The invitation to my 26th escape room arrived from an unexpected source – a bloggers event hosted by Questomania to present the new trends in the field including hands-on experience.
Our fourth escape room was one of Questomania’s and it was a disappointment, especially their handling of the issues we encountered, so to be honest, I did not expect to ever return, however I decided to give it a chance.
After light refreshments we settled down to a short yet comprehensive presentation given by the owner – Michael Safran.
2 years ago there were a handful of companies with about 10 rooms (rooms #6 and #7 were opened by Questomania). Today, there are over 300 rooms in Israel, many companies competing to carve out their niche, and an ever growing community of escapers. Questomania has chosen to branch out into additional activities other than “regular” escape rooms including:
* Portable escape rooms which enable building quests on site and using them as tools for training and organizational development
* Games in the dark
* A street quest pending final approval by the Tel-Aviv municipality
* Future plans for culinary quests
By the time Michael completed his presentation our numbers had grown to 20 so we split into 2 groups. Our group started with the “portable escape room”. Out of 5 available games we were given the Retro, classified as medium difficulty.
Well, it is not a room, and you don’t need to escape from it. Other typical escape room characteristics such as multiple spaces, decor, and light & sound effects are also lacking, so it is definitely not an “escape room”. However it is a certainly a quest, with many recognizably elements (such as locks, puzzles, riddles, ultraviolet flashlight and even some technological gadgets) that can be found in escape rooms.
Our biggest challenge was the size of our group – 10 people, most of whom had just met for the first time. The quest is parallel and not linear but it was not designed for more than 6 at the most. Unlike classic escape rooms, the gamemaster is more than just a voice and his physical presence changed the nature of communication. He was quite good and helped in synchronizing the 10 of us. We completed the quest fairly quickly – only 37 min. and in my opinion it should be classified as easy. However it was nice and is certainly suitable for beginners who are not familiar with the concept. The mobility is certainly a great advantage as it can be taken to the workplace, schools or private homes.
The noise (shouts of joy?) emanating from the room the 2nd group was in, could be heard very clearly. So we waited patiently, some of us nervously, for our next challenge.
In the first game we played 5 against 4 as it is forbidden for pregnant women (and men too). In fact you have to sign a disclaimer of liability before you enter. The purpose is to find gold treasure hidden in the room and transfer it to your team’s vault. The first team to reach 15 wins. The game takes place in total darkness with helmets and protective goggles.
The duration of the game depends on the players, but a typical game lasts 15-20 min.
Deciding on a strategy is nice, but when you cannot see anything, you have no idea where you are or where your team’s vault is, and you are trying to figure out if the person you just bumped into is on your team or not – your plans evaporate into thin air. Most of us had a lot of fun, I think one quit in the middle. Also, my team won so 🙂
For the 2nd game only 5 of us remained (a darkness overdose?). I was one of 2 catchers with glowing signs on their helmets who needed to tag 3 hiders with 2 coins each. Whenever a catcher tags a hider, he takes 1 coin. The objective is to collect all the coins in 15 min. Unlike the previous game, this one was silent except for the background music that helped the hiders. After 15 min. we had only collected 5 of the 6 coins so we lost but nevertheless it was great fun.
There are similar games that can be played in the dark so unlike an escape room or quest you can return with a different group to share the fun. Not necessarily suitable for everyone, but I enjoyed myself.
To cap: Questomania has a variety of interesting options for small and large groups and there is no doubt that after such games you will be more familiar with those who played with you 🙂