So logically when we needed some team mates to play Escape Mate - Wellington's first escape simulation game, we immediately decided we'd have to bring our very clever husbands along. Otherwise we may never actually escape at all! And because the Escape Mate vault game requires a minimum of three players (max 6).
Off we went on a fine Saturday morning to get locked into a real vault for 60 minutes. Yes real! The vault door itself was made in Canada in around 1976. It's still going strong and it looks very cool. I was curious though, how it would stand up against a stick of dynamite - like in the movies?
We were introduced to our lovely hosts Laura and Tibor (The founder and director of Escape Mate). They talked us through the basic goal - Escape (duh!). How were we to do this? Well that was the fun part. Behind the large vault door lay a room full of clues and codes. Some would be legit and some would be there to throw us off the scent. We'd have to think outside the square and work together as a team to find the code to open the door.
And the story line? All good escape games have a story line! This particular adventure involves a bunch of bank robbing Hungarians and a small Wellington police team (us) sent to raid their Gang Pad. As soon as the police team, lead by their Captain (Mariana) enter the vaulted Gang Pad, the door swings shut and is locked from outside by a gang member who'd been hiding out incognito. He then runs off to alert his goons who will return in one hour to make mince meat out of the police team (Hungarians are famous for their sausages). If the police team is to survive then they will need to escape as soon as possible!
The first thing we had to do was have a warm up game! Thanks to all my years of theatre I immediately thought we'd be playing a name game or personifying seaweed. But it was not that kind of warm up! I won't spoil the fun for future escapees but let's just say it was more of a mental warm up, similar to doing a sudoku or working on a math problem. It definitely got my mind thinking - That was a bit hard. It probably didn't help that we decided to play Escape Mate on the dawn of Mercury Retrograde when all brains are foggy and team communications are at an all time low!
Then it was time to head into the vault! It was super exciting and a little spooky hearing the vault door lock loudly behind us. As soon as it closed we were off! All four of us, off like headless chickens, fossicking around the 50 square metre (approx) room looking for clues. We were all frantic. There was so much to see and we had no idea what was important and what was merely a distraction. There were padlocks. There were numbers. There were all sorts of bits and bobs.
One thing is for sure, we did not automatically work as a team. We were out for ourselves! Calling out numbers to no one in particular to write down. More times than I'd like to admit, I'd abandon a task half way through, passing it off as a mere distraction, only for someone else to come along and discover a secret lock box, key or code was hiding right where I had been looking! So annoying!
It felt like we'd been inside for about five minutes when we looked at the clock and realised more than half an hour had already passed and we hadn't even cracked any codes! We'd been so busy searching the nooks and crannies for clues that we'd missed those hidden in plain site! Luckily we had a bit of help. Laura and Tibor prompted us a few times via walky-talky, after probably watching us on the cameras missing the obvious clues.
We did make it out - eventually and we had a ball getting there. We're not supposed to say anything to spoil the surprise so that when you go and play (and you so should) you will not beat our record time of 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Yes, we just made it out in the nick of time!
Escape Mate is so much fun! Such great mind enhancing entertainment! It makes you think and is also an excellent team building exercise, a great work Christmas party experience and the Dark Room game (2 players) would be a fun idea for a date night. And at $20pp for the vault and $25pp for the dark room, I think it's a rather affordable form of entertainment!
I'd also recommend trying Escape Mate first if you've ever been tempted to go on The Amazing Race with a sibling or bestie. If you can survive 60 minutes problem solving in a room together you might just win the race!
May the force be with you. And watch out for those Hungarians!
You can find more info on the Escape Mate website and their Facebook page.