Sometimes entertainment looks curiously like a situation you’d rather not be a part of. Take apple picking: Depending on the circumstances, it’s either a picturesque family outing or a back-breaking slog. Most of us would only jump out of a plane in the event that staying on it would be unhealthy, but a select few can’t wait to prematurely depart a perfectly functional aircraft. That, reader, is called skydiving. In that vein, being stuck in a room with nothing to do but try to find a way out may sound like a dreadful Count of Monte Cristo scenario, or at best a trip to the principal’s office, but it can be a regular hoot and a holler if you do it at Escape House Fargo.
An escape room is a giant and carefully devised interactive puzzle, not wholly unlike what you would see in a video game. While everything in the room might appear ordinary at first, a quick root around it will yield clues and odd items which, if utilized cleverly, will reveal the way out before an hour has passed. That time limit is the key, as it adds a heart-pounding urgency to the thing. Running around with friends trying frantically to figure out the series of tricks that’ll end the challenge before the clock runs out is positively riveting, and a way to interact with friends and family like you could never hope to experience in any other way.
“I believe the atmosphere plays a huge part in a room escape,” said Mike Webb, who along with his fiancée Belinda Schilling owns and runs Escape House Fargo. “Feeling like you’re part of a story gives you great stakes in its outcome, and it also makes the whole experience feel more natural.”
Escape House Fargo has three puzzle room themes. In Nana’s Condo, you play the part of a private investigator in the employ of Nana herself, an old lady in a retirement home who rightly harbors suspicions that her children are after her three prized possessions. If you manage to retrieve them all you’ll be rewarded with Nana’s entire inheritance — but, as luck would have it, her late husband was a crafty inventor whose contraptions still guard the treasures. In Flood the City you’re a secret agent, much like you might be in real life unbeknownst to everyone around you, charged with the pressing task of preventing a terrorist’s bomb from leveling a dam and annihilating the nearby city in a deluge. In Detective’s Office you must fittingly ransack a detective’s office, looking for evidence that would exonerate three of the four said detective’s suspected killers. Innocent lives are on the line here.
Escape House Fargo has got duplicate Nana’s Condo and Flood the City rooms, so your party may split into two groups and compete to see which can get nearest to the solution — they’re unique among escape room businesses in the area because of that. Whether you’ve a big enough party to split up or are only going with a friend or a date is of no matter, because an escape room is great fun no matter how you slice it.
“Creating puzzles that are tricky without being unfair is a delicate balancing act,” said Belinda. “Each of our rooms has a lot of details that capture our guests’ attention, but not so much so that they’re overwhelming. We also have resident game masters who will give our guests a hint when they get stuck, just subtle enough to heat up the action again without giving too much away. If they’d like it, we’ll even give our guests the little extra time they need to get to the finish.”
“Escape rooms are unlike any other form of entertainment out there,” added Mike. “The level of action, group dynamics, and feeling that you’re part of a story combine to make them truly unique. You’re never going to get this feeling sitting in front of a screen.”
To learn more about Escape House Fargo, visit escapehousefargo.com.
By David Scheller