Escape rooms have become a hit in the last two decades. They are designed to be challenging with varying degrees of difficulties and the support you get will depend on the game master/s. My wife and I have done a few escape rooms (like 10 around Australia and Asia), but one at Real Escape Room in Asakusa was seriously hard that afterwards, I was thinking either my IQ had dropped 100 points or my creativity was just out the window on this occasion. It remains the craziest escape room that I have visited.
A week before we traveled to Japan, we thought we would do something we enjoyed and so we booked online and chose the Red Room for a 3:00 pm start. The rules noted that we needed to get at the venue 10 minutes before the ‘game starts’. (We thought beforehand that surely this escape room would be challenging, but not completely impossible. Hmm…)
On the day, we had visited the Tokyo Skytree for the Attack on Skytree exhibition and also visited the Pokemon Center at the shopping mall there as well. We were having a great day sightseeing and absorbing the cityscape around Tokyo. Then this happened… (actually it was alright, we just felt defeated and deflated.)
Even before I explain what we endured, the end result was that I felt like a headless chicken aimlessly trying to work out the clues and solve the puzzles. For a person in my profession, I am embarrassed that I didn’t get past the half way mark in this escape room.
Overall, the whole room was really cool and you could tell that they put a lot of effort into their setup, like nothing I have seen before. There was some serious thought about this escape room business. In the end, our hosts told us that they would show us everything and how to complete the puzzles if we agreed never to come back again. We agreed. When we saw how the puzzles were to be solved, we were gobsmacked that anyone would be able to beat the room in the strict time that players had to complete the room.
Before entering the room, you have to leave your shoes, electronic devices and backpacks in a locker. (Clearly no cheating is allowed.)
When we entered the Red Room, we were amazed by the amount of effort they put into the set-up. It wasn’t some dingy room with a few props. It was cleanish and purposefully meticulous setup.
Without giving too much away, the puzzles themselves do not require you to understand any Japanese at all. There is a lot of out of the box thinking required and, for me, a surprising amount of ‘I didn’t know that we could even do that’ moments. There is a natural easy to hard scale with the puzzles, but I felt after the second puzzle that the level of thinking required exponentially increased. If you do this escape room, my tip to you is to push things, even things you know you shouldn’t be able to push, and always look behind you.
Throughout the experience, the game masters followed you and explained all the concepts to us. It was easy to follow their instructions, though they were smart enough not to give too much away. (I think if you know Japanese and know it well, the whole experience will be made easily and fun because they do narrate the experience and make it interesting. English is their second or maybe third language.)
It was odd that the game masters followed us around, but I didn’t mind. Maybe they enjoy seeing people struggle.
Needless to say, we didn’t escape. But the escape room had left such an impression on me.
Real Escape Room Asakusa is located here: 1 Chome-17-2 Azumabashi, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0001, Japan
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