Escaping Under High Pressure

Previewing brand new escape room in Irvine


My team, Hiba Totakhail, Lillian Wu, Jubilee Pham and Bill Chang celebrating our victory

With my senior year quickly coming to an end, I have only begun to realize how little time I have left to be with my friends. When I was invited to beta-test Square Room Escape’s new room, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to invite a few friends I did not get to spend enough time with.


The Anticipation


Luckily, everyone in my group has been in an escape room before. Usually when people hear escape room for the first time, they get a little suspicious. I’d have to explain “oh no, it’s just a live action game where you and your friends work together to find clues, solve puzzles and escape a room under a time limit.”

Since we all knew what we were in for, we waited in the lobby full of anticipation. We had no idea what to expect since the owners, Ryan King and Mike Lou, did not reveal the theme to us before. Personally, I have been to both Mario and Harry Potter themed escape rooms here, so I knew whatever puzzles waited for us in that room would test our limits as a team.




We stepped through the door and immediately were immersed in the interior of a submarine. I experienced an “uh oh” moment because there were foreign buttons, screens and other machines I didn’t know how to make sense of. However, we started exploring every corner of the room as a team and shared the information we found.

Little by little, we were able to get a grasp of this foreign environment. That is, until we got stuck.


The Aha Moment


Now, there is a moment in an escape room when the team starts to run out of ideas. Because of this, there is the option of asking for a hint from the operator through the walkie-talkie given to us.

We looked at the clock and were tempted to reach for that walkie-talkie, but we resisted. We shared our ideas about how to progress.

Through trial and error, the mystery started to unravel itself. Mistake after mistake, we finally opened the door.


Looking back


Surprisingly, we were able to complete the room with still 26 minutes on the clock. When King told us we set the record time, we gave each other a celebratory smile.

The whole experience felt personal; the room expressed Lou’s engineering background and King’s computer science degree in an overall enjoyable experience.

A fair warning to the readers though: our team raised the bar for you guys by beating the record time. King said they’re probably going to increase the difficulty of the room when it’s open to public.

My team, Hiba Totakhail, Lillian Wu, Jubilee Pham and Bill Chang celebrating our victory
My team, Hiba Totakhail, Lillian Wu, Jubilee Pham and Bill Chang celebrating our victory