The wait is finally over.
On Nov. 7, Columbus' first-ever puzzle-filled adventure room opened its doors to the public. Since then, 25 groups of people have taken a crack at the three puzzle rooms STAR Escape Rooms at 2705 13th St. offers.
Co-owners Aaron Muller and Randy Mueller said there was a wave of relief after the grand opening. They said the business has been ready to open for weeks, but that they had to wait for inspection and approval from the state fire marshal.
STAR, which stands for “Scenario Themed Adventure Room,” hosts physical adventure games where players have to solve puzzles and tackle challenges in order to complete a set goal and win, as previously reported by The Columbus Telegram.
The business is located on the second floor of the former Schweser's department store building but has its door located on the street level of 13th Street. The 2,400-square-foot venue has three separate rooms, each with their own unique themes and up to 16 to 20 puzzles to solve before the 60-minute timer ends.
The rooms are Granny Schmidt’s Kitchen, which requires players to hunt for a secret apple pie recipe in a household kitchen; The Last Frontier, which has players take on the roles of a group of lost hikers and their struggle to survive in the Alaskan wilderness; and Will Power, where players search for the will of a recently deceased famous movie scriptwriter in his home office.
Since opening, the best part for Mueller is “watching the smiles, knowing (people) had a good time. They walk out all bubbly and giggly."
Rooms are designed for six people but can accommodate up to eight players. Any small groups are paired together, so it’s possible players have to work together with strangers in order to win. Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Younger children are discouraged from playing because the puzzles may be too difficult for them to accomplish.
Each room is fitted with a camera and microphone so employees can see and listen in on what’s happening in each room. A TV screen is used by employees to communicate with players via pictures and text as to not break the immersion of the game. This screen also displays the time.
If struggling, players can ask for hints, which will be displayed on the monitor. But hints will only be given out if all players are in agreement and using more than three hints will make the team disqualified from being on the leaderboards.
“We’ve still had some people fail, but it seems like people have fun no matter what,” Muller said.
It’s $24 per player and bookings can be made online at www.starescaperooms.com or on the business's Facebook page. Walk-ins are accepted, but there’s a chance a room may not be available. Hours are 6-10 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 1-10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The owners said they plan to launch an advertising campaign to promote the escape room in the near future. The two also said they plan to add additional rooms, such as one that gets swapped out with each holiday. So people should be on the lookout for winter-themed and Valentine's Day-themed rooms in 2019.
Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.