BY AMY ALLEN
This is your mission, should you choose to accept it: solve a series of puzzles and escape a locked room, with nothing but a walkie talkie, your wits, and possibly a flashlight to help you. Sound like your idea of a great night out? You’re not alone. The escape room phenomenon has exploded in popularity across North America in the past few years. Here, we highlight six escape adventures Ottawa has to offer — just in time for Halloween.
Join forces with your friends to escape The Prison, The Wine Cellar, The Asylum, and The Darkness. A limited edition fifth room, Apocalypse, challenges players to find the cure to a zombie outbreak. The owners have gone to great lengths to make it a cozy place to hang out before and after your escape experience: they’ve acquired a liquor licence, and the lounge is stocked with an assortment of brain-teasing games. The first four rooms can accommodate up to six players, while Apocalypse accommodates up to 12. The time limit is 45 minutes. $21 per person. 201 Queen St., 613-695-1655, escapemanor.com.
ROOM ESCAPE OTTAWA
At these escape rooms in the south end, each room has more than one area to explore, and in the future, the owners say, some will even have multiple floors. In its first offering, The Boom Room, you must try to defuse a bomb set by a terrorist. Its second room, Serial Killer Charade, is due to open sometime in November. And after you’ve escaped, stick around to challenge your friends to some more competition — Archery Games, which can be best described as dodgeball with arrows, is housed in the same building. Rooms can accommodate between two and eight players. The time limit is one hour. $20 per person. 1860 Bank St., Unit 3B, 613-523-2282, roomescapeottawa.com.
JIGSAW ESCAPE ROOMS
The owners welcome groups of up to six to their two themed rooms, The Cabin and CSI: The Study. Their third room, The Heist, is set to open in the near future. Snacks are on hand in case you get the munchies before or after your escape, and there’s also a chest full of props you can use for your post-lockup photo shoot. The time limit is 45 minutes. $20 per person. 122 Clarence St., Unit 201, 613-422-6542, jigsawescape.com.
This Hintonburg escape experience currently offers four themed rooms: The Bunker, The Hostel, The Laboratory, and The Gallery. On October 31, the owner is giving away a grand prize to the team that pulls off the fastest escape — plus additional perks for teams that show up in costume! Each room accommodates between two and six players. The time limit is one hour. $75 flat fee on weekdays; $90 on weekends. 984 Wellington St. W., 613-899-5170, claustrophobiagame.ca.
The themes at this Wellington West location are wildly diverse: You can either attempt a rescue in remote Nevada in Area 51, or use your wits to escape from a vintage toy and technology overload in Toys. Two more rooms are scheduled to open in the coming months. Each room accommodates up to six players, although the owners say four is the magic number. $25 per person. 340A Parkdale Ave., 613-805-5625, lockdownottawa.ca.
TICK TOCK ESCAPE ROOMS
Tick Tock currently offers two themed rooms, The Hangover and The Vacancy, with a third, The Heist, on the way. The common room is decorated like a turn of the century salon, complete with bookshelves, vintage pictures, Victorian couches, and — fittingly — a clock prominently displayed. Puzzles are available to play with while you await your turn. The time limit is 45 minutes. $20 per person. 139 Bank St., Unit 200, 613-462-7733, ticktock-escape.com.