First things first: despite the name, you will not die if you fail to escape in time at Escape or Die. Though Evan Raif, the creator and head of Escape or Die, says people have definitely called up asking just that. And having worked our way through the escape room, the great storytelling means that there are definitely moments where you feel like your life is in peril.
Escape or Die pitches itself as a little different to your average escape room, but the core concept is the same. Your team enters a room and you have a set amount of time to escape from said room by solving puzzles. Where Escape or Die differs is in how it’s more story-based, and your ability to follow the story plays a big role in your success.
The premise of the room is that you and your mates are new employees at a haunted house, and you’ve just started your first day of work. What first appears as a delightfully hammy attraction, however, soon becomes increasingly sinister as you realise all is not right with the haunted house’s staff. There are quite a few video interludes between puzzles (think of them like cutscenes in a video game) which really do place you right in the narrative, thanks to some clever techniques featuring pre-recorded audio and video. The videos are varied too, switching from advertisements to found footage to quirky (yet disturbing) animations.
Escape or Die doesn’t have the hardest puzzles we’ve encountered, but they are creative and require a healthy dose of lateral thinking – and some teamwork – to solve. Again, you’ll be rewarded for paying attention to tiny details and for not disregarding items at face value. We loved the fact that while the game starts out pretty normal and unthreatening, by the time you enter the second room there’s absolutely no time for chit chat as you race to escape from what might be the goriest escape room we’ve tried. At times we had to remind ourselves “it’s only a game, it’s not real, it’s only a game.”
Creativity of puzzles: 4/5
Best quote: "I think he just blew his eye out... and presumably his brain."
Our tip: Pay special attention to the story – even when things get a little hairy. Doing so might just save your skin.