By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
An escape room activity is a fun way to spend an evening. It almost always includes puzzle-solving, memory games, and some complicated riddles that lead to players solving one momentous puzzle at the end. On Wednesday, February 17, patrons of the Westwood Public Library participated in a virtual Harry Potter Escape Room. Working in individual teams, participants worked to escape Azkaban, the infamous wizarding prison.
The event began with Felicia O’Keefe introducing everyone to the virtual escape room and explaining the mechanics of it. Players would watch segments of videos that included puzzles that had to be solved. Once solved, players would have to send O’Keefe the answer, and she would then provide a letter that would help solve an overall puzzle at the end. Each puzzle was allotted a certain amount of time. Felicia would reveal the answer when time was up so that all players could continue on with the game.
Launching into the game, players were asked to solve a list of codes in order to receive the answer from O’Keefe. “You’re looking for a seven-letter word based on the code that is on there. If you need a hint, you can also message me,” explained O’Keefe. Most teams seemed to solve it with ease, submitting their answers before time was up and getting it correct.
Things started to heat up after the third puzzle. Players were asked to follow a complicated water pouring puzzle. Participants had to figure out which areas would fill up with water, and in what order, to collect numbers that they would submit for the next clue. The only hint given was that the numbers would result in a ten-digit code. In the end, only one person managed to solve the correct ten-digit code.
The game didn’t slow down in the remaining puzzles. The next challenge included a set of gears that would rotate clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on what was attached to them. The next used a system similar to flag codes to reveal a five-word result. After matching up all the letters, players revealed the answer to be “The guilty and the lost,” a reference to the inescapable wizard prison players were trying to escape.
The last puzzle depended on how well players were paying attention during the game. Players were asked to answer a series of true-false questions using a diagram labeled with numbers that would eventually give them a ten answer code if they answered each question correctly. One wrong turn would result in the wrong answer. Despite trying their best, many teams did get the final question wrong, struggling to recall answers like “C is clockwise” and “Cup 6 is the second cup to fill.”
“If we were in a real escape room is this the number you’d put on the code to get out of the room?” one participant asked. Felicia confirmed that it was. “Cool. Slightly terrifying. I would still be locked in the room,” joked one attendee.
Overall, the escape room was a unique and fun virtual activity for families to solve together. While it is unclear when in-person escape rooms will emerge from the pandemic era, it is clear that the virtual format is just as entertaining and challenging.