The quest for the ideal Columbus escape room

Dave Ghose

The escape-room craze is missing something in Central Ohio: challenges that tap into our Buckeye sensibilities.

Escape rooms havebeen popping up all over Columbus over the past couple of years. Everywhere you turn, a new venue is opening that offers groups of friends or coworkers the chance-for about $15 to $35 a head-to plunge into the middle of an exciting storyline from which the only escape is solving a series of increasingly complicated puzzles. The challenges and themes are pretty universal: terrorism, global pandemic, alien invasion and, of course, zombies. In Central Ohio, what we really need are team-building exercises that tap into our unique Buckeye sensibilities. Here are a few possibilities.

Scenario:You're a Midwestern governor betting your entire presidential campaign on a big showing in the Granite State.

Challenge:Your strategy is so effective that New Hampshire voters trap you in an endless town-hall meeting.

Solution:Make a break for it after confusing the audience with a meandering monologue about your hot wife.

Scenario:A power-mad University of Michigan grad remakes Columbus in the image of the college town up north.

Challenge:You're sentenced to a reeducation camp, where you're forced to watch an endless loop of Desmond Howard highlights and eat mass quantities of organic health food.

Solution:Overthrow maize-and-blue tyranny by developing a method for weaponizing quinoa salad.

Scenario:You're an urban explorer sneaking into the closed Campus dive bar.

Challenge:Startled gutter-punk squatters lock you in the subterranean tavern's notoriously unhygienic lavatory.

Solution:Turn bacteria into artisanal cheese, attracting hipsters who not only liberate you but also pay you $5 an ounce.

Scenario:You're a confused out-of-towner looking for directions to Ohio Stadium who accidentally visits the lonely monument to Upper Arlington's favorite son.

Challenge:You're the only visitor in the place (duh) when a security guard locks you in the building and leaves for the night.

Solution:Find Tiger Woods' phone number on the women's bathroom wall and ask him to rescue you. He's got nothing better to do.

Scenario:A new lactose-intolerant Ohio State Fair director demands the fair's beloved bovine sculptures be crafted out of soybean margarine instead of butter.

Challenge:You're the fair's PR person. A mob of angry reporters corners you in the dairy barn, demanding an explanation for your boss' apostasy.

Solution:Hypnotize them with deep-fried gummy worms.

Scenario:You're a Downtown commuter driving to your children's after-school daycare in North Columbus.

Challenge:It's pouring outside, Route 315 is a parking lot, and you need to reach your destination in five minutes or face your third late fee of the school year.

Solution:There is none. You're screwed, buddy.