If you and three friends were trapped in a mental hospital and your only hope for escape was to work together, what three friends could you count on?
If the way out could only be divined from hidden clues and the ability of you and your friends to connect them, would your choice in friends stay the same?
You may feel pretty smart right now, but there's only one way to Escape the Quest, and that's by heading to South Beach with your cleverest pals to face one of its three fun, adventurous, and cognitive challenges head on. Do you dare?
First things first, there's nothing intentionally scary about Escape the Quest. Nothing's going to jump out at you. Nothing is there to hurt you. It's just two to four friends getting together, allowing themselves to be locked into a room and given an hour to find the clues and complete the puzzle to get out. It sounds kind of crazy, and it is, but it's also incredibly fun.
Since Escape the Quest's opening in August of 2014, many have tried, but according to on-site manager Yuliya Pashkevich, only about 35 percent of teams escape before time is up.
"Most of them are asking for the clues," Pashkevich said. You can buzz Quest leaders outside for up to three of them, but the limit is more suggestion than set in stone. "We're trying to make them feel happy, because it's not about a competition or something. We're trying to help everybody to get out."
Kids as young as 7 can play Escape the Quest, as long as accompanied by a person 16 years of age or older.
Escape the Quest started in South Beach and has since expanded to locations in Eastern Europe, where the owner is from. Escape the Quest is currently considering and looking for spaces in Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, as well as closer locations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Hollywood.
"We have lots of people that are our regulars, and they've already done all three quests," Pashkevich said. "We want to give them more."
To date, the original location's three quests include Prison Escape, Mental Hospital, and Apartment 101. Prison Escape is the first, their "baby" as Pashkevich says, and starts by splitting friends up into different rooms and can be played while in handcuffs for added effect. It can be the most challenging of the three, though Mental Hospital and Apartment 101 come with their own particular set of difficulties.
We can't give too much away, otherwise, it wouldn't be fun for you, but suffice it to say, your ability to trust and communicate with your partners is the, pun-intended, key. That being said, Escape the Quest is a great bonding experience for family or old friends. It works as a fun alternative to boring corporate team-building exercises. There's really only one group Pashkevich discourages from coming.
"The first date doesn't work, definitely. It's funny for us though," she said. "I would say they would never communicate again, because you know we're not equally smart. Someone is usually not that smart."
Employees hang out in the office and oversee your quest to make sure you're not up to any funny business, breaking things or getting violent.
"Everything happens here, especially since we're open on South Beach" Pashkevich said. "Can you imagine what type of people come in sometimes?"
Considering the location directly across from Mansion nightclub and weekend hours running to 4 in the morning, we're sure it attracts all kinds.
"At night, we receive some fun customers, definitely," she laughs. "The location is great. You can do your quest, warm up with your team, then go out and hit the club."
Just make sure you're respectful of those who have yet to play. Listen to and follow the simple rules, don't break anything, and please don't write on the walls. Some mischievous players have already marked up the walls in the Prison Escape rooms, and those false clues can have a team scratching its heads and wasting its time.
Don't feel bad if you use the clues, that's where they're there for, and don't get mad at your team mates if they aren't as helpful as you'd wish. Just go in, have a good time, and bring you're A-game. Then, challenge your friends, and see who is really the smartest of all.
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Escape the Quest, 1234 Washington Ave., Ste. 200, Miami Beach. Open seven days a week, times varying. Games start at $60 an hour, $15 per person, varying by date and time. Call 786-218-8632 or visit escapethequest.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.