Kernel editors race against the clock in local escape rooms

Kentucky Kernel Staff

As UK students begin struggling to study for finals and finish end-of-term projects, they might feel the need to escape.

Luckily, two options in Lexington can take their minds off of Dead Week for at least an hour, but UK students will want to escape that too. Kentucky Kernel editors visited Breakout Games and Countdown Games, which create different puzzle-ridden and mysterious escape rooms for a group of players to solve and find a way out in one hour. 

At Breakout Games, the editors found themselves searching for a group of kidnapped citizens in “Do Not Disturb.” The single room game took place in a bedroom that was the last known location of the kidnapper and his victims. The editors had to find the missing persons with clues left by the kidnapper. This is Breakout Games’ newest room and the cost was $20. 

The editors then explored a Pharaoh’s tomb in “The Pharaoh’s Curse” at Countdown Games. This multi-room puzzle tasked the group with breaking an ancient curse with riddles and clues left by the Pharaoh and cost $22. This room is Countdown Games’ biggest room and includes a slide. 

Read Kernel editors’ reviews below.

McKenna Horsley, assistant managing editor

For me, working under pressure is one of the most thrilling experiences. It’s actually part of the reason I went into journalism. Both Countdown and Breakout Games provided the same rush. Both experiences provided a great bonding experience with my fellow editors outside the basement of Grehan Journalism Building. The rooms challenged our teamwork skills in ways not possible in just a work environment. 

That being said, I definitely enjoyed the puzzles offered in “The Pharaoh’s Curse.” Finding the right hieroglyphics and the hidden slide made me feel like I could compete with Indiana Jones in running away from boulders in ancient tunnels. 

Arden Barnes, photo editor

I would definitely consider myself a jumpy person, but I also like the adrenaline rush of being scared. That being said, that is probably why I preferred the Breakout Games’ room to Countdown Games’. The room we did at Breakout, “Do Not Disturb” was a kidnapping situation. There were more surprises in the Breakout room, meaning more jump scares for our group. I thought that all the “surprises” at Countdown were predictable. There was also a much higher sense of urgency to “break out” with the one at Breakout. The Countdown room had multiple rooms within a single room, and that made solving the puzzles more interesting and interactive.

As far as aesthetics go, both rooms were put together very well and were very detailed. The puzzles were challenging and made you think, but were not impossible. Both rooms were made for eight people, but we had four people in Breakout and five in Countdown. I think if we had had any more people, it would have been crowded and also would have been more difficult to solve the puzzles. Overall, Breakout was more entertaining and $2 cheaper.

Rick Childress, assistant News editor 

It’s fun to think that you can pay strangers to lock you in a room with your friends. Really, that’s the most important part of going to an escape room– making fun memories with your friends in the rooms that you paid some strangers to lock you in. Both Countdown and Breakout accomplished this, and for that reason both are worth the price of admission, but of the two, Countdown Games is better for a couple of reasons. 

First, Pharoah’s Curse, our room at Countdown, was clearly created with more imagination and more money. I mean, who would have thought to put a slide in a breakout room? And who would be able to afford the space to put one in? Countdown Games can and does. 
Second, the puzzles in Countdown Games were more creatively designed. The puzzles in Do Not Disturb, our room at Breakout, were about trying to find number sequences that would open padlocks or complete grids, while Countdown’s puzzles in the Pharoah’s Curse involved no digits and could be solved through intuition and cleverness– or by begging the gamemaster for clues. Clues and patterns could be found on objects, in hieroglyphics and even in the repetitive movements of a magnetic, self-moving marble. I definitely preferred Countdown’s slide and hieroglyphics to the Morse code and lock jiggling of Breakout. 
Madison Rexroat, social media editor

For the record, I have a hard time believing that neither location was “supposed to be scary” unless the rest of the world’s population just has no emotion at all. Strange voices, flickering lights, moving objects and even more scary– having to use my brain! However, without the scares, which again, weren’t supposed to be scares, I would’ve found the experience to be rather, well, boring. Sure, there might be some people who like difficult mind games under a time limit, and it could be actually healthy if I exercised my brain in that way more, but some of the puzzles were more aggravating than anything. That’s not to say the games weren’t fun, but again, without the scares and certainly without a group of people, it would’ve just been like volunteering to take an annoying and unnecessary quiz. Plus, even if you don’t like the game, you always know you’ll be out in an hour.

Comparing the two, Breakout was scarier with flashing lights and overall scenario, but Countdown’s multiple rooms and levels added more dimension to the game. Also, if you have more than four people, the more rooms, the better. As for settings and clues, both were well set-up and flowed seamlessly. Neither were really my idea of absolute fun, but both were enjoyable experiences.

Bailey Vandiver, managing editor

I wasn’t able to go with my fellow editors to Breakout, so I can’t offer my opinion between that room and Countdown’s room. But I can compare Pharaoh’s Curse to other escape rooms I’ve been to in other cities, and I can say I was really impressed. The multi-floor space made it unique from other escape rooms, and as someone who loves history, I liked that it was based in Egyptian myths and stories.

How much you enjoy an escape room definitely depends on who you’re trying to escape with, and I had a great team. By great I mean that we had fun, not that we were great at escaping– our time was literally 59:59.999. We laughed and we screamed, and, thankfully, any crying was because of laughing too hard, not the fear of actually being cursed by a pharaoh. The slide was an awesome touch, but beware of your team members climbing up it unexpectedly– that will likely make you scream loudest of all. 

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