Escape rooms latest form of entertainment
With his realm of mystery rooms awaiting sharp thinking visitors, Casey Roehler shares his passion as a "dungeonmaster" to a public hungry for escape.
Escape is the prime directive when tackling the challenge of Escapologist's puzzle rooms. With Jailhouse Heist and Media Bunker Blackout, visitors to Roehler's business at 602 SE Wallock have their hands and minds full.
Roehler and his wife Jennifer opened Escapologist on Sept. 20. Inside the building, housed in the city's industrial area just east of the railroad tracks downtown, you find yourself in a world of Roehler's creation.
Escape rooms offer an immersive theater experience. Inside a room, you have one hour to find the clues and beat the tasks and puzzles in the room to stop the timer and escape.
Escape rooms have proven to be a great way for friends to work together while having fun, as well as for company team-building events, Roehler said.
A lifelong fan of role playing games and puzzles, Roehler said he's living the dream in being able to share his favorite pastime with the public and to have it received well. He called it the ideal way to spend life following his medical retirement from the military.
"I love puzzles, creating stories," Roehler said. "I know it sounds nerdy, but I'm a huge D&D (Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game) player."
"In the end I just want to create an experience that takes us out of our day-to-day elements, pretty much," he said.
Escape rooms are a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a time limit to unveil the secret plot hidden within the rooms. These types of rooms have gained popularity within the past seven years and have become a booming entertainment option.
Escapologist is Lawton's first. Roehler said the successes of rooms in Oklahoma City and Edmond inspired him to believe this is a perfect entertainment choice for local families.
Through his Dungeons and Dragons experiences, Roehler said, he learned to find the joy and beauty in setting up an elaborate world for players to become immersed. As the director of gameplay, there is excitement in his voice when he prepares a new group of players for entry into one of the two puzzle rooms.
Although you're "locked inside" one of the rooms, fire codes don't allow locked exits for your safety so you are free to leave at any time. But for the sake of the game, think of yourself as in the moment, Roehler said.
Some people ask if the experience is dark, like in the "Saw" movies. It's not, Roehler said. Although some themes may tend to the darker side, there is always a sense of lighthearted fun.
"The good news is that you'll leave with the same number of limbs you came in with," Roehler said.
The first room to open was the Media Bunker Blackout. Providing a storyline that incorporates the Cold War era with investigative reporting makes for a provocative and entertaining mystery for the player to make less opaque. Under an American flag on the wall, a skeleton decked out in Army camouflage sits at a typewriter, silently begging the player to learn its story.
"You uncover the story while trying to break away," Roehler said, "before you're sealed up forever."