It was a dark and stormy night — well, maybe it was actually a sunny Saturday afternoon. I grabbed a group of family and friends and headed off to Castlegar’s newest entertainment venue — Conquer the Kootenay Escape Room.
I had never visited an escape room before, so I decided to make sure there were some other newbies in my group as well as a few experienced adventurers. I knew I had chosen my partners well when I arrived in the lobby just in time to see my friend completing the final turn needed to solve a Rubik’s Cube before setting it down among a group of other hand-held puzzles set up to occupy people while they wait.
Owners Brodie and Tara Jones started out by explaining what an escape room is — thankfully, they don’t all require you to actually escape. An escape room is basically a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objective at hand.
The room here has a pirate theme — a rich philanthropist who has taken a liking to dressing up like a pirate has hidden “possibly the most valuable treasure ever” in a clipper ship docked at his ocean-side mansion. Our job is to find the treasure in less than 60 minutes.
We have thoughts of grandeur in our heads of easily solving the mystery. That is until Brodie tells us that no one has solved the adventure so far. He then tells us that for the degree of difficulty of this room the success rate is supposed to be 12 per cent. Thoughts of grandeur evaporate into thought of trying not to look too foolish.
The door closes, the timer starts and we’re off — everyone looking all about, checking out the details of the room and looking for a clue to get us going. We find some clues and rather quickly solve several puzzles — our hopes begin to grow again.
But then we hit a dry spell and work fruitlessly for a while. When we are at the 35 minute mark, we finally remember we are allowed three clues — so call for a clue we did. Things began to progress again as we worked frantically against the clock.
With five minutes left, we start to get a sinking feeling — that clock is moving too fast. But then all at once, we make a breakthrough and intensely work on the final puzzle.
We become the first group to Conquer the Kootenay Escape Room. The Jones’ are just as excited — if not more excited — than we are.
An excessive amount of jubilation follows and we are asked to grab some of the pirate props and pose for a photo for the victory wall — which we gladly do.
Brodie and Tara decided to move to Castlegar a little over a year ago after falling in love with it while visiting friends. They were ready to leave their hectic lives in Grand Prairie to have more time for themselves and each other.
They saw a need for additional entertainment venues in Castlegar and thought an escape room would be the perfect fit. A second room is planned for the fall and they plan to refresh one room about every six months.
The venue is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Reservations can be made online at kootenayescaperoom.ca.