I had a notification in my email from the Treasure League (a local group that hosts monthly puzzle based treasure hunting events) that they were creating an escape room experience inside an actual library. The generous size of the Fish Creek Public Library allowed for their cap of 200 players (where signup sold out in the first week) to all play simultaneously. The goal is to escape within the 90 min time limit. It’s mostly a competition for the better time as it doesn’t end with just one team finishing first. Plus it had refreshments and cookies! The CEO (and MC for the night) was awesome. Very friendly and positive and definitely won the crowd over. The puzzles were well made, utilizing elements that were already in the library without adding additional items for clues (for the most part). Now there was one HUGE time waster in the first set of puzzles as it was a whole paragraph that was required to be deciphered as opposed to the usual line or two. It also seemed every team had the same set of puzzles. Despite having such a huge space, they could’ve had two or three different sets of puzzles to send people to different areas of the library to begin with. One puzzle in particular required the use of signing in with a library membership, which no one on our team had! Bad! Bad puzzle maker! We were able to bypass it though as some people don’t whisper very quietly. Out of all the employees that were working there, only two were fully versed enough to be able to help you if you required a hint. Staff would blow a whistle and they would come (eventually) to your aid. Though, this did eat up time if you’re waiting around, which we decided not to do cause it happen too quickly. Having the same puzzles meant there was a general pace that everyone seemed to match for the most part, that lead to a lot of bottle-necking, especially in the last few parts of the game. People had to essentially line up and wait for each team to be assessed to pass into different areas, or in an area where each team could only participate one at a time. They gave everyone a 15 min extension after the initial 90 mins had passed, which we needed an extra minute due to the bottlenecking. We ended up being the 4th team completing the “room” with just two of us, a friend of mine (who had only done three rooms) and his 10 year-old kid, which is pretty darn good I’d think. This event will be held again at a later time they had mentioned.
This event was put on in partnership with the Calgary Public Library Foundation and Treasure League. It was definitely different than your regular escape room too. I found it was more of a mix of a scavenger hunt and escape room. Then add in the fact you are playing at the same time as 55 other teams. Most of the puzzles were relatively straightforward. However, I did find a lot of this event frustrating for many reasons. First off, the first puzzle we encountered was a HUGE time waster, requiring two of our team members and 20 minutes to solve it. It wasn’t difficult by any means, just insanely time consuming. Then from there, we encountered many different bottlenecks. We got stuck behind other teams multiple times as we were all waiting for the same things at times (eg. to show our solved clues to a game master to proceed). Another puzzle required us to have a library membership, which none of our team members had so we unfortunately lost a lot of time. I thought this was a bit of an unfair requirement. Despite all these setbacks, we were able to escape in 4th place. There sadly was no prize at the end, and finishing was pretty anti-climactic. The volunteer at the end said good job, and that was that. All in all, this was an interesting first attempt at an event such as this. I do feel that more preparation and modification to some of the puzzles would improve this greatly though. Especially maybe changing up the progression for different teams so that 200 people are not on the same puzzles all at once. I’m glad I got to try this out, I might just end up sticking to my good ol’ traditional escape rooms though.
- Based and themed in an actual library
- Competitive with other teams
- Same puzzles for all teams
- Unspecified puzzle requirement for library membership
- Bottlenecking for certain areas