I love getting locked in small rooms and having to escape.
Weird right? I’ve escape from countless basements and tight spaces across Europe, but I’m not talking about that time with the German cannibal, or the hostel where things took a turn for the worse- no- I’m talking about Escape Room Games, the role playing craze that has swept across the world in a fury of confined rooms and elaborate puzzles. In Zagreb, I was locked in a science lab while Zombies clawed at the doors, and I had one hour to find a vaccine and to escape.
I’ve been making it a habit to seek out Escape Room Games in the cities I’ve been visiting on my travels. I escaped the elaborate Enigmarium in Ljubljana, an horrific children’s nursery in Reykjavik and a communist prison cell in Bucharest. In Croatia’s vibrant capital, I visited Roomescape Zagreb, one of the latest additions to the European escape scene, and I shut myself into the Zombie Lab.
As is standard practice with these live games, I left my phone and cameras behind as the door slammed shut. There would be no pictures, no communication, but that just meant less distractions. It was just me and my one escape room companion. A team of two, and we would be up against the odds with such low numbers to take on the puzzles.
As soon as the door closed, the surveillance screens on the wall showed that the zombies were clawing their way towards us. We were no longer in Zagreb, but in a Russian laboratory, in the middle of nowhere, and the clock was counting down. We had to find a vaccine amongst the mess of experiments, data and chemistry equipment that littered the room. The rest of the scientists were lost. And we were next in line to be zombified.
Renata, the entrepreneurial co-founder of Roomescape Zagreb told me that the inspiration for the business came from a visit to a similar game in Novi Sad, Serbia. “It was love at first sight!” she exclaims. Renata and her husband met the owners of the game, “…and they were so in love with the business that I wanted some of that to myself. I quit my job and started Roomescape Zagreb“. Renata demonstrates the passion that goes into making these games so absorbing. And anyone who’s ever been absorbed in a game, in which ever city they are in, will know how they can engulf you, how addictive the success or even failure of the puzzles and the stories you throw yourself into can become.
The room was high tech. We ran experiments and numbers through computers and hunted for clues and information that would lead us to the cure. Step by step we broke down the puzzles, painstakingly working our way through the chain of events that had unfolded before us, to put together the zombie vaccine we needed to live.
Then there came screaming. This was too real. There was a horrible banging on the doors and the windows. The lights were off. I didn’t know what was going to come bursting through those doors when the clock ran down to zero, but I didn’t want to be around still to witness it.
This spurred us both on. It wasn’t real, but it was. And we frantically rushed around the room, over turning everything and looking into anything that could be linked to our escape, no matter how tenuous.
Roomescape Zagreb opened in September 2014, and a year and a half later, Renata says they are “doing great so far”. Having been immersed in the game myself I can see why. The details are intricate and the atmosphere intense. She says that around “60% of players manage to escape”, but only 1% with no help at all. And of those that fail, many will come back again to try and escape. Even some who have successfully escaped return to try and get out quicker.
Renata believes that the main attraction for Escape Games, is the fact that “We all grew up watching secret agents, cool guys, heroes and wanted to become one of them”, and the games give you that chance, a chance to not only escape the room, but to win and become part of a story.
In the zombie lab we finally did it, with a few minutes to spare as well, and we cracked everything, and the clues and puzzles all fell into place while the zombies were clawing at the windows. We found the vaccine, and the door to the real world opened.
If you fancy getting locked in a Zombie Lab too, then have a look at the Roomescape Zagreb website HERE.
Images in this article supplied by Roomescape Zagreb!
I’ve heard about escape room games before, but never tried it yet. I have to admit it sounds tempting. The adrenaline, the suspense. Where else in Europe did you do it? Sounds really fun 🙂
It’s great fun. I’ve played in Budapest, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Bucharest so far!
This sounds like so much fun! It’s like a haunted house meets Pandemic. What is the average cost of escape room games? Sounds like a good way to spend a day while we’re resting in a city.
A great way to spend the day! It varies depending on the city/game but roughly in Europe they tend to cost anywhere around 30 Euros for the room. The more players you have the cheaper it is per person though!
Nope nope and nope… 😀 I wouldn’t be able to do this…I’m such a scaredy cat!
It’s not that scary Rachael…!
Wow, this is so cool. But also scary. Not sure I would do it, I am such a wimp.^^
Haha it’s worth the terror!
Just reading your review gave me the chills…I get spooked so easily, this would be a nightmare for me!
Scary stuff, but lots of fun!
Great article! Quite honestly, I would be scared out of my wits and hesitant to attempt this. Is the Escape Room experience free?
Unfortunately you have to pay for the room. The more people you have though the cheaper it is per person.
There’s an escape room in my home city but I’ve never tried it (or anywhere else!). It sounds like such a fun thing to do and actually a great way to meet locals if you’re traveling since it’s not just a touristy option.
You should try the one in your home city! Honestly you won’t be disappointed!
Omg this sounds terrifying. Even though it is a game I think I would probably be useless knowing that time was running out. We went in a haunted house in Italy with a Freddy Kruger and I swear I was hiding behind the kids!
Haha it is definitely not for the faint hearted.
This sound awesome. I’ve heard about these but have never heard a personal account of what they are like. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thanks Susan, you should give one a try!
I’ve also heard of escape room games but have never tried them. I do love most any games and have enjoyed treasure hunts, so perhaps this may be next. It would also be an interesting experience to recall your travels in another destination.
If you love treasure hunts then you’ll love these escape games Vicki!
Good grief, what next? Amazing!
All sorts of crazy things are coming next Roy!
We have developed an outdoor escape game activity. We are in France, in Occitanie.
Very interesting article about cool country.
But I know that in Croatia, 100% of the population has access to electricity. Croatia has 69 airports nationwide. There are 729,420 internet hosts in Croatia. The number of road motor vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in Croatia is 532.