The leaves are turning brown, there’s a chill in the air, and the rain has returned to Vancouver. That’s right—October is right around the corner, which means facing the agonizing decision of whether to turn up at your Halloween party in the sexiest dress possible, or to cover yourself in greasy facepaint that will give you acne for a week.
To help you avoid a last minute panic where you have dress as Barb from Stranger Things (mark our words: the city is going to be packed with frumpy ginger girls with huge glasses and waist-high jeans this year), Vancouver’s numerous escape rooms will be sporting a number of seasonal puzzles that will doubtless give you some fresh costume ideas.
With games ranging from the gruesome to the downright terrifying, these five top escape rooms will serve as a great reminder that Halloween is less about short skirts and high heels than blood, gore, and claustrophobia.
Smartypantz: “Thirst for Murder” (289 Abbott St #100, Gastown)
In true Saw fashion, Smartypantz’s most scary room, “Thirst For Murder”, places participants in a nightmarish basement at the mercy of a psychotic and cannibalistic killer. Briefly left alone by their captor, players attempt to escape his plans for their brutal murder by first freeing themselves from the handcuffs that shackle them to the walls. Be warned: there will be blood.
Freeing Canada: “Secret of the Asylum” (11860 Hammersmith Way: Unit 173, Richmond)
With one of the most impressive backstories of Vancouver's escape rooms, "Secret of the Asylum" is the thinking-man's horror chamber. Players are told that, after losing contact with superiors on an undercover mission in a dangerous asylum, no-one will believe that they are not really patients. With the hospital deciding that the best medical treatment for them is a lobotomoy, the participants are on the clock. After a fellow inmate at the hospital mysteriously goes missing, the gamers head to his cell to find out how he managed to escape, only to find a terrifying secret. With all game clues provided in English and Simplified Chinese, the secrets of the Asylum are accessible to all—if participants can only figure out what they are. And get out of their straitjackets. (No we're not kidding.)
Exit Escape Room (Broadway): “Butcher Shop” (309 W Broadway, Vancouver)
With a success rate of roughly 1%, players have to be first-class critical thinkers to make it out of this terrifying challenge in time. The Butcher Shop’s cold, sterile space is filled with the smell of decaying raw carcasses, and, as one of the toughest escape rooms in the city, chances are gamers will be desperately searching through the room’s rotting meat for the full 45 minutes.
Lockdown Escape: “Abandoned Dormitory” (12571 Bridgeport Rd #170, Richmond)
Spinning the story that five people have mysteriously gone missing from a small town, this escape room casts participants as investigators of the last place that all of them were seen alive. Trouble is, that happens to be an abandoned dormitory. Sound more Harry Potter than Nightmare on Elm Street? You’re mistaken. Haunted by the ghosts of a murdered dean and his alleged mistress, gamers must face a terrifying puzzle to find the lost individuals. With one of the best success rates of any room in the city, though, chances are players might make it out alive. Might.
Krakit: “Asylum” (4035 North Road, Burnaby)
“Asylum” asks you to imagine yourself as criminally insane and sentenced to a life in a mental hospital. With just a medical chart as their first clue, players have less than an hour to escape before their doctor returns to administer a drug that will trap them in a lifelong state of sedation. Featuring a live appearance from the doctor himself for all October games, Krakit takes the terror of escape rooms to a new level.
Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays