I distinctly remember six years ago, a copy of Christopher
Nolan’s film being given to me. Some of my friends who watched the said film
raved about the thriller while some were just confused the whole time they were
watching it. Before caving in and watching the film, I asked a cinephile friend
about what he thought of Inception. He did not rave nor boo the film, he simply
told me to watch Inception with the subtitles turned on, not to miss a word nor
dialogue and be the judge myself.
I loved the film. In fact, after finishing it the first
time, I watched the movie again before going to bed that day. Going to bed that
night, there was a certain thrill to the thought of controlling your dreams, and
even entering and controlling peoples. How one can create a maze with layers
and layers of maze and eventually get out of it.
And that’s why I found myself signing up to try the newest
breakout room in Bonifacio Global City--Totem Manila. This is not my first time
in a breakout room. I first tried it inside the back of a truck while my
friends and I vainly tried to find a “stolen” chemical formula. But alas, we
ran out of time with only one lock left to crack. Going to the venue, I thought
that this was my chance to redeem myself of that awful non-victory.
Throughout the movie, I wanted to be Ariadne or Arthur. I
want to create labyrinths within dreams and even have an epic fight scene with
a bad guy with zero gravity. I wanted to solve the puzzle. Heck, I wanted to
beat the best time. But a few minutes after being locked inside one of the
escape rooms of Totem Manila, I realized that I would have probably died really
early in the movie.
You see, we were briefed early on that the room is
difficult. We were even told that the first clue was already with us. We had to
solve puzzles in the dark thinking this or that would lead us to the first key—or
at least the light switch. It took as more than 10 minutes (and a lot more
pride swallowing) to wave our arms in front of the CCTV, signaling to our game
masters that we were, at the very start of the game, utterly lost.
The moment when the light was finally switched on, our team
was finally able to take a good look around the small room. Unlike my first
jaunt in an escape room (it was messily filled with crates and props), we were
placed in a clean small room with locks neatly arranged and maps and notes
posted on the wall. One might think that being inside Totem Manila’s escape
room would be easy since it was bare and with minimal props. In reality, I
found it more eerie. During my first escape room experience, I knew that the
props were there for a reason and would somehow or at least eventually lead me
to clues, but in Totem Manila’s bare room, there’s that panic I felt when I did
not know where or how to start.
While I can’t
describe most of the puzzles (you have to try them yourself!), most of them left
our team clueless. We waved our arms a total of three times, signaling our need
for clues and helplessness. The game was not easy. In absolutely no time, we
were trudging back out the room with heavy hearts filled with defeat.
On the dreadful way back, I started thinking where we went
wrong or where we should have looked first. And an annoying flashback to when
my friend told me how to watch the movie in order to understand it: turn on the
subtitles and to not miss a word or dialogue. That day in Totem Manila’s escape
room, we clearly did not do both. Maybe an Inception replay is due.
Totem Philippines is located at Suite 302, McKinley Park Residences, 31st Street corner 3rd Avenue, across Stopover Pavilion.