by Lisa Talley
The resounding and indescribable sound of a door slamming home while a lock clicks shut would have most people shuddering under an inundation of unpleasant thoughts. However, for some, it’s the sound of adrenaline rushing through their veins as their senses heighten, and their vision sharpens, preparing for a test of intellectual mettle. To them, it means being propelled into the depths of a great and exciting riddle. The riddle of an ‘escape room’.
“Escape rooms are an active form of entertainment in which teams of 2-6 players (friends, families, co-workers, etc.) are ‘locked’ into a room of varying themes, in which they have 60 minutes to make their escape,” explains Sarah Clem, co-owner of Breakout Fresno.
Located just a stone’s throw from Blackstone Ave, between Bullard and Sierra, is Breakout Fresno. Here, you can voluntarily have yourself locked into a room in which you must figure out how to escape. In this light, entertainment seems like such a far cry from the type of intensity in the aforementioned description, but it’s exactly what Breakout Fresno aims to give its patrons.
“We really pride ourselves on the experience people have from the time they walk in the door until they leave. Our favorite part is definitely [when] we see the excitement people have after playing, and the teams [are] in the parking lot talking about it long after they’re done!”, shares Clem.
The rooms come in a couple of different shapes, by way of themes and puzzles. You’ll have the option to choose between a military style operation in which you’re tasked with saving the world (no pressure) or you can try your hand in the Old West where you’re either escaping from jail, or attempting to stop a train robbery. Each of the different styles presents you not only with different experiences, but provide you with an additional option. The military style mission is available in 2 rooms, allowing you to compete with another team to see who can solve the puzzle first. With the Old West, you’re able to go through the experience twice, once as an Outlaw and another as a Cowboy.
Each room and each game have the same time limit, 60-minutes, so it goes without saying that the puzzles are fairly difficult. However, the staff understands that some help may be needed along the way. Provided with each session is a Gamekeeper, a member of the staff who not only monitors the progress of each team but who will also offer up clues to the players during their game. Although this is helpful, it’s up to the players to communicate and work together as they figure out what those clues mean to the puzzle. Teamwork, at Breakout Fresno, will be essential in achieving success within each mission.
“To be successful, it requires teamwork and utilizing all types of thinkers. We look at things through a different lens, and there are definitely areas that are easier for the analytical thinkers while there is plenty for the abstract thinkers as well,” offers Clem.
Breakout Fresno is set up to be a fun, unique and challenging adventure for just about everyone from young kids to businesses seeking out an interesting alternative to traditional team building exercises. The Fresno Grizzlies, PGE, and Starbucks are just a few of those businesses who’ve brought groups into Breakout Fresno to help strengthen their team. But it truly is anyone’s game.
“What we have really noticed is how universally appealing these games are. There is something that intrigues us all about observing our surroundings and using clues and puzzles to solve things. It’s been fun watching families with young kids, to teenagers, to first dates, to folks in their 70’s, to everyone in between really enjoy themselves,” says Clem.
Breakout Fresno is a family affair, both for guests and for the staff. The idea to open an escape room driven establishment came to Sarah Clem and her husband while they were on vacation in Philadelphia. Until their visit, Clem had only been familiar with the escape room experience as a game to be played online, not in person. The journey into a live experience had them hooked almost immediately and it inspired them to bring it home to Fresno. With the help of her parents, Clem was able to build out and decorate the rooms with careful detail to make each guest’s experience an immersive and enriched one.
Space in each room on any given day is limited. However, Breakout Fresno has a comprehensive scheduling system that you can view on their website. Their calendar, when you choose to book a room, has an up to date count of how many spots are available in each room on each day. The spots are limited to 6 total, but guests are welcome to book teams as small as 2 to play out each scenario. However, to make sure there are enough players for each game, groups of 3 or less may be grouped with another team.
To find out more information about Breakout Fresno and the experiences they offer, as well as their scheduled games visit BreakOutFresno.com.
Who knew the prospect of escaping could illicit so much excitement?