Fun and Learning

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.


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