by Tahir Chaithoo, Edenvale High School
My family had gone to Sun City for three days as a get-away. During my exploration of the area, I struck upon a different kind of gem at the Lost Palace. I had seen the words, ‘Breakout.’ I first I thought it was a demolition site, but on closer inspection I found something edging on transcendent for me, it was an escape room! I was thrilled, and all kinds of happy thoughts ran through my head. I had often fantasized about experiencing it, and seen it on the internet, but finally getting to experience it, well that is beyond words.
So, if you are wondering what Breakout is, it’s an escape room – it’s a game where you are trapped in a room, and to get out of the room you and your team must find puzzles and decipher information to solve them so that the answer sets you free. There is a time limit of an hour which means that if you don’t escape from the room within the time limit, you lose the game. If you escape and win, you get a discount at their merchandise shop. I know that somehow seems lame, but the discount isn’t the thrill.
An escape room is the perfect place to sharpen your deductive and problem-solving skills as an individual and promotes strong teamwork. The ideal training ground for a wannabe Sherlock Holmes.
My family and I asked about the different scenarios we could be placed in. There are a number of these; a plane hijacking scenario called ‘Airplane Mystery’, or a kidnapping game, and finally, a virtual reality scenario called ‘Escape from the Lost Pyramid.’ We chose ‘Airplane Mystery’.
To play costs R249 a person, and half price for under 14’s. Be aware that there is a minimum requirement of four people to be able to play. After paying, the game master ‘amped’ up our anticipation as she briefed us about the rules of the game. My mother and sister shivered in anticipation, or was it fear? The popularity of the activity sometimes means you have to schedule an appointment to play, which we did. While we waited, we preoccupied ourselves with other activities, and there are plenty of those.
It was time! We were told to put blindfolds on and escorted into the room one at a time. The person who accompanied us would be our “caretaker” and would assist if we required help.
Our emotions were scattered all over the place, excited and at the same time anxious and nervous for this new experience of sensory deprivation. My father is claustrophobic, so the idea of being trapped in an enclosed area is his worst nightmare. Handcuffed and blindfolded, we were led into the room like prisoners, leaving everyone feeling a little unhinged.
The instruction was that when an audio clip played, we could remove our blindfolds, our game had started. The room was not very big and littered with clues and red herrings. It took us fifteen minutes to remove our handcuffs because we missed a clue, after that, we solved each puzzle quickly, but time was moving at the speed of light.
There were times where I absolutely believed we would not get out of there in time. The room is scattered with masterfully crafted enigmas that need a sharp, logical and perceptive mind to unlock. As time ran on, perspiration dotted our foreheads, and silly mistakes made because of the pressure.
Finally, with minutes to spare we entered the last code. We held our breath waiting to see whether we had cracked it. We all screamed in triumph with our fists pumping in the air, some of us jumping in the air as the door opened and we were free! The relief of having done it created an incredible feeling of fulfillment for me, my teammates still screaming loudly enough so the whole building could know about our achievement.
This was one of the most fun things I have done with my family. I believe ‘Breakout’ is life-changing and bonding experience for anyone visiting or staying at Sun City. We left the building smiling, experiencing a natural high and feeling of camaraderie because we beat the clock and worked together as a family team, utterly intoxicating.