Looking for an “escape” from everyday fun in Vancouver?
Downtown’s first escape gaming room has opened … or should I say locked … its doors. SmartyPantz, located on Abbott Street in Gastown, offers five different themed rooms to escape from – ranging in difficulty from “moderate to diabolical.”
Not familiar with the escape room phenomenon? Inspired by video games, these real-life amusement centres are popular around the world but just taking off in North America. In essence, they’re places where groups of people go to be locked inside a themed room – like a mummy’s tomb or a haunted mansion. The group then has to pick up clues, solve puzzles and pool their brainpower to get out before time expires, generally after 30-60 minutes.
Out in Richmond, there’s already one of these escape room up and running, and now Vancouver is getting in on the act, too. The various rooms inside SmartyPantz have been created by local set designers and special effects experts. Each room has a different “fear factor” and difficulty level.
First time escapees (and families with children), for example, might want to check out the Spies & Lies room. The premise: The year is 1946 and you’re a group of special RCMP operatives. You’ve snuck into a building to get secret information about a WWII-era war criminal and now you have to get out.
Looking for more of a thrill? The Morning Never Comes room is designed to look like an old, abandoned house, haunted by the victim of a grisly murder. Your task: collect clues and find a way out before the clock strikes midnight and you risk losing your head, literally. Other rooms include Thirst for Murder (a nightmarish basement, not for the faint of heart), Doomed Submarine (get out before your oxygen runs out) and Dream’scape (a baffling dream from which you can’t wake up.)
Sessions in the escape rooms lasts 45 minutes, and rooms can each accommodate up to 12 people at a time, with a minimum of four people required to play. If you arrive in a smaller group, you can be paired up with other people. Prices work out to roughly $25 per person.
According to SmartyPantz stats, roughly 25 percent of groups “succeed” in escaping on any given day. In other words, you’d better bring your A game if you plan on making it out in time.