I’m not sure who it was that first came up with the idea of locking people in a room and making a game out of the participants’ trying to solve puzzles and riddles and escape the room before the clock runs out, but they have my unending respect. The rise of escape games has certainly provided Louisville gamers with a few different places to test their wits and concentration over the last year or two, but one of the latest iterations on the scene, Escape LOU, is doing things a little differently.
The Minneapolis-based company Escape opened its Louisville branch, their fifth location across the North and Midwest, just weeks ago and scored a truly premier location. Situated on Frankfort Avenue near The Comfy Cow and The Hub, Escape Lou currently offers two missions for guests – or “agents” – to try to solve and consequently escape. While yes, the time counts for something at Escape, the company has also instituted a unique scoring system that levels the playing field across missions and leaves those who were unable to escape with the possibility of still getting on the leaderboard.
On a recent Friday afternoon, a team comprised of some members of The Voice-Tribune – affectionately called Josie and The Pussycats after Joanna Hite Shelton, our production director – took on the “Mr. Dupree’s Office” challenge. After signing our waivers and reviewing our briefing packets explaining what the angle of the mission was, we headed into the room, closed the door and saw the timer start ticking.
The first thing that will stand out about Escape if you’ve ever done any similar kind of game is the size of the room: It’s larger than most and makes clear why Escape accepts up to 10 people per game. I don’t want to get any further into detail with the room so as not to spoil anything, but suffice it to say that there is no dearth of challenges and the family-friendly aspect of the game was clearly apparent due to the breadth of difficulty in individual challenges.
However, let it be known – and this is certainly something I liked about Escape – the game as a whole was very challenging. I’ve successfully completed similar games elsewhere, and this was unequivocally the most difficult one I’ve ever done, which I think is one of the greatest benefits to Escape LOU. I love that there are games like this that can really challenge a team, especially one like ours; we work together and communicate every day, but we had to work extra hard to be successful in the escape room. Chris Rennie, Escape’s marketing manager, attests that the company embraces the difficulty of their missions and says only about 30 percent of “agents” escape.
Alas, we were in the 70 percent and did not complete all the challenges in time to get out of the room. But as we were debriefed by the Escape team and reminded of all the hilarious snags we got caught on, we still looked at the experience as a true success.
Before Escape Lou opened, it hosted a Charity Challenge, inviting nine different local charities to compete in the Mr. Dupree mission with $1,000 going to the charity with the best score. Clearly, Escape is showing its love for Louisville. And soon, given Escape’s commitment to quality, detail, challenge and overall fun, Louisville will surely be showing its love for Escape in return. VT
For more information, visit escapelou.com or call 502.709.7533.
By REMY SISK, Staff Writer