For those seeking thrills and a new kind of night out, Escape Room Athens is a new entertainment business in town.

1005 E. State St. doesn’t look like much. Next to the Knights Inn and across the street from the Athena Grand, the building looks like a typical office space. Part of that space is now occupied by an errie new business customers pay to escape.

Escape Room Athens, a live-action puzzle game in which participants have 45 minutes to solve puzzles, riddles and clues to escape a locked room, opened last week.

The entertainment endeavor became operational April 4 after construction difficulties pushed back the original April 1 opening. The first group went through April 8, and since then, more than 100 people have tried to escape the room, according to owner Daniel Hutchison.

Mackenzie Schoenherr, a freshman studying journalism, was one of those 100. Schoenherr said she always wanted to do an escape room and thought it was really cool there is now one near campus.

Hutchison also owns the Chamber Escape Room in Columbus, which opened last May.

The Athens room has the same theme setup as the Columbus room, but Hutchison is already working on a new themed room for the Athens location to open in about a month.

Colin Twarek, a freshman studying actuarial sciences, escaped the room and said he would definitely go through a new room when it opens.

Hutchison said there is a 50 percent success rate of people escaping, and those who make it out usually do so with less than five minutes remaining.

“(Escaping is) definitely not impossible, but it takes a little bit of brain work,” Hutchison said.

Escaping involves searching the room for hidden numbers, codes and objects that unlock or uncover tricks, padlocks, safes and doors. All the clues eventually lead to the final key to unlock the exit door.

“It’s like being in a real-life video game where you don’t have a controller. You’re not controlling somebody on a TV monitor — you’re actually in the game,” Hutchison said. “You’re opening up things. You’re solving these puzzles, solving that puzzle, and people find that really exciting. There’s nothing like it.”

Schoenherr said the beginning of the game was really overwhelming because of the large volume of clues found right away.

“I think … it was designed to at first overwhelm you and then at the end you’re like, ‘Oh, everything falls into place now,’ ” she said.

Hutchison said a big misconception people have about the escape room is that it’s like a haunted house.

“There’s nobody chasing you with a chainsaw or anything like that,” he said, though the room’s fictional backstory does involve a serial killer.

Schoenherr said she experienced a mix of emotions in the room.

“It was scary,” she said. “At points you were like, ‘Oh crap I’m about to die,’ but then, like, other times it was funny.”

Twarek and Schoenherr both said the most important keys are problem solving and working as a team.

Twarek said he’d love to see his family — many members of which he said like to be control freaks — try to work together to escape.

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“Group size isn’t so important on whether or not you make it out. It’s how much you communicate,” Hutchison said. “I’ve seen groups of two make it out. I’ve seen groups of 10 fail.”

Groups of up to 10 people can go through the room, Hutchison said. Tickets cost $29 on weekdays and $32 on weekends, according to the website.

“When all the twists and turns happen, you’re going to need everyone’s support to get out of the room,” Schoenherr said.


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