Locked In recieves mixed reviews by reporter


Photo provided by Lauren Bri

Locked In is Lawrence's escape game that challenges participants to escape from a locked room as fast as possible.

There were 26 minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock. The room was growing hotter. As we opened the last lock in the room we hoped to find the four numbers needed to unlock the keypad on the door. Instead, we peered inside the cabinet to find a hidden room, full of more locks and clues we had to solve in time to make it out. We had no idea where to start and 25 minutes to figure it out.

Locked In Lawrence, the city’s newest form of amusement, was not like anything I have experienced before. Having grown up watching Jason Bourne movies, the chance to test my knowledge of code-cracking and escaping was one I couldn’t pass up.

I rallied three of my friends into coming with me, and we showed up with only five minutes to spare. They ask groups to arrive 15 minutes early in order to debrief them, but the building is in a tricky spot. We could hardly find it wedged inside the strip mall near the Dunkin’ Donuts on 6th Street.

Upon arrival, we were all asked to use the restroom before- hand. There were two stalls and no gender assignments to them, so my friends and I crowded in. Props to Locked In for keeping things gender-neutral.

Once inside the room, a video was played for us explaining the situation. We were stuck inside some crazy scientist’s apartment and had 60 minutes before he came home. We would get three hints sent via the television screen.

The game is set up so you are constantly cracking a code to find a key which will unlock a box leading you to a clue for unlocking another box. The clues seemed to grow in difficulty as time ran out. Towards the end they would give us more and more hints as time ran out. Locked In doesn’t want you to fail. Succeeding with two minutes to spare is just enough victory to keep you coming back.

However, I probably will not try Locked In again. Aside from the lousy location, the room didn’t feel involved enough. It was still my three friends and I in a room in Lawrence. I wanted to be yelling across the room at my friends with five seconds on the clock and someone pounding on the door as the “mad scientist” returned home. In short, escape rooms become a bunch of locks and keys if there’s no follow through.

In the last five minutes, one of the employees actually had to pause our game to come in and unlock a box for us, as the lock was broken. It ruined the effect of really being locked in.

The live-action escape game has a rival in Kansas City: Breakout KC. Though I’ve never been to Breakout, I can give a few comparisons provided by friends and the venue websites that have convinced me I might find a better experience there.

From the get-go I was drawn toward the KC location. The website’s impressive design immediately draws the customer into the localized experience, while Locked In’s website still needs work. Breakout has four themed rooms, compared to Locked In’s one. According to what I’ve heard, Breakout also creates more of a host-customer connection.

Previously the only escape room in town, Locked In may not find their business as profitable as they thought. Breakout KC opened a second location, Breakout Lawrence, inside the old Mass Street Sweet Shoppe location on Friday, February 12.

Nevertheless, the $30 price tag on Breakout may sway some towards Locked In’s $15 fee. For half the price, Locked In seems like a quick and cheap alternative to going to a movie or Chipotle this weekend. For a real night out, I look forward to seeing what Breakout Lawrence offers.