Review: Escape Room Indianapolis

Lyndsay Valadez , Reporter

At Escape Room Indianapolis, friends, teammates and sometimes strangers gather in one room for the same reason: to get out.

Jennifer and Brendon Harbron opened the Escape Room Indianapolis in October of 2015 to give players the challenge of escaping a thematically designed room by solving many puzzles.

And at this year’s JEA/NSPA Convention, a mobile version will be offered at the JW Marriott for Journalism 360 attendees.

After finding nothing like the Escape Room in Indiana, Brendon met up with another couple with similar intentions, and ultimately, instead of competing against one another, they joined forces at 200 S. Meridian St.

Jennifer always hoped for a booming business and says she is absolutely thrilled with how it all turned out.

“People get excited when they come,” she said. “They get to be interactive and do things without their phone.”

When walking in, people are greeted by a game adviser and must sign a waiver. They can enjoy some refreshments in the waiting room, and they’re eventually directed towards the room they’ve signed up for and given their scenario and their goal.

Brendon is the mastermind behind each game’s interactive activities. Typically, there are around 15 puzzles to solve per game. In the first couple of months of planning the rooms of the Escape Room, he carried a 100-page notebook around with him for spur of the moment ideas.

However, there is more to his madness than just writing things down. In each game, there are steps that must be taken to get from one clue to the next. The biggest challenge for Brendon is stringing puzzles together within the theme without giving away the whole scenario.

“When you pour a lot of yourself into something, you get a lot back,” Brendon said.

          Brendon also designs the mobile rooms. These rooms have been differently themed depending on the events where they’ve appeared. At the JEA/NSPA Convention, participants can enjoy a journalistic theme. Mobile rooms only allow 30 minutes. The price is $15 per person.

However, the cost for a full hour of play on site at Escape Room Indianapolis is $29 per person. Five rooms, “Jail Break,” “Hoosier Hysteria,” “Bank Heist,” “Art Gallery” and “KGB Interrogation,” are currently available on site. Five different rooms will be offered at a new location in Fishers when that facility opens on Nov. 16.

Not only do the rooms take a lot of work to plan out, they also take a lot of work to supervise. Each room has a game adviser who watches from the control room as participants solve and play. When participants get stuck, they can contact their game adviser through a walkie talkie and ask for a hint. But, only three hints are allowed.

Sometimes game advisers will make players work harder if they really want an extra hint. Kristen Ogburn, an Escape Room game adviser, tries to make the game fun for herself and the players. She once made her group pretend they were dinosaurs and battle each other.

“It was really funny watching them screaming and walking and falling on the ground,” Ogburn said.

Another of Escape Room’s game advisers, Brandon Farkas, agrees that it’s important for the workers at the Escape Room to enjoy themselves.

“That’s kind of the same mindset the employee should have as well: that it’s a fun job,” said  “Obviously you still gotta be serious and professional.”

Before Farkas started advising he, like others, went through training. There are three parts to advisor qualification. For the first couple of groups being monitored, the trainee shadows a trainer. By the fourth and fifth group, the trainee takes over under the watchful eye of the trainer. By the sixth group, as long as the trainee feels comfortable, he or she will advise the group alone while Jennifer checks on everyone in the control room.

For Brandon, Jennifer’s husband, the Escape Room’s purpose comes down to two things.   

“It’s about having fun and about helping people build relationships with one another,” he said. “That’s honestly what makes it so great.”