When tasked with the goal to try the different escape games in Richmond I truly didn’t know what I was getting into or that I would start a new obsession for myself and my husband. I went in with the notion that you just escape a room and that’s that. That you needed to use logic to solve puzzles that would eventually lead you out the door. Boy, was I wrong. Well yes, that is the fundamental object of the game, I didn’t realize the intensity of the experience or the immersion into a storyline that would be possible in a mere 45-minute gameplay experience.
What is an escape game? A timed real-life game experience where you’re locked in a room (or series of rooms) for a set amount of time. This is usually 45 minutes and you have to solve a series of puzzles that will eventually help you escape the room(s).
First of all, 45 minutes goes ungodly fast when you’re in an escape game. You know all of those times when you wished that time would go faster? You never have that problem in these games. By the time the clock is running down you’ll be begging for more minutes like you’ve never begged before.
Secondly, the puzzles challenge your brain in ways that not many attractions can offer. You’re forced to think and work with people to solve challenges that you don’t normally face. Often trying to figure out the combinations to locks in order to unveil the next clue.
Ultimately, they are a great way to spend time with a group of friends.
We played the Secret Chamber room at Xcape as it was the one recommend to us to try. We had a complete blast playing this room as it was challenging enough to keep you completely engrossed in the gameplay, but not challenging enough to be discouraging. We loved the story-driven aspect of the room and the need to ‘solve the crime’ versus just trying to get out of the room. We found the hints the staff gave us very helpful and geared specifically to what we were doing, which made us advance in our mission.
We learned a lot in our first escape game experience, including the fact that you really need to work as a team in order to be successful. We tried the ‘divide and conquer’ method at first, but that didn’t work so well! Another thing we came to realize is that you can’t look at the same object for too long. It’s a waste of time! Get fresh eyes to look at something if you’re stuck. Also (and we got burned with this several times,) you really need to write down important dates/times/numbers throughout the game as you never know what digits could be used for codes/locks in future.
Even though this room was our very first escape game experience we had so much fun. One of our favourite elements about Xcape was that it was tricky, but not too tricky. It tested your intellect without making you feel stupid. We will definitely be heading back to play its other theme rooms.
Freeing! Canada Station
Here we played both the Black Swan and the Space Time rooms. We tried Freeing’s Black Swan room first as it was recommended as a nice starter room. This was perhaps one of my favourite experiences playing the escape games in Richmond — not only because we actually escaped the room and solved the crime — but because the game progressed in a logical manner that complemented several of our players’ strengths. Once we finished our game at Freeing we booked to visit again and play the Space Time room, which is one of its harder challenges. When we went back to play it we were not disappointed. The room was challenging, but incredibly smart and well thought-out. Though we didn’t escape the room, we left feeling pumped and ready to try it again — not discouraged. The rooms at Freeing were very well put together: great props, cohesive themes and fun puzzles. There were many “ah ha!” moments when playing through the two themes that led to our team being fired up and excited to see every step we played through.
One of the key things that I’ve found in Freeing is that there isn’t a ton of ‘misdirection’ like in some of the other escape games. The progression of the rooms rewards logic and sequence, whereas some of the other games were much more chaotic and random.
Freeing is a great option for anyone looking for a great all-around escape game experience. The production value of the rooms was also fantastic, which really added to the immersion factor. I found this to be one of the most encompassing experiences that was challenging, but still managed the delicate balance of being hard without making people feel stupid for not solving the room.
We played the Prison Escape and the Laboratory Escape at Exit. Both of which were Exit’s two harder rooms, and let me tell you… they are hard. We went into Exit feeling pretty smart after having successful experiences at other escape games — and wow, were we humbled. Exit is an incredibly challenging escape game business that forces its players to be incredibly fast and observant. Exit is also more number-game based than some of the other escape game companies. For example, in one room you may need to know the numerical equivalent of certain letters and combine that with a different clue from several steps earlier to create a combination. We enjoyed the intense challenge of the rooms at Exit, even though we were not even close to successful at either of its rooms.
I would say that after playing the other escape games, I prefer a game experience that is story-driven versus a game where your sole mission is to exit the room within 45 minutes. Though it may sound like just exiting a room would be easier, I assure you it’s not. Exit prides itself on the fact that it only has a 1% success rate in its rooms. For some people that may add to the attraction, for us, we found it a little bit discouraging to go in knowing that we probably wouldn’t get out of the room. And trust me, there was no illusion to us throughout the games that we were even close to getting out. I found with the other escape games that they tease you with the end of the room; they leave it in sight for you so that you have that incentive to keep moving.
I thought we had done really well in the Laboratory room, but when our timer ran out, the staff told us we had only made it through about 50%! Kudos to anyone who can move faster than we did!
If you’re looking for a true challenge, Exit is the place for you!
We played the Lost Child room at Trapped, which was one of their newer themes. It was with its challenges, but not too difficult. We played this room immediately following the Prision Escape room at Exit, so a story-driven room was warmly welcomed by our tired brains. We really enjoyed the style of the puzzles/questions that were being asked and the clues were all very smart. This game progressed more sequentially than others, but you also needed to remember elements from earlier in your game. We did manage to escape this room in the nick of time!
As I mentioned, the types of puzzles that we had to do in Trapped were different than some of the other experiences we had. They were inventive and really made us think ‘outside the box,’ which was very fun. Similar to the other experiences, the clues usually led to a code to unlock the next step of your game, but how the clues were put together was totally different, so it was lucky for us we had some creative people in our room!
The only issue we came across was that someone had stolen/misplaced an element of one of our puzzles prior to us playing the room. When we got to that puzzle, we ended up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what we were missing. When we alerted the staff (through a hint) they were very helpful and assisted us in progressing through our game.
Trapped is a great gaming option for a group looking for a less challenging, but fun and creative escape game experience.
After playing Xcape, we decided to head to Steveston to check out the new Kove Kitchen on Bayview Street. I had heard a lot about their burgers, so that’s what I was set on trying. Kove is right on the water and has a large patio with lovely views of the marina — a perfect place to enjoy a sunny day!
I opted for the Mushroom Supreme burger. It promised to be a hearty AAA beef burger (made in house) on a pretzel bun topped with a mound of mushrooms and truffle aioli. The burger was decent and made for a good post-game meal, but I definitely craved more mushrooms and less aioli as it was a messy dining experience.
My friend went with a greener option, which was the ‘Heritage Greens’ salad topped with salmon. This was a fresh, basic salad that was a great portion size for a lighter meal. The salmon was also well cooked and the perfect savoury addition.
Overall, Kove gave us what we needed: an enjoyable meal after racking our brains at an escape game. I look forward to trying different items on the menu in future visits.
3900 Bayview St,