Only a handful of people are left on earth. You are one of them, but you’re trapped, imprisoned by beasts who have taken over the planet and are using what few humans are left as specimens for their terrible experiments.
You must escape. Your only weapon — your mind.
Sounds scary, right? Maybe, but it’s also a lot of fun.
It’s actually the premise of the first puzzle in a unique business started by two Triad High School graduates who now live in Highland. Friends Kyle West, 28, and Ryan Mueller, 36, opened the Beast Escape Room in Glen Carbon on Sept. 23.
“The escape room is a 60-minute adventure where guests will face a number of challenges to escape. Guests will have to find things, decode things and engineer things to escape,” said West, a 2009 SIUE grad who studied business and mass communications.
Players are closed into rooms. Doors and drawers have been padlocked, but hints to find needed keys are hidden within reach. Players must use their savvy to find the clues and their intellect to decode the riddle.
“Some of the challenges they’ll face are designed to be extra confusing until they collect all the pieces they need to complete the puzzles,” West said.
The game is meant to exercise your brain. There’s no heavy lifting required.
“All the locks unlock easily. You don’t need to Chuck Norris the drawers,” West said.
Think more Harry Houdini meets Sherlock Holmes.
“None of our challenges are physical. That’s what sports are for. We’re focused on challenging brains, not brawn. When we brief our guests this is one of the things we have to stress just to make sure no one is kicking down doors to escape,” West said.
While the back story of the game is spooky, the escape room is not a haunted house.
“Nothing is going to pop out and make you scream. The urgency is what raises guests adrenaline,” West said. “There’s a clock ticking in the room, and it’s hard to ignore the time slipping away.”
Rooms are uncluttered, but for a few pieces of furniture, locks and props.
“It looks very, very ordinary, but it’s anything but ordinary,” West said.
The game is designed for two to eight people.
“The puzzles are challenging, and we don’t recommend these games for kids under 10,” West said.
West said he had never heard of escape rooms until a few months ago when some of his family from Fort Wayne, Ind., was in town for a visit.
“We were looking for something fun to do and came across one in St. Louis,” he said.
After just one game, he was hooked.
“On the way home, I was planning my own puzzles,” said West, who also owns a Highland-based photo booth company, Photo Beast.
He enlisted Mueller, who went to Ranken Technical College and now works as a cabinet maker in St. Louis, to partner with him for the business venture.
Currently, the pair has just the one room open, but they are working on another that will be able to hold up to 12 people.
“We are working on a second game right now. If guests liked their first experience, we’d hope they’d consider coming back to try out our other challenge. We’re hoping to have it completed by mid-October,” West said.
In the future, the puzzles could change.
“We are under the impression that we’ll know it’s time to redesign our games when our bookings begin to slow down.” West said. “For guests that can’t wait to have the experience again, there are several more escape rooms in St. Louis. The escape room industry is a friendly one. We really like Mastermind Room Escape and Can You Escape St. Louis.”
So what do you win if you escape?
“Pride,” West said. “If you are lucky enough to escape, you’ll get a photo on our wall.”
If you fail the challenge, you can ask to hear the answer. Or, you can always try again some other time.
“If guests choose, we will give them the walk through if they don’t make it,” West said. “The experience will keep guests thinking about what they could have done differently for days after the challenge.”
Beast Escape Room
At A Glance
Location: 4517 S. Illinois Route 159, Glen Carbon
Booking: By appointment, made online
Phone: (618) 530-7341