Challenging, immersive, and sometimes thrilling, escape rooms have captured the public’s imagination over the last decade or so.
If you’ve never played one, then here’s a quick description: players are locked in a room and must solve a series of puzzles and clues to escape within a set amount of time. The room may take on a particular theme, varying from horror and suspense to adventure and mystery.
The game’s popularity has led to thousands of escape rooms popping up all over the world, yet one room has earned international recognition by being voted the best escape room in the world by a panel of experts.
But just what made this particular challenge so special, and why are people so keen to play it?
Lockhill, Athens: The world’s number 1
Greece may not be the first place you think of when it comes to escape rooms. The Mediterranean country’s rich history does lend itself to various online games: you don’t have to go very far to find an Ancient Greece-themed Gates of Olympus demo, for example, or a video game set in the time of the Spartans.
Yet to think of people locked away in a dark room when they have the fabulous Greek outdoor lifestyle is a little strange. Lockhill, the Athens-based escape room that scooped the award, got round this by offering players a truly unique sensory thrill.
Described as an atmospheric experience that revolves around its horror theme and story, the game is constructed with attention to detail in the lighting, music, decoration, and storytelling to fully immerse players in the experience.
The story unfolds slowly over multiple visits to different locations and rooms, with clues and puzzles piecing together the overall plot. Each room is of the team’s own creation, making the game a unique and exciting challenge.
Lockhill is different from other escape rooms as the story is not just pasted onto the game but woven throughout, making it feel like an adventure game. Online reviews describe it as having “jaw-dropping décor” and an “awesome script”; one contributor even called it “by far the best event they’ve ever experienced.”
However, it may be that horror isn’t to your liking. After all, such an engrossing escape room may be a little overwhelming if you have sinister characters and gory special effects involved.
Fortunately, there’s a wide range of escape room themes to check out.
3 other top (non-horror) escape rooms
The Top Escape Rooms Project offers a specialized look at some of the very best escape rooms out there. Their team of experts assesses several features, including “thrill factors”, location, and price to come up with recommendations for their readers.
While Lockhill tops their list as the best room in the world, here are three other top choices that the project features.
Molly’s Game – Voorburg, Netherlands
The Molly’s Game escape room offers an exciting experience inspired by the popular Hollywood film. The room features an elaborate silver screen design, with players working together to solve puzzles and clues within the given time frame.
It demands logical thinking, attention to detail, and teamwork that keeps participants engaged and entertained.
Offering a well-crafted storyline and clever puzzles, the Molly’s Game escape room is an excellent choice for groups seeking thrilling adventure in the Netherlands.
The Dome – Bunshoten, Netherlands
Another Dutch offering, The Dome escape room is an exhilarating experience that transports players into an alternate universe.
Once there, they experience cutting-edge technology and special effects as they attempt to solve complex puzzles and overcome physical obstacles to escape within the allotted time frame.
The Dome’s engaging storyline completely won over one reviewer who had this to say:
“If I get to 2500 rooms and The Dome is not still my number 1, the world will likely have fallen off its axis. It’s not that I don’t want to play a better game, but I’m not convinced it’s possible.”
High praise indeed.
Birth Machine – Milan, Italy
Perhaps one of the most unusual rooms you’ll ever experience, the Birth Machine is designed to simulate experiencing your own birth from the perspective of the baby…in a cozy motel room.
Despite this weird-sounding premise, reviewers praise the creativity and execution of the theme, as well as the soundtrack, set design, and puzzles. They mention that Mad Machines has not received as much attention as they deserve, possibly due to the limited escape room market in Italy.
Whether you’d like to re-experience your birth is another question, but people who have seem to like it.
So, what does a world-class escape room look like? Well, looking at the above examples it seems the room needs to be more mentally stimulating than physically thrilling. As humans, we love to work as a team to get out of problematic situations rather than be scared out of our wits all the time.
Escape rooms that can present problem-solving exercises skilfully, with a surprise or two thrown in, are those that seem to do the best.