Escape Rooms Have A Colourful Back Story & Eltham's Chronos One is Adding New Chapters
It’s the live-action attraction rated 11th out of 625 fun and games activities in London – so the Chronos One escape rooms in Eltham clearly deliver the goods. But how have escape rooms like Chronos One come to be so popular among thrill-seekers of all ages? And what’s their back story? The ideas they feature are centuries old – but we don’t have to go back too far to discover where and when the escape room phenomenon began.
How escape room craze spread like wildfire
Historically, humanity has always been fascinated by secrecy, codes-breaking and mystery – and the thrill of escaping!
From fictional sleuths like Sherlock Holmes to popular TV shows like Fort Boyard and The Crystal Maze, with its four imaginative ‘zones’ and mind-boggling, against-the-clock challenges, puzzle-solving and escaping confinement has always intrigued.
In the noughties, many “Escape the Room” video games featured the excitement of being immersed in a fantasy world, where logic, quick-thinking and teamwork were the keys to success. And it was a cult classic game, Crimson Rush, that really started the escape room ball rolling.
Created by Toshimitsu Takagi in 2004, a series of clues were contained in a crimson room – and the only way to escape was by using logic to solve the puzzles.
It was a massive hit - some people even called it 'Tagakism' in tribute to its developer - and, just three years later in 2007, innovative designer Takao Kato, of the Tokyo publishing company SCRAP, brought the first ever 'live action' escape room to life.
Held in a Tokyo warehouse, participants in Kato’s “Real Escape Game” had to solve puzzles and challenges in order to escape a locked room within a fixed time limit – sound familiar?
Very quickly, SCRAP knew it had a massive hit on its hands and the escape room phenomenon was born.
Escape rooms become a worldwide hit
News of this exciting new leisure concept spread like wildfire across the world, with the United States and Europe in particular loving its mix of intrigue, tension, imagination and excitement.
At the start, games often took place in bars and clubs, with very few permanent locations to be found. But once it became clear escape rooms were here to stay, operators clamoured to set up rooms where they could.
The first US escape room - “The Escape Game” - was opened in 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Meanwhile across the pond, by 2013 there were seven escape rooms in the UK. Just eight years later, there were more than 1,500.
But why did they become so popular, so quickly? Analysts put it down to a desire to participate, their fully immersive nature and the fact it's a great opportunity for team-building, or just a great experience with your mates.
Instead of watching characters on a screen, YOU become the characters! YOU get to be the hero! YOU can do all sorts - from breaking out of prison or taking part in daring heists to finding hidden treasure and much more.
Before the leisure industry all but ground to a halt in the Covid pandemic, there were an estimated 50,000 escape rooms worldwide. And now, with everything opened up again, that figure’s only set to rise further.
But while you can probably find an escape room in most countries nowadays, you don’t have to go far to experience top class escape room action – about as far as St Mary’s Place, Eltham, in fact!
Something for everyone at Chronos One
Chronos One’s four fantastic games, with their brilliant sets, cover carefully selected genres and scenarios.
Take your pick from:The Temple of the Forbidden Idol - You've been sent on a mission by Professor Jones and after journeying through the jungle, you've stumbled across the Temple of the Enfada Idol! But in order to beat your rival Dr Belloq and his mercenaries to it, you've got to solve the Temple's puzzles - and time is running out.
Return To Neverland - We're all familiar with JM Barrie's fantastic story about the boy who never grew up - but here it is in escape room form! During the dead of night, you have an unexpected guest in your bedroom, Tinkerbell the fairy! She tells you Peter Pan has been kidnapped and asks you for help - and who can resist a fairy in distress? Travel with her to Neverland and save Peter from the evil Captain Hook.
Nightmare on Ripper Street - Gather your detectives because a tip-off has come in about Jack the Ripper's whereabouts. Can you surround the location and catch Jack before he escapes?
Keep Calm - It's called 'Keep Calm' but that might be easier said than done at Chronos One's most difficult game. It's the middle of the Blitz - you and your crack team of British intelligence agents have been sent to search through a fellow KIA agent's office, where you discover they aren't who you thought they were! Now the race is on to discover their secrets and stop their plans in time.
They're all fantastic fun and are perfect examples of the sort of "experiential entertainment" game-lovers craved in the noughties as the escape room boom began.
People no longer just want to sit and watch - they want to DO! As with virtual reality games, adventure attractions, themed conventions like Comic Con and even music festivals, escape rooms are all about the experience - and at Chronos One, you get an immersive experience that's second to none.
Each game lasts 60 minutes,with Temple of the Forbidden Idol and Return To Neverland particularly popular with teams who have children playing with them (the other two might be a bit too scary for youngsters). Be aware, though - players under-16 must be accompanied by an adult.
So what are you waiting for? Escape rooms have a short but colourful history and new, exciting chapters are being written every day - so why not write one of your own at Chronos One? And don't forget to bring your pals!