Escape rooms providing challenging puzzles in Columbia

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COLUMBIA – Lots of people love solving riddles and puzzles. That explains the appeal of escape rooms.

The idea is simple: You’re locked in a room and given a scenario and some clues (typically three). Then you and a group of friends have to figure a way out of the room in the allotted time.

The number of escape room companies rose in the last few years. There are four in Columbia: Breakout CoMo, Conari Escape Rooms, Escape Plan and Epoch Escapes.

Jon Westhoff, co-owner of Breakout CoMo, said the concept was very new around the time the business opened.

“It’s funny that a lot of the initial idea to do it is based on the fact that there was nothing like this in the area,” he said.

Westhoff said the secrecy of the game is what makes it thrilling for customers.

“The mystery of it is huge. From a lot of people, who especially those doing it for the first time, you really don’t know what to expect,” he said.  “The whole concept is very, kind of, shrouded in mystery and like, 'how does this even work?'”

One escape room participant said having a group makes the game much more exciting.

“It’s a good bonding experience,” Paige Zilinskas said. “We all get to use our own strategies and our own strengths so everyone gets to shine in their own way.”