3 November 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Halloween-themed night out at Lost Escape room, Kaunas

As Halloween approached, Edvinas (the Lithuanian buddy who has earned himself the title of social prefect for the Digital Explorers' buddy group) suggested that we attend a scary escape room in the spirit of the season. In the course of the next few days, I and four other explorers/buddies signed up to join Edvinas at 9pm on the Friday after Halloween on a trip to a Kaunas escape room which he had learned was English-speaker compatible 😁.

There was no reason to say no really, as apart from being new here, I also live alone in my flat. Hence, I'll say yes to almost every opportunity to socialize and spend leisure time with other people. The only cases where I would be prone to saying no are when the event interferes with my night's sleep and the activity is not something I'm sure to find exciting. Also, it was a public holiday - All Saints Day and I did not exactly have other plans for that day.

On Friday evening, after spending some time chit-chatting at Kennedy's place, I and the rest of the crew were ferried in two batches to the rather creepy (isolated and dark) location of Lost Escape, Kaunas in Laura's red salon car. In less than five minutes, I and the other people in the first batch arrived the building; the only light coming out of it being from a window on the topmost floor where a young man stood alone. Earlier at Kennedy's place, we had joked about how many back home might consider us insane for voluntarily inserting ourselves into a horror-movie scene. "After all the Oyinbo horror movies you've watched, you still haven't learned anything"?

We climbed three flights of stairs to the topmost floor of the building where the young man who had been at the window welcomed us from behind the lobby desk where he stood. While going up the stairs, Edvinas showed us the door to the Pjūklas (Saw movie themed) escape room which was the one that we'd selected (it fit the scariness bill).

Source: Lost Escape Kaunas website

As we waited for Laura and the second batch to arrive the comfy reception room, the reception guy asked to know which of the 4 available escape rooms that we'd selected. On hearing "Pjūklas", he went on to ask if any of us had been in an escape room before. Out of the six of us, only Laura and Edvinas (the two Lithuanians in the group) had ever been to one. Solving an escape room was a first time thing for any of us Digital explorers - who comprised the rest of the group.

The attendant went on to advise us to reconsider our choice of Pjūklas as it happens to be the most difficult room. It made sense that as a group which has 4 out of 6 members as escape-room noobs, we do not choose the most difficult room. After a short consultation between each other, we decided to go for the ancient-Egypt themed "Faraono Prakeiksmas" (Pharaoh's curse) room instead.

A few minutes to 21:00, shortly after the arrival of the second batch (and us watching another group celebrate their escape from the most difficult Pjūklas room in only 63 minutes), we were invited to a closed room for a briefing by the attendant. He gave us a few tips and basic information which include:
  • the time limit of 60 minutes
  • not to brute force our way through any obstacle
  • every clue/key that we needed being within eye level 
  • how to identify escape room artefacts that are not to be touched
  • how to opt-out of the challenge
The briefing took less than 5 minutes and then in we went into the Pharaoh's cursed tomb. This is the part where I go into every detail of our progression through the several sections of this room. Except that I am experienced enough to know how easily that can be interpreted as a contemptible move, both by the Lost Escape establishment and for other people looking to buy this experience in the future.

L-R: Defeated Explorer Mofe, Buddy Laura, Buddy Edvinas, Explorer Hafiz, Explorer Kennedy and Explorer Godsman
It is sad to say though that despite our best efforts, my group of 6 lost what was meant to be the easiest escape room of the lot. We managed to finish in 71 minutes (instead of the designated 60). And I doubt that we would have made it out of the room in even twice that amount of time without the - at least 6 - hints we received from an invisible voice in the room. 

Of course, to keep us challenged, these hints came only at the times when it was obvious from our lack of progress for minutes at a time that we had hit a bottleneck. It would be nice to know the percentage of groups that actually manage to escape from the Faraono Prakeiksmas room with absolutely no hints. The hints from the hidden voice ranged from it asking us to direct attention to something in particular, to letting us know that we needed to be accurate with a specific puzzle we had struggled with for like 5 minutes.

As the final exit of the escape room popped open, indicating our losing escape, we were welcomed back to the real world by a young lady who had apparently taken over from the guy who led us in. She led us back into the escape room to take a few questions from us after which she offered to take a group picture of us in the section of the escape room where we were stuck the longest.

With the rest of the group in seemingly high spirits from the adventure we all just mutually experienced, I left the escape room feeling rather incompetent and deflated as I couldn't help but ruminate over how useless I was to my group in the escape room. Looking in, I guess my disappointment stems from me expecting that many of the ideas to decode the puzzles in the room would come from me. Unfortunately, that did not happen as save for one or two minor ideas, my main contribution to the group was as a mere artefact transporter 😔😢😔.

Even in hindsight, I don't see how I could have arrived at the breakthrough ideas in the record time (if ever) that some members of the group did. Reminds me of how getting into university made me realize that I'm not as absolutely smart as previous stages of education had made me believe.

What my visit to the Kaunas Lost Escape room did to my ego

Around 22:30, as Laura drove our group of 6 away from the creepy area that the Lost Escape building calls home, past the nearby cemetery which looked ethereally beautiful in the dark and cold night (the graves had been adorned with thousands of candles by the ones left behind in the spirit of the Lithuanian All Saints Day), we considered taking a walk through the cemetery to wrap up our Friday night. While I and a few other members of the group were up for it, for Laura, this was too much of a creepy thing to do in the dead of night, so she generously drove us right past the cemetery 😭 and on to each of our homes.

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