‘Escape The Room’: a guide to failing a puzzle

October 27, 2017 — by Jackson Green

Columnist recalls a scary experience at the escape room

“This should be fun.”

That was my first thought as I stood outside of a giant warehouse with a little banner labeled “Omescape” flying outside.

My friend Eric had invited me to an Escape Room in San Jose with four of his family members, where we were supposed to solve many puzzles and escape a series of rooms. I had heard all about these types of experiences and was pretty excited.

My pre-puzzle pep talk was something along the lines of, “I’ve played a few puzzle games, so I should be fine, Right?”


As I walked into the facility, I noticed slightly creepy posters advertising each of the different challenges. One had a biohazard symbol, and another had a rather creepy clown on it that appeared to look up to the Joker as a role model.

I asked Eric’s mom if this was any sort of horror experience. She laughed and told me to relax.

We entered the puzzle with the biohazard poster, known as “Pandemic X.” This was a moderately difficult puzzle.

During the introductory video, the narrating voice told us that a deadly virus infected the majority of the human race, and the key to a cure was within a top-secret lab hidden in the sewers.

The only thing we got was a walkie-talkie to communicate with the staff. They told us we got one hint per room, and there were around five rooms, each with its own puzzle.

Half of us didn’t hear the “per room” part, leading to us having an argument over whether or not we wanted to use our one hint.

A whole bunch of incredibly confusing and difficult puzzles later (let’s just say that we definitely used the one hint per room), we were faced with an incredibly difficult puzzle.

There were a bunch of plastic boxes with plastic bugs in them, and we needed to find the right ones according to the instructions, which were a welcome novelty.

After finding the right bugs, we needed to use images on the other side of the cases to know which buttons to press on a nearby kiosk.

To make matters worse, one person had to do the whole thing blind, with a friend guiding them.

We were failing miserably, until Eric’s mom decided to just press some random buttons at the kiosk. And that somehow gave us exactly what we needed to pass — I guess button-mashing doesn’t only work in fighting games.

At the end of the allotted hour, an employee had to come in and spoon-feed us the answers so that we could actually exit the rooms.

And so, we clocked in 17 minutes over time.

I guess that’s why we ended up naming our team, “Doomed but Determined.”

To all survivors of the deadly virus that we failed to cure in the allotted one hour, I sincerely apologize for dooming you to a life of sitting around in sterile disease bunkers and hope you get a vaccine working soon.