*Escape Reality

I completely forgot what Cardiff is like on a Saturday night.  To be fair, I think the last time I went “out” in Cardiff you could still drive down St Mary’s Street and Oceana was still around.  Ho yes, it’s been a while.  But this time, instead of the whole drinks, drunk-dancing, dirty burger routine we opted for something a little bit different.  We dodged the crowds ducking down Caroline Street and decided to Escape Reality instead.

I’d heard of the whole escape room thing before – in fact they’re so popular that there are now four different companies in Cardiff alone – but I’d never tried it.  (If you’re new to the concept the idea is to team up with up to 5 other friends, family or coworkers, get locked in a room and then work together to solve a series of themed clues in order to “escape”)  So when Escape Reality got in touch and asked if I’d like to give it a try, I said “yes please!” and dragged my brother, his girlfriend and the hubs along for an early Halloween night out. 🙂

Tucked away on St John Street (opposite Burger King and Owain Glyndwr) you’d walk straight past the entrance if you didn’t know it was there.  A sign beside a door leading to a dark staircase is the only hint at what lurks upstairs.  We walked through that door clueless as to what to expect – especially as none of us had ever tried an escape game before – and the reception and bar area wasn’t exactly forthcoming as to what was in store!  No glossy promotional snaps, just black walls and bar stools, and a leader board of team pictures on the far wall.
We were a bit early, so we took a seat in the bar with a drink while one of the girls explained how the game worked.  We’d be locked in the room of our choice (there are six to choose from, all with different difficulty ratings and background stories; from Saw-themed “Enigmista”, to “The Heist”) and we’d have one hour to solve all eight clues and crack the door code to escape.  We were given torches and an iPad which we’d be able to use to get hints and solutions if we got stuck (with a time penalty for each one used, obviously!).

…I don’t want to give away the story behind the room or any of the clues we had to solve and spoil the surprise – but we did escape… only just!  For the first 10 minutes we completely ignored the first hint and turned the whole room upside down snooping in cupboards and drawers with our torches.  I had no idea how interactive and atmospheric it was going to be – and that solving clues might mechanically open boxes and unlock doors etc.  It kind of reminded me of the Crystal Maze or Fort Boyard.  Once our time began to run down and we’d sort of worked out the whole process of solving clues, we got really into it and raced around the room shouting at each other as we desperately tried to solve each clue and quickly move onto the next one!  As soon as we cracked the final clue and got out with seconds to spare we were a bit bummed that it was over and all wanted to try another room 🙂

If you’re looking for Halloween night out with a difference, then I’d definitely recommend trying out Escape Reality.  There’s a room to suit everyone, from difficult to easy and from horror to heists.  It’s great fun, and as soon as you’ve escaped you’ll want to be locked back up again 🙂

(Psst! I’ve just noticed via Twitter that you can get a 20% discount on your booking between the 28th and 30th of October if you add the code HALLOW20 at the checkout. PLUS, if you turn up in costume, you get a free drink at the bar. Happy Halloween!)

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