Ottawa·Video

Could you crack the code?

It's an escape room experience designed to test potential spies. In September, Ottawa's Escape Manor launched a new room called The Recruit. Watch the video to see how two CBCers fared.

CBCers try their hand at Ottawa escape room designed to test future spies

CBC host Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco and copy editor Alistair Steele tried their hand at a new escape room designed to test potential recruits for Canada's Communications Security Establishment. 2:45

The stakes are high, and time is running out.

It's your first day on the job at Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE). Your boss leaves the room, then suddenly, the building goes into lockdown.

Turns out there's an international syndicate trying to infect the world with a computer virus, and it's up to you and your colleagues to stop it — with your new boss on the phone to guide you.

Can you crack the code and save the world?

Back in the fall, Ottawa-based Escape Manor teamed up with Canada's foreign signals intelligence agency to create an escape room designed to test potential employees of the spy agency. CSE code makers and breakers helped design the puzzles in the room dubbed The Recruit.

Recently, two CBCers — TV host Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco and digital copy editor Alistair Steele — tried their hand. For 45 minutes they attempted to decipher Morse code, break combination locks and figure out how to get into the fictional server to shut down the virus.

Unfortunately, they were not successful.

A scene from the promotional video for the CSE escape room scenario, called "The Recruit." (Communications Security Establishment)

But, since The Recruit started at Escape Manor's Hintonburg location in September, at least one person has successfully cracked the code and solved a final puzzle, and later met with real CSE recruiters. More than 40 others have applied for employment with CSE, citing their escape room experience as their motivation.

As for Steele and Dabaghi-Pacheco, they got close, but they're both still working at CBC.