I spent much of Saturday trying to escape Richmond, but not in the usual way – this time, I was locked in an Egyptian tomb. And then a prison. And each time, I couldn’t get out.

I had heard about this thing called EXIT on Twitter a while back, and after sharing it amongst my friends it was decided that a group of former co-workers and special guest stars would try it out on February 1st. Knowing my meat space friends wanted to check it out as well, I arranged for them to join me after the first session was done so we could all do a new one together, because I am excellent at planning things and such.

Even after reading the website and reviews thoroughly, none of us had any idea what to expect. At the core, EXIT is a video game without the video part. You choose one of four scenarios, get locked in a room, and .. you have to get out. Each available scenario will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s played any kind of first person game: you’re locked in an Egyptian tomb, and need to escape. You’re trapped in a sunken ship and need to reach the surface. You wake up in your prison cell, only to discover you’re all alone. And the last scenario, which I’ve played dozens of times in more games than I can count, is the dark dingy laboratory of untold horrors and inadequate security. While it may sound like something you could handle with your eyes closed, you’ll soon learn otherwise – you’ve only got 45 minutes and up to two hints provided by the staff if when you get stuck. And it’s hard. We got most of the way through Egypt, but only a third through the prison .. and if we want to solve it, we have to go back. Which I want to do. Because it was awesome.

I don’t want to give any secrets away, but if you like puzzles and intrigue I suggest you check out EXIT for yourself. It was really cool (even though we failed spectacularly), and definitely a unique experience – I don’t know of anything else like it that isn’t on a computer or on the Holodeck in the 24th century.

Some tips if you’re interested:

  • There are four scenarios that are updated pretty regularly
  • You get 45 minutes
  • They range in difficulty – from easiest to hardest:
    • The Sunken Ship
    • The Egyptian Tomb
    • The Prison
    • The Laboratory
  • Don’t be afraid to use the hints
  • Each scenario can fit 2-6 people, but four would be an ideal group size (we felt crowded in the prison)
  • If at all possible, find out before you go in (or use a hint) how many digits are expected to open the keypad(s). We wasted WAY too much time in prison trying to figure out which four digits we needed out of the eight we deduced, when in actuality we needed all eight (all the locked doors we’ve ever encountered in the real world, not to mention the tomb, only needed four). This is the only complaint I have about the whole thing, and in the feedback I gave the to the team .. I don’t think we would have escaped the prison even with the time we wasted, but we definitely would have gotten further.
  • You can’t bring anything in the rooms with you, which is why I have no pictures to share. Those sessions were the longest I’ve been separated from my phone since .. well .. ever.
  • It’s $24.change per person which is pricey, but it’s such a neat experience I didn’t mind the cost – I’ve paid more to be locked up, and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining.
  • Even abject failure can be fun!

we make it look so good