Breakout gives Tuscaloosa tense team-building experience

The door slams shut and the locks close down. Though this may sound like a scene from a horror movie, this is the draw of Tuscaloosa’s one and only room escape game, known as Breakout.

In town since May 2015, Breakout is a room escape game where groups ranging from two to eight people are locked inside of a themed room and given one hour to find four-digit codes. These codes will then unlock padlocks throughout the room that will allow the group to escape the room.

Owners Kim Parker, Lori White and Candace Kizziah watch over the teams through cameras in the room to watch the teams’ progress and give them hints.

"You really get a sense of who gets along better, who’s the better leader, who’s a great follower and who’s more quiet and works alone,” Kizziah said.

If the team gets stumped on a puzzle, they are given three free clues to help solve it. Additional clues come at a time penalty, removing three minutes from the timer.

Parker said that the biggest problem teams come across is communication issues. Because some puzzles are dependent on different parts of the room, if a team doesn’t talk to each other, often the solution won’t come together until late in the game.

“In all of these rooms, we want you to be able to make it so you work together,” White said. “We’ve had people go in that are just two and it’s difficult to get out of the room with only two people because most of our games require a lot of people working together. ... Team building is our biggest thing.”

Though Breakout currently hosts four rooms: ‘Derailed,’ ‘Horror Hotel,’ ‘Detention’ and 'Who Dun It?,’ the business swaps the rooms out with new ideas each year to keep the puzzle solving fresh. It takes about 3-4 months to create a new room, each with puzzles that are designed to challenge groups, regardless of age or experience.

“For instance, there is a board in [Derailed] that has roller tracks all over it and you can spin those tracks to move in certain directions,“ White said. “If you line those tracks up appropriately, you will have a four-digit code that opens a lock within that room.”

Kizziah said that when creating a new room, the team works together to create an ending to the escape room first and works backwards to craft the puzzles around it. For example, if a team doesn’t leave Derailed in the allotted time, the train that the puzzle takes place in will derail and crash.

Currently, ‘Who Dun It?’ is the most challenging room at Breakout, with an escape rate of 26 percent. The other rooms share the same fate, with all rooms having an escape rate of under 50 percent.

The owners of Breakout said that public outreach through social media has been positive, with many finding the business through sites like Facebook and TripAdvisor. Groups that go through the games can have their picture taken and posted on Breakout’s Facebook page.

“There’s nothing like it here,” Parker said. "Tuscaloosa deserved it.”

Breakout is located at 2310 14th Street. Rooms can be booked online at breakouttuscaloosa.com, for $22 a person.

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