"What if video games were, like, real?"
I'm glad that you asked, non-existent individual! The burgeoning "room escape" scene offers groups of random people opportunities to solve a series of tactile puzzles together in order to break out of a room. Although these rooms are primarily inspired by puzzle-filled video games, they also borrow thematic elements from fairly tales, movies, and more. "The Grimm Escape" at Seattle's Puzzle Break venue informed us that would succumb to a wicked witch's curse within an hour if we were unable to escape her cottage. The presence of helpful staff members that provided us with hints made it difficult for any suspension of disbelief to occur, of course, but no matter! Our group pressed on.
The collection of puzzles that was woven into this space did a great job of enabling individuals to contribute to the group effort in different ways. Depending on the task at hand, it could be crucial to have someone that is great with numbers. In other instances, people would find room to step into temporary leadership roles and ensure that everyone is communicating and sharing vital information. There were just enough interesting props and setpieces in the room to lend the proceedings a grander atmosphere than you would get sitting around with a sudoku puzzle. Please don't assume that I'm disparaging the sudoku parties that you probably throw in your spare time, by the way. I bet that they're splendid!
The most fascinating element of this game was seeing how a group of 14 strangers managed to spontaneously break up into subgroups to solve puzzles and then reconvene to share information. No one person was designated as a leader before we walked into this room, and everyone just happened to gravitate towards roles that fit their strengths. I'm not usually a task-delegate-y, boss-man guy, so I was able to focus in on a handful of math and logic puzzles to determine vital lock combinations and code words that fed into larger riddles. Everyone seemed to get along great in our group, and to my surprise, there was no significant personality clashes that got in the way of things (I would have assumed that at least a handful of arguments would have popped up in a group of 14 strangers).
Puzzle Break's staff members are understandably sensitive about any "spoilers" for their rooms leaking out. It's easy to see how knowing solutions ahead of time would break the experience for newcomers, so there isn't much else that I should say about this particular room. I would definitely be interested in trying out another one of these with a group of friends, though!