Winston’s newest craze

Eliza Carlton, Features Editor

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Members of the Pine Whispers staff got to experience the escape room for themselves,

Escape rooms are the newest craze for people of all ages, and Winston-Salem claims to have one of the best in the area.

R.J. Reynolds alums Brady and Ryann Lievens recently opened Total Escape, a unique experience where groups are challenged to use their surroundings and their problem solving skills to find a way out of the interactive rooms.  

“We want people who play our games to have an experience they can’t find anywhere else, an experience they talk about for weeks afterwards because it was so different from their normal lives,” Ryann said.  “Escape rooms are unique in this culture because they require teamwork and human interaction without screens. These games challenge people’s ability to work together and use critical thinking skills in a way that is fun and exciting.”

Ryann admits that she has always had an affinity for games, whether they be board games, video games, sports, or card games.  

“If it wasn’t a game, we’d turn it into one,” Ryann said.  “Escape rooms essentially function as life-sized, immersive games, and after playing upwards of 30 escape room experiences, we decided to create our own.

Currently, Total Escape offers two different themed options, “Temple of Tikal” and “Prison Break”. However, they plan to expand, especially after their successful grand opening on March 16, 2019.   

“At our Grand Opening celebration this past Saturday, we announced that our next experience will be a Yacht Heist,” Ryann said.  “Players will play the ‘bad guy’ and break onto a yacht to steal the valuables on board. We have room in our current facility to build five experiences total.”

Though the rooms have differing themes, the basic idea behind them is the same: try to escape within the hour.  Total Escape estimates approximately 25-30% of groups are actually able to escape in under 60 minutes.

“We want people who play our games to have an experience they can’t find anywhere else, an experience they talk about for weeks afterwards because it was so different from their normal lives,” Ryann said.  “Escape rooms are unique in this culture because they require teamwork and human interaction without screens.”

Ryann and Brady hope that what sets them apart is their hope that players will buy into the storylines, thus allowing them to be entirely immersed in the rooms for the hour.

“My brother, Brady, and I have designed all of the escape rooms ourselves from start to finish, and we believe in strong gameplay with lots of puzzle variety that makes sense in the context of the theme,” Ryann said. “We are family owned and operated, so our hearts are in it 100%, and we will go above and beyond to make sure every person who walks in Total Escape has an amazing experience.”