One of the members of our Staycations crew is a Groupon hunter. In her search for new things to do she saw that the Paniq Room was opening on July 27th in San Diego.
The Paniq Room is a live escape game that pits players against clues and puzzles to help them break out of a series of rooms before an hour is up. In San Diego there are three different themed rooms: a graveyard, a Voodoo shop, and the one we played which was a drug cartel room. In our case we had to get out of the room within an hour as the DEA were on their way to bust us.
The Foggy Graveyard
One of the rooms in the VooDoo scenario
With a big IQ in the name of PanIQ room, I assumed that your logic, puzzle solving, general observance, and math skills might be of service. So five of us that in my humble opinion are pretty smart set out to attempt the drug cartel room. We had a few Masters degrees in our bunch so I felt pretty confident of our chances.
Ready to tackle the game we were led to the first room with some basic instructions and were then handed a walkie talkie in case we needed help. As the door was slowly shutting, the facilitator’s last words were, “Find the clues to lead you to the next clue.” Then came a small clinking sound and the door was shut. All master degrees and smarts aside, we looked like five lost and clueless children.
As we looked around the room we noticed we were in a chemical room or, in the case of our scenario, a drug making room. We desperately started looking for clues and soon found some obvious puzzles. We set out to solve the first one which ultimately was the combination to another challenge. This is a hard story to tell because I don’t want to give anything away for those who want to try it themselves. So everything will be a little vague.
The very first room, the chemical room.
Our first mistake was locking up the supplied IPad which would have helped us move on to the next hint. So they had to come in and verbally give us the combination. This helped us to enter the next room.
The next room was the marijuana growing room with plants lined up on shelves all around. Not to worry, they weren’t real cannabis plants for you DEA agents that might be reading this. As we were working on one problem, we totally overlooked another clue nearby. In retrospect, we should have had some players looking for other tips and hints while some were working on the existing challenge. It was the first time we discovered that you had to go back to the first room to find more information. The bright yellow walkie talkie squawked out a friendly reminder of the neglected clue as time was ticking down. We set about working on that challenge and were stumped at first until we discovered that the item had a smudged number that looked like the number one but was really an eight. So, we never could get the right combination to the lock. Again, we were helped out by our hand held safety line.
We soon entered the last room which was the office and money laundering room. There were obvious clues in that room but solving them was a different matter. One puzzle stood out like a sore thumb but it had a lock on it so all of us thought that we had to find the key first. As it turned out the lock had nothing to do with it and we eventually solved that puzzle to get to our next hint. Thanks in part to the booming voice declaring, “Solve the puzzle first,” which was transmitting from the now all familiar two-way radio. Hey, we were 50-something’s and it was hot in there. We run at least 200,000 degrees hotter than everyone else. Our melting brains were not working as well as the 20 year olds that left the room just before us. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it.
The final clues, we did figure out and eventually found the combination to let us out of the room. Five minutes earlier we heard another group exiting a nearby room and they were all ecstatically yelling with pure delight and accomplishment. When we all exited, you could hear a pin drop. It was cool in the hallway and that is all we cared about.
Looking back we all agreed that once we knew what it was all about and what to expect, we would do way better at the next one. That doesn’t mean the clues would be any easier, but finding them would. As an example bring a light source, some areas were dark and most of the wasted time we spent was trying combinations on locks that we could barely see. Mostly due to our waning eyesight, so bring strong reading glasses if you need them.
Also, have some people working on finding other clues instead of everyone working on the same thing. We also thought that all of our clues would be in the room we were working in, but in truth you had to go back and forth. There were also a few things they could have done to improve and they were open to hear our input. After all, it was their first week and there were some kinks to work out… like air conditioning!! Also, fix that eight that looks like a one! However, I think once they get going, this will be a well received and great attraction for San Diego.
All and all it was a fun time. We were a little slow and dense on some problems while others we were able to solve on our own. As mentioned, the second time around would yield a better result. Again, a story I am sticking to. We did make it out of all the rooms and the final exit although they did give us a little wiggle room on the clock. Or, maybe the DEA agents stopped at a local doughnut shop which gave us that extra time.
If you love this type of thing and your brain feels up to the challenge, I recommend the PanIQ Room in San Diego which is located close to Horton Plaza.
I would do it again and try the other rooms. Nothing like being in a foggy, scary, graveyard to help you solve the clues as quickly as you can.
For more information on the history, this is direct from their website, please read below:
The original live escape games were launched in Budapest in early 2011. With more than a 100 locations now, escape games have become the number one tourist action of the Hungarian capital. The game itself attracts thousands of players on a daily basis as it provides an unforgettable and very unique experience for everyone.
Being one of the best reviewed escape games in the industry and now that more and more players come and experience the game, PanIQ Room is becoming the gold standard for live escape games worldwide.
Live Escape Game Room escape is a game emerged from the well-known 90’s point-and-click adventure PC games, where searching, puzzle solving and excitement remain, but what makes it the ultimate experience is that you are physically participating in the story.
The goal is to find and use objects that help players through a range of logic and skill tasks, thereby progressively guiding them to the final puzzle, which ultimately gives them the key to escape. You are locked in a thematic environment for an hour, where your primal survival and problem solving instincts are fully utilized. You need to work in teams and use all your senses: keep your eyes on every detail in the environment searching for hints that will allow you to accomplish the mission and escape from the room!
Story and photos:Debbie Colwell
Parting shots: The neighborhood around the PanIQ Room near Horton Plaza and the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego.