About midway in, a group testing the new room at TrappedKC stumbled.
A series of clues had produced a 10-digit number, and Sarah Stegner dialed it on a desk phone. A recording issued more clues, which she attempted to copy down.
The recording ended. She hadn’t written all of its clues down. But the 10-digit number, the one she needed to re-initiate the recording, had been erased in the interim.
Stegner had two options: solve the series of clues to produce the 10-digit number yet again, or attempt to conjure it from memory.
She looked down at the phone, dialed slowly, her forehead creased in concentration, and managed to redial the number.
That mental prowess must be in heavy supply to solve the mysteries contained in “The Neighbor,” a new room at TrappedKC on Third Street.
The third room from the business will soon be available to the public, and only more experienced escape-room aficionados are likely to solve its complex web of logic games.
“(Our other two rooms) are linear: clue one leads to clue two and three and four,” said co-owner Micah Swick. “But this one has multiple paths, and you don’t know how they intertwine.”
Among the room’s secrets are facial recognition technology, math and geography puzzles and a radio-frequency identification lock.
Though cracking a code and opening a lock seemed to thrill the group, each unlocked drawer or cabinet revealed only more clues.
“It’s hard because I don’t know what’s been done and what’s not been done,” Stegner said.
“To help us out, we can destroy what we have already used,” joked Carolyn Bradley.
Though the group didn’t crack all of the room’s codes in under 60 minutes, they eventually passed its final test and discovered the reason for all those locks.
The escape and logic rooms, which have exploded in popularity, also allow for rewarding people-gazing, even as participants rush about, working together to decipher clues.
“I enjoyed sitting back and watching people, watching them process and then giving my input,” Bradley said.
The team testing “The Neighbor” — a group of friends who met at church — learned things about each other that they hadn’t known before.
“Sarah (Stegner) has an awesome memory,” Bradley said, recalling how she memorized the 10-digit number. And another friend, Lori Diffenderfer, has strong powers of perception, Bradley added.
Another popular escape-room business in Lee’s Summit also has plans for expansion. The Exit Room, located less than a mile from TrappedKC on Southwest Market Street, will unveil two 40-minute “express” rooms at Paradise Park in Lee’s Summit and add a location in White Plains, N.Y.
Exit Room owner Greg Arbuckle expects to open the new locations by July.
Currently, the Exit Room offers five interactive “adventures” for visitors, which draw a variety of clientele, including corporate visits for team building fun. The business offers discounts to corporate teams and space for more than 40 guests at a time.
TrappedKC’s clientele mainly consists of family groups, including couples and children celebrating birthdays, Swick said.
Bradley said she felt a sense of accomplishment after solving “The Neighbor,” even though “it’s just an illusion.”
The illusion, though, was impressive enough to entertain the five team members for more than an hour.
That’s a good sign for Swick, who said the most difficult part about building rooms isn’t devising clues but linking the clues in a way that forms a narrative.
And like with any good narrative, participants can expect a few plot twists inside “The Neighbor.”
“Everyone likes keys and combos,” Swick said, “but it’s nice to throw in other stuff they’re not expecting in the room.”