Pulp. Cosplayer, gamer, comic book collector, and anime lover. Fond of the Oxford comma.

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