Inspired by video games, escape games are on the rise. There are more than 280 theaters, in 80 different locations, throughout the province. Difficult to navigate in the face of such an offer! Specialists in these immersive experiences offer us their advice.
Created in Japan in 2007, escape games arrived in Quebec in 2014. They allow players to solve in a limited time (usually one hour) a series of puzzles, mysteries and trials to escape from ‘a room where they are locked.
Addicted to escape games, a very active group
Patrick Pilon is a huge fan of these games: he tried to escape, most of the time successfully, 270 different theaters in Quebec, the United States and Europe. Internal salesperson for an industrial motorhome company, he is the administrator of the Facebook group Escape games addicts – Quebec. The roughly 3,500 members suggest games, criticize them, and share resources. For Mr. Pilon, this is the place to find personalized advice. “One of my favorite things,” he says, “is finding the perfect game for someone who has very specific criteria.”
Several room owners are present on the page and participate in the discussions. However, they are required to identify themselves when proposing a game. “And the moderation team makes sure this rule is adhered to,” insists Patrick Pilon.
Escapedia, a rich database
Another interesting resource to consult: the collaborative website Escapedia, created by Guillaume Benny. “The ratings that can be found on the gaming sites are calculated based on evaluations made by the 300 registered users of the website,” explains the analyst-programmer. More than a ranking system, the site offers a wealth of information, such as game times, degree of difficulty, number of recommended players, success rate, and this, for all of Canada.
The site is a voluntary contribution from Mr. Benny, who especially wants to share his passion and help players find the game that suits them best. “The selection criteria for the database were designed based on the questions that arise most frequently among players,” he says.
The Captivated, a blog for enthusiasts
If you are looking for in-depth commentary, there are some blogs (Les Fugitifs, Échappez-vous) that publish game reviews, without revealing key elements. An exercise that Marc Raymond and Jessica Lebbe lend themselves to from the Les Captives blog, active since 2018. “By dint of being requested by those around us for advice, Marc launched the idea and we created the site together,” explains Ms. Lebbe, CKRL journalist.
Completely independent, the duo try to keep their feet on the ground and reach as many people as possible at their entrances. “We don’t want to be elitist and we try to surprise ourselves as much as possible, even if we are not necessarily fans,” explains Mr. Raymond.
Some expert advice
With an average price of around $ 30 per person, it can be difficult to choose the game that will give us the best return for our money. We asked speakers we met for advice on choosing the ideal room.
• Choose according to theme
For a first experience, the ideal is to point to a room whose theme speaks to you: prison, Egyptian pyramid, Mayan temple, mafia, viruses are some of the essentials of the genre.
• Know the details of the game.
Visit the companies’ websites to study their offering and see photos of the locations. This will give you an idea of the creators’ attention to detail and the immersive side of the game, but you need to be careful as images from photo banks are often used. Ask the number of players and remember that the magic number is usually four to fully enjoy the game.
• Read online reviews
In addition to the sources presented above, you can read the reviews on Google. However, you have to rely more on customer service than on the quality of the games offered.
• Call before booking
A call to the company is always a good option. Let them know about the experience you want to have, and possibly your phobias, to avoid ending up in a room that makes you uncomfortable. If you are playing with younger people, feel free to ask for the recommended minimum age. Be sure to inquire about their reservation modification or cancellation policy. Finally, if your birthday is approaching, remember that many merchants offer a discount that can go up to free admission. Ask them the question!
Are we really locked up?
One of the questions, almost a concern, that comes up most often from people who have never played is: “Are we really locked in?” Mr. Pilon is reassuring: “Nobody is really locked up and the authorities, like the firemen, make sure that the rooms comply with the security regulations in force.” Therefore, in the event of a power outage, fire or the like, homeowners should design a quick emergency exit for their room.
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