We Went Undercover with Elliot Ness... & Won!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness helped bring down Al Capone, then went on to clean up Cleveland of its mafia & mob ties, with undercover work that resulted in the jailing & firing of dozens of corrupt officers. He fell out of favor in the Cleveland area for his actions during the era of the Torso Murders, but his legacy remains here in the city - most popularly in the form of a beloved beer from Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Now, there's also an escape room named after him & dedicated to him!

Earlier this week, Mike & I were joined by our friends Jeremy & Taylor as we checked out Perplexity Games, an escape room company in Ohio City. I'd only done one escape room before, & it was a pretty bad one; Taylor has done three others, without any escapes; the guys have done lots of them, with equal successes & failures. We had no idea what to expect from this one - which made it all the better when this place turned out to be really fun.

The business is family-owned & operated, & Diana, the owner, brainstorms all of the escape rooms with her family. None of it is, like, bought boxed from China, so it all feels very personal, very high-quality, & very creative. They're even working on a Christmas-themed room for the holidays! Diana used to work in antiques, so she conceived of a 1930s-themed theme game that would allow her to outfit a room in period-appropriate decor.

Enter... the Eliot Ness Escape Room.

Our backstory was this: We were Ness's undercover operatives, trying to find a mafia ledger in a city hall office so that we could prove corruption. With 60 minutes on the clock, we got to work, starting in a small office that included nothing but a big, wooden desk, an old-fashioned telephone, & art on the walls - plus a big, locked door.

If you've ever done an escape room, you know nothing is ever as it seems, so we started rummaging through the desk, inspecting the artwork, searching a key, & doing anything else we could think of to get the game started. Each escape room includes at least two rooms, & for me, part of the fun is seeing what's behind closed doors - literally.

We finished the game with five minutes to spare, & I couldn't have been more proud (despite the fact that I was only, like, minimally helpful throughout the game). I felt like there should've been fanfare & confetti! Instead, we took a victory photo, thanked Diana profusely, & headed to Phnom Penh, an awesome Cambodian restaurant nearby, for a celebratory dinner.

It's hard to tell you about this escape room without giving too much away (which is also why I haven't included many photos). I don't want to spoil it! Suffice it to say, though, that it was really cool - lots of twists & turns & unexpected technology & hidden compartments & such.

What I loved about this game was that it appealed to all of our strengths. Again, without saying too much, there was a little bit of everything. Mike used some map skills; Jeremy bet on some horses; Taylor & I did some decoding... whenever one of us was stumped, another one of us usually had an idea to move things forward. The game played to everyone's skills, & while it definitely wasn't easy to beat, it was logical, thoughtful, & genuinely really fun to try to figure out.

If you're in the area, I can't recommend it highly enough - & the fact that it's Cleveland-themed makes it all the more fun. We have a friend, Kevin, who lives in D.C. & is known for his love of escape rooms. I have a strong suspicion we'll be hitting up the Christmas room when he's home for the holidays!

Disclaimer: I was invited to bring a few guests to try out Perplexity Games's Eliot Ness Room in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, as always, my own. We genuinely had so much fun!

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