Journalism Archive

Awaken at Ottawa’s creepiest escape room

Ramsay Jackson takes a seat in Ottawa’s newest escape room. All photos by Kenneth Ingram.

Allowing yourself to be ‘locked’ in a room, voluntarily, for an hour (or less, if you can find your own way out) may seem like a strange way to beat the winter blues. But if you haven’t tried an escape room, there’s never been a better time in Ottawa.

Twenty-one of them are currently operating in the NCR among nine companies and as one website that reviews escape rooms in Ontario and Quebec aptly states:

“Ottawa is a relative new-comer to the market, but there are some World Class Room Escapes!” whereby Serial Killer Charade is currently ranked among the best.

Inside Serial Killer Charade (no spoilers)

Moments ago, three teammates and I were told that there’s a serial killer on the loose. We ‘awoke’ in a dark, narrow cell that’s illuminated by a small desk lamp as sound plays from a nearby speaker.

Serial Killer Charade 1Eager to find our way out, we quickly sift through objects scattered around the room and our own shadows stir adrenaline. To make matters worse, there’s a large antique doll in a white dress looking at us through steel bars from the adjacent room — and she’s holding a key that’s out of our reach.

“That’s creepy,” says the guy beside me.

What follows over the next hour is plenty of puzzles packed into multiple rooms, as well as cryptic messages, demonic dolls, severed hands, and a lot of fake blood. Each room is designed with a particular feel and as you progress deeper into the game, it gets creepier.

“I’m not going in there [first],” exclaims one of my teammates after we unlock a door later in the game.

“We’re super busy and people are loving it,” says Ramsay Jackson, one of three co-owners of Room Escape Ottawa and the main designer for Serial Killer Charade and The Boom Room.

“We like the rooms to be just challenging enough that people get that sense of pride when they get out. If the room is too easy than people don’t care if they escape.”

While our team ultimately didn’t escape in time (but we were close), Jackson acknowledges that successful escapes are not commonplace.

“The success rate is about 15 to 20 per cent,” he says, adding that between four to eight people are ideal for solving the room.

“With two people, this would be an extremely difficult room. We haven’t seen anybody escape with two.”

After we leave the room, a league is playing Archery Games in a nearby space and Jackson reveals that three additional escape rooms are in the planning stages. The next one is expected to open in May.

Room Escape Ottawa and Archery Games are both located at 1860 Bank Street, Unit 3B. Bookings and additional information is available via their websites. Serial Killer Charade contains mature subject matter that may not be suitable for younger players.

Story originally published by Apt613 on Sat., 23 Jan 2016.

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