“You have one hour in this environment closed from everyday life, where the ancient surviving and problem solving instincts inside of you can revive” – Claustrophilia, Budapest
The goal of this mystery project was to find out about the secrets of Budapest. The three of us, Illés, Júlia and myself decided to dive right into learning all about the creepy legends of this beautiful city and found ourselves discovering the most gruesome murders and scariest tales. But there was one thing missing; we didn’t actually solve any mysteries ourselves!
The police probably weren’t going to let us help with solving any crimes, so how could we put our Sherlock-like senses to full use? We did of course what only the best investigators would do; we turned to Google. And what seemed to be the case? Budapest is perfect for you if you’re an amateur riddle solver! All because of one phenomenon; ‘escape games’.
For some reason Budapest is the place to be for ‘escape games’. Maybe it’s because it has a lot of abandoned buildings with sinister basements. Maybe it’s because back in the day people here just had to escape from rooms a lot. Anyway, it was perfect for us.
An escape game is basically where you and your friends get locked in a room and you have to look for objects, combine different things and solve puzzles in order to get out. And I don’t mean ‘puzzles’ like as in ‘jigsaw puzzles’, but in more of a ‘holy-crap-what-do-these-clues-have-to-do-with-each-other-I’m-too-dumb-for-this’ kind of way. We chose Claustrophilia Budapest for our escape game, since according to Tripadvisor it’s the #1 thing you have to do when you’re in Budapest, and we chose the ‘Voodoo tales’ room because it sounded the scariest.
When the day of mystery solving had finally arrived, Google Maps led us to a normal looking apartment building. We got buzzed in and noticed the sign for ‘Claustrophilia’ above a small door. We stepped inside thinking we were going to be greeted by an employer and be given some instructions about the game, but there was just a small room with a table that had a letter and a walkie-talkie on it. There was a locked door to the left and a toilet behind the table, with a note on it that said: “this toilet is not part of the game!” Of course I didn’t believe this and searched out every inch of that toilet, but it really seemed to be just a toilet. On the letter there was this creepy story about a voodoo witch and it said that we had to talk in the walkie-talkie when we were ready to play the game. We spoke into the walkie-talkie with an unsure ‘Hello?’ and a low voice replied: “OK guys, the game has started.” Of course, I didn’t believe this either so I wanted to check the door through which we arrived. It was locked. Oh, the game sure had started.
Now, I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into too much detail about the game itself. But what I will say is that the rooms were very well decorated and that you really had to think outside the box to solve the puzzles. We had all read and watched our fair share of mysteries so we thought this was going to be a piece of cake, but we actually only made it out in the end right on the hour mark (you have to get out within an hour, dead or alive). It requires a lot of teamwork, persistence and ‘EUREKA!’ kind of moments, but you get an amazing adrenaline kick after you have solved an incredibly difficult puzzle. If you’re really stuck then the man on the other end of the walkie-talkie will give you a hint, so you’re not endlessly looking in the wrong direction. This adds a certain creepy feeling to the game too, because that same guy is constantly watching you and controlling some things in the room. I even suspect that he was messing with some objects in one of the rooms, because after we had unlocked a couple of doors and we ran back to the first one, there was an object on the floor that I am 100% sure was not there before!
In short, escape games are a great way to release your inner detective and also just a fun activity to do with your friends. It’s strange that it seems to only be a big thing in Budapest, but ultimately leaves a bunch of international visitors thinking ‘I need to set up one of those games at home too and I’ll become filthy rich!’ And to give you another taste of the mystery; after the escape game was finished the employer who had been watching us appeared out of nowhere to ask us if we enjoyed the experience. I told him about the object I found on the floor and that I was sure he placed it there. He just said: “No, I seriously didn’t do anything. Must be the voodoo magic.” Oh shit.
If you would like to experience the mystery and fun of Escape Games at Claustrophilia Budapest click HERE to find out further information on their site.
Images from http://www.claustrophilia.hu