Mapping out Edmonton's emerging "escape room" game scene has become an obsession for one local couple.
Lamya Assiff and Jason Lee Norman have been exploring every creepy and confounding corner where the games are held, documenting it all in a new blog.
"I think people are still discovering them and we wanted to talk about the ones we really liked." said Norman, whose initial skepticism about the games didn't last long. "I was expecting lots of strobe lights and just feeling very claustrophobic. It's not a scavenger hunt but it gives you that feel of a chase.
"It's really fun," he said. "You can definitely get lost in it and you really get swept up in the whole thing."
Escape room games have been wildly popular overseas for several years. But the trend is catching on in Edmonton, with dozens of new operations cropping up around the city in recent months, run by businesses which charge a fee in the $25 range.
The games are theatrical productions. Players must decipher codes, puzzles and find hidden clues in time to find the key that will set them free. Rooms are intricately staged with lots of sights, sounds and even smells.
"It's claustrophobic and exciting," said Assiff, who estimates the couple has outsmarted at least 16 of the games.
"They throw a group of six to eight people into a small room and give you a short back story, and say you need to rescue someone, or save the world or something like that, and then they just go and close the door."
The blog rates each game based on challenge level, creativity of the room, 'wow factor' and overall experience.
"The best rooms are the ones that find that 'sweet spot' for the challenge, so it's not too easy, but it's not unsolvable," said Assiff.