Growing up playing as many video games as I have in my life, it is common place among action-adventure and RPG’s to come across puzzles. You’re stuck in a room/tomb/church or whatever and the mechanism has locked you in until you figure out the wildly elaborate puzzle. Does it sound familiar? If so, then maybe you have played an escape room before. I got my chance to try Tick Tock Escape Games and it was quite the experience.
Tick Tock Escape Games is a Kansas City metro based operation located in Overland Park, Kansas. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Kansas City? That’s in Missouri!” While that is true, the Kansas City metro spreads from suburbs east of KC all the way to suburbs to the west of the state line. That being said, this is a great project to take on if you’re ever visiting Kansas City for business or pleasure.
Tick Tock is founded by Roger Wagy and currently includes three rooms to choose from: Central Intelligence, Beasley’s Billions and Pyramid Paradox. Being the massive history and archaeology nerd that I am, Pyramid Paradox had my name on it. The building is a strip mall seemingly out of place among the higher and newer buildings in the area. Walking in, it seems more like a travel agency than a game building. “Escape” movie posters line the hall to the rooms in a fun theme: Escape from New York, Escape from Hong Kong, all of them challenging you to beat the room ahead of you.
An interesting addition to this company is the ability to race your friends to the finish. You can either have on party attempt to solve a room together, or have two parties battle each other to see who can make it out of the room first. I got to witness first hand two rooms battle it out and it’s very enjoyable to watch how different group’s dynamics can affect the ability to solve the room.
Our host for the evening was a man named Joe Dix. In the very best way possible, he was like the dad driving carpool who makes all the jokes. He was entertaining, over-the-top, funny, and the engineer to all of the rooms. You can tell just by listening to him talk that these rooms are his babies and he’s immensely proud (as he should be).
My first impression of the room was how intense it felt. It was claustrophobic, really warm and slightly foggy. The lighting was low and there were locks everywhere. I was so damn excited. Without giving anything in the room away, I will tell you, that count-down clock makes the stress of hurrying feel like a weight. As we scoured the room for clues and the clock hit 9 minutes in bright red font, the stress hit and you could feel everyone hurry a little faster.
So, did we make it out of the Pyramid Paradox alive and on time?
We sure did, with 5 minutes to spare! The room was difficult and insanely fun. It is crucial for your group to work as a team. I felt just like Nathan Drake in “Uncharted”. I got a chance to speak with the owner about Tick Tock Escape Games.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What made you want to open an escape room business?
Roger Wagy: In 2015, I discovered escape rooms while on vacation. At that time, the rooms were extremely popular, but were very basic in design. I knew that by programming micro-controllers and using other technology with special effects, I could design a much more interactive and enjoyable experience.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Had you done escape rooms before opening your own?
RW: I played a few games here and there, but mostly did a lot of research to make sure mother other rooms were missing the hi-tech enhancements I wanted to focus on.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Did you (or do you) play games (board, video or otherwise) that require solving puzzles?
RW: To be honest, no. To me it’s much more fun to enter a real environment and interact with cool elements within it. You never know what’s going to happen next, and when it’s happening in real life, it’s just an awesome experience.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Are you planning on adding any other rooms?
RW: Yes! At our current facility we have room for one more game, and the development is in process. Sorry, I can’t reveal the theme yet, but we are putting a lot into it so it should not disappoint. I have a few other themes I’d like to develop as well, but they will have to wait until we have a larger facility (someday).
Nightmarish Conjurings: What’s your favorite room that you have?
RW: Pyramid Paradox, the game that you played is my favorite so far. But our next game may even be better! We’ll have to wait and see just how well it turns out.
I also had a couple of questions for Joe Dix, the engineer for all of the rooms.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Around how long on average does it take for you to build and program a room?
JD: Four months, but then after that there is always tweaking to make it more awesome
Nightmarish Conjurings: Which room that’s available currently is your favorite?
JD: Favorite? I have so much vested in each of these games, I don’t know if I can have a hands-down winner, but right now I am proud of how Central Intelligence is performing.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Have you solved any escape rooms before building them?
JD: I finally played one for my birthday about a month before our first game, Beasley’s Billions, opened to the public.
Thank you so much to Tick Tock Escape Games for letting Nightmarish Conjurings into your world while letting us escape the pyramid alive. You can book a room HERE. It is great for companies looking to do team building exercises, birthdays and, if you’re in town for a convention, it’s a great way to end a busy convention day.