Escape rooms have been blowing up in the last few years, and with good reason – they’re a unique, challenging way to test yourself, and, if you escape, a pretty rewarding experience.

PaniQ Room

My first escape room experience was at the PaniQ Room. I understood the basic concept: you’re locked in a room, and you follow a series of clues to find your way out. But when we arrived I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be a big room, or a closet? Were we going to have to crawl through tiny passageways or climb over obstacles? Was I going to need to know tons of obscure trivia tidbits?

I was a little nervous as we checked in. I didn’t know if this was going to be too difficult for me and we wouldn’t even get through the first clue, or if I was going to feel claustrophobic, or if it was just going to be utterly terrifying. I mean, the word “panic” is in the name! But our guide explained the rules and got us set up in the room, then the countdown began. We had exactly one hour to find our way out.

We were in The Bunker, which was, as you can guess, decorated like a military bunker. They went all out with the decor and really paid attention to detail; it was like being in a professional haunted house. The first few minutes we spent scrambling around, turning the room upside down looking for clues. It didn’t help that we had no idea what we were even looking for, or that it was eerily dark in the room. The suspenseful background music they played really added a sense of urgency and mystery.

I started off by trying every single group of numbers I came across on every combination lock in the room (BTW, don’t do this) with no success. It was still early on, but I was getting really worried that our time would run out and we wouldn’t get anywhere! We didn’t give up though, and kept rummaging around in every nook and cranny of the place.

Eventually we got the hang of it, and were able to get through some clues. I won’t give away the details, but for the most part the clues were linear, and somewhat intuitive. It was such a rush every time we got a lock to open or uncovered something new! I did feel several instances of actual panic though as I watched the clock tick away, with no idea how far we were from opening that door.

Unfortunately we didn’t make it out, although our guide informed us that we were on the final puzzle. Which was somehow more disappointing – I mean, we were right there. But we vowed to return again one day and actually get out next time.

When we came back again to try the other room, The Asylum, we brought two more people. This time we successfully made our way out. This room was equally well-decorated, with challenging clues and a creepy mental hospital theme. Between the two rooms, I couldn’t pick a favorite because they were both spectacular.

4.5/5. Incredible experience. The only thing that I think could be improved is the quality – I felt like a lot of things in there could break easily, and some of the clues were just written on little pieces of paper that probably have to be replaced all the time. Most escape rooms have this issue, but I think if I were to open one up myself, I would try to make sure everything was sturdy. You don’t want anything breaking in the middle of a game!

My personal recommendation is to do an escape room with a group of at least 3-4 people, at max maybe 6-10 depending on the room you’re in and what is allowed. Two is okay, but it will be a bit difficult to make it out, and who wants to fail? Play it safe and bring a few buddies along.