The Great Escape

The international craze of real-life escape rooms has captivated Athens and many of its visitors.


The future of gaming is looking bright, so much so that you don’t even need a console to play the newest trend popping up around the globe. In real-life room escape games, you and your friends are the protagonists. Locked in a strange location for an hour, your challenge is to solve the mystery and escape. Padlocks, puzzles and clues scattered are the obstacles and opportunities you face. A good gamer should be quick, a team player and inquisitive. And, of course, you need to be patient as you never know how close to the solution you may be.

Some rooms mainly require thought, others speed and teamwork, while many require the use of all the senses in order to escape from them. The game settings can vary: it could be a Russian agent’s home, a forest or a strange laboratory. You may have to solve a crime, steal as much as you can carry from a bank or burst out of a prison cell. If you fail in your objective and haven’t solved the mystery within the allocated time, the game masters will reveal everything to you.

TripAdvisor has placed one local escape room, Athens Clue, at the top of the list of things to do in Athens. So how does an interactive game end up outranking the Acropolis Museum? Owner Cleo Kalamaki explains: “It’s a very interesting way to take a break from visiting archaeological sites. It’s exciting and gives you an adrenaline rush without, of course, there being any real danger.” As one customer recently told her after his escape: “It’s so stressful that it makes you forget your anxieties!”

The inspiration for this huge trend was an escape room built about 4.5 years ago by a Japanese man in Singapore, initially as a team-building exercise. Before long, the craze had spread throughout Asia and the USA, before reaching Europe, where Hungary leads the way in escape rooms with over 100 companies offering games in Budapest alone. Greece has also carved out a place for itself on the map, with escape rooms to be found in many parts of the country. Athens already has over 35.

The relationships you build with your fellow players are among the the best thing to emerge from the 60 minutes in the escape rooms. As Victoria, an employee of Greece-based Adventure Rooms, explains: “Everyone gets a role. No matter how close you are, under these circumstances you learn things about each other that you never knew. Characters are revealed. There is always someone who searches, someone who sits in a corner giving instructions, someone worried about the clock ticking and someone who breaks things accidentally. I’ve seen couples who went in arm in arm come out fighting, and others who were indifferent to each other emerge as if they were on their honeymoon: ‘Oh darling, it was amazing how you found that thing that unlocked the other thing!’”

The escape rooms have been the scene for many surprise birthday parties and wedding proposals. When you’re looking for a murderer, there’s nothing better than finding an engagement ring and for your partner to tell you: “If you refuse, I’ll never let you out of here!”

Yes, that’s a true story!

GREAT ESCAPE
Housed in a 1940s building reminiscent of a friendly motel, Great Escape’s four rooms – of varying difficulty levels – have put this company top of its category on TripAdvisor. In a successful family effort, cousins Yiannis and Vassilis designed the puzzles and the rooms entirely by themselves. They also tend to hang out with the last of the day’s players, chatting on the couch in the reception area until late at night.

Tip:

Ask about the prizes of the month, as top scorers can win goodies ranging from a free game up to a trip.

INFO

• 12 Lepeniotou, Psyrri, • Tel. (+30) 213.035.4432. • 2–6 persons, €10–19 per person, depending on the number of participants. •  For reservations and more information visit the website.

ATHENS CLUE
The offices of CSI, the rooms of missing children, the Vatican … the company that brought the escape rooms concept to Greece is expanding, with many exciting games of 50, 60 and 70 minutes’ duration for the more experienced.

Tip:

Zombies are coming … actually, they live right next to you. In Zombieland – an augmented reality” room – it’s kill or be killed. This high-tech device will make you feel just like a video game hero. You can see your life reduce after each blow and drop of blood spilled, either theirs or yours. This room is only available at the Glyfada branch.

INFO

• Hilton area: 11 Diocharous and Ionos Dragoumi; Syntagma area: 26 Vasilissis Amalias; Glyfada: 3 Xanthou. • Tel. (+30) 210.321.1121 • 2–6 persons, €10–20 per person, depending on the number of participants. • For reservations and more information visit the website.

ADVENTURE ROOMS
Here they love James Wan’s Saw movies, so the concept plays with the senses and psychology, with no one actually getting hurt, of course. One characteristic of these rooms is that the players are handcuffed at the start of most games.

Tip:

In the Original Game, a crazy, bipolar scientist has left clues for you to escape from his lab. His bad side, however, wants to turn you into guinea pigs for his experiments. In this game you can split into two teams and play competitively.

 

INFO

• 2 Kakourgodikiou and Athenas, Monastiraki. Tel. (+30) 211.012.4729.    
• 17 Haimanta and Platonos, Halandri. Tel. (+30) 210.689.5616. • 2–6 persons, €10–20 per person, depending on the number of participants. • For reservations and more information visit the website.


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