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Escape room offers thrills and thinks — even for those who lose

By Emily Porter

Determination, persistence and mental agility are all put to the test at Locked Manhattan, an escape room challenge located in downtown.

    The Manhattan Mercury interns — Tim, Gabby and I — tried “Witching Hour,” a room designed for groups of four to six players who try to figure out the secret of an accused witch by breaking into her cabin for one hour. The rooms are set up with a series of puzzles, with each solution leading to the next hint.

    Currently, Locked has three rooms open for play: “The Witching Hour,” “The Dinner Party” and “Honor Among Thieves,” and the company has more rooms in development.

    Co-owner Cortney Ley walked us through the rules and told us more backstory before the game began, and she was also available to us throughout the game via microphone to give us hints if needed.

    We definitely needed those hints. There is a reason these rooms have such low escape rates. Honestly, do not be afraid to ask for help and use the hints.

    Our trio got off to a slow start, but the room was designed well and seemed authentic to what you might expect a witch’s cabin to look like, ignoring the air conditioning unit. We combed the room for clues and ended up getting a few puzzles figured out before we begged for help.

    Ley was very good at dispensing help and even told us when we were on the right track. She was very personable and seemed to enjoy her job, chatting with us before and after the game ended.

    Ultimately, we lost. We were one puzzle short of getting out of the room.   

    We had our picture taken with a whiteboard saying we lost, and Ley put it on the website and social media for all to see. However, it was some of the most fun losing I think I have ever had. We worked well together, had some laughs while our adrenaline was pumping, and we were encouraging each other to keep going and try again.

    For college students, the experience may seem a little pricey. For groups of three or more, it is about $21 per person, in addition to tax and fees.

    However, it is a different way to spend time with friends than dinner or going out drinking for the evening.

    To experience the adventure, visitors can make appointments through the website, I highly recommend it, which is saying something, as I normally recommend staying inside watching movies all day.

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