I can't remember the last time I went out on a Friday night. I admit it. Social butterfly that I am Fridays are normally reserved for staying in and watching comedy on TV because it's one of the only nights off Joss has a week.
Last Friday though, ohhhh we pushed the boat out. A few weeks ago Escape Reality got in touch to ask if me and some guests of mine fancied taking on a game at their Cardiff branch and it took me all of half hour to round up a group and accept.
So originally I planned on taking my friends from my Foundation course but we're THE WORST at actually pulling plans out of the bag and one of them had a job opportunity they couldn't turn down and whadda ya know, I needed three more guests.
Luckily I happen to have a boyfriend and a brother and he happens to have a fiancé and when I phoned my bro up to ask if they fancied it he near enough died of excitement. Turns out he's been wanting to do one for ages so the date was booked, grandparents were roped in for baby duty and plans were made.
We decided to make a night of it as my brother and his family live in Cardiff so I drove me and Joss in and we all went for a cheeky Nandos. Standard Friday night behaviour.
After our meal we wandered over to Escape Reality. For those of you who know Cardiff well the branch is still difficult to find, it's like the first test of the game and you'd walk past it in the middle of the day. Basically if you walk down John Street toward the castle (the street with the Halifax on and where they put all them cute little huts at Christmas), Escape Reality is opposite the Owain Glyndwr Pub, a couple of doors up from the Welsh shop and a couple of doors down from the corner shop. It's a black door and you'd NEVER spot it unless you were looking so keep your eyes peeled if you're visiting.
So you're going to have to bear with me on this post because obviously I can't give away the secrets of the games and obviously I couldn't take any photos so there's very little I can talk to you about (or show you).
If you haven't done or haven't heard of Escape Rooms before, they are interactive games in which you're put in a scenario, in a bunch of rooms which you have to escape in a time frame (normally an hour).
Without giving the game away, the Cardiff branch has a variety of rooms and games on all different levels of the building, with a variety of different themes and levels of difficulty. Escape Reality got in touch with me to promote their Halloween scary themed games but being the wimp I am, scary is not on my level. I once went to the Alton Towers Scarefest and we did the Tower of Terror and I closed my eyes and buried my face into the back of my flatmate and screamed throughout the whole thing. Ya feel me, scary escape rooms isn't my thing.
However, because of the wide variety of games available at Escape Reality there is luckily a lot of choice so the less than brave like me can still have a go at a rooms. I chose the Fibonacci game which is naturally the second most difficult because ain't nothing like a challenge on your first rooms right? The idea of the game is there has been a murder in an art gallery surrounded by symbols. You start working out clues which reveal a secret kept guarded for thousands of years and thus, because you've discovered too much, a bunch of baddies are after you and you have to finish solving the clues and escape the rooms before they get you.
The game itself was INCREDIBLE. We got to wear cloaks throughout the whole thing which made it boiling but a lot of fun and added to the atmosphere and after a short briefing where the staff explained the story behind the game and all the safety features, we were away.
So you have an iPad with you which has a timer on it to countdown your hour and also allows you to ask for hints and use a scanner for QR codes for solutions, both of which will give you a penalty and scupper your chances of getting on the leaderboard.
The game itself was unsurprisingly VERY difficult but a hell of a lot of fun. Like I said, I can't describe in depth any of the clues but there were common sense ones, cryptic ones, mathematical ones, pictorial ones....there was something different for every clue and each bit we discovered unlocked another set of clues, something to help us (like torches, the rooms are dark) or unlocked a pin for the next door. We did a total of 4 rooms and we all got a chance at working it out. Ultimately the way you work as a team is crucial to this game and the type of mind and the way you work clues out is vital. Some clues I worked out immediately whereas my brother couldn't see it. The final clue my brother had to literally sit in silence and work it out for 20 minutes and frankly we wouldn't have made it out if it weren't for him.
I have to hold my hands up here and say we didn't make it out in 1 hour. We made it out in just under 2. Normally you'd only be given your 60 minutes but we were the last booking of the night and they just let us continue which I cannot thank them enough for because we would have lost our minds with frustration having not worked it all out to the end.
Honestly it was SUCh a bundle of laffs, we giggled our way through the whole thing and thankfully all stayed friends by the end of it. I've always thought Escape Rooms sounded fun but have never been all that keen to look into it because I thought they were scary but they have such a wide selection of games there really is something to suit everyone, no matter your levels of expertise or fear. I would say probably don't go for the most difficult game if it's your first go but I didn't listen to that advice myself.
I loved loved loved the whole evening and my brother and his fiancé did too. Joss' brain admittedly went about an hour and a half in because he couldn't figure out the last clue but he did say puzzles and games weren't really his thing so we'll discount him. We're thinking of booking another one asap and I definitely want to take my friends who couldn't initially make it, honestly it was such a good night out.
If you're in Cardiff or local enough I cannot recommend booking an Escape Reality experience enough. As well as the games themselves the building also has a bar and seating area and as you have to arrive at least 15 minutes before your game you can really enjoy the night. I think it would be SUCH a good way to spend a stag or a hen if you're into something a bit different and then a night on the town in Cardiff but for birthdays, events, even just an alternative way to spend a Friday night, it's such a fun time.
Group sizes range from 2 to 6 people but obviously you can book up more than one room for your party and split up and prices vary but get cheaper the more people you go with. There's a discount on the Escape Reality Cardiff website at the moment so if you fancy booking for Halloween I highly suggest you get on it soon.
Huge huge credit goes to the team at Escape Reality Cardiff for hosting me and my guests for the evening. It really makes a difference to the night when the staff are so lovely and friendly and accommodating and they kept popping in when were were stuck with clues and tips, and of course they let us have extra time.
I literally cannot recommend the whole experience enough so thank you to Escape Reality for letting this motley crew of couples and siblings and future in laws have the best Friday night out.
* My party was hosted for free at Escape Reality Cardiff in exchange for this review but all opinions and love for the evening, the experience and the games is very much true to me and my guests.