Saturday, July 4th, 2020

PuzzleQuest Story


PUZZLEQUEST

Experience the fun and excitement of executing a great escape

by Candance Moore


The PuzzleQuest staff (from left): Samantha Settle, <BR>Kaylene Compton, Sarah Seville and Matthew Klasky.

The PuzzleQuest staff (from left): Samantha Settle,
Kaylene Compton, Sarah Seville and Matthew Klasky.

A group of friends looking for some good clean fun step into a building in Chesapeake. Moments later, they find themselves escorted to a Western jail for a crime they didn’t commit. The cell is locked, the lights are dimmed, and a door slams in the distance to announce their isolation. No one listens to their protests. No one calls an attorney. The friends are left to their own devices if they want to be free. An hour later, if all goes well, they’ll be free indeed—and this is the good clean fun that they signed up for!

It’s called an escape room experience, and it’s one of America’s fastest-growing forms of entertainment. This highly immersive experience allows players of almost any age or fitness level to get in on the action. Each room has a theme that comes with its own unique mystery to solve. Players must utilize a variety of skills, ranging from math to vocabulary to problem-solving, in order to win. Simple physical tasks and hands-on activities bring the game to life. The time limit is an hour, and many players need every single minute to break free.

Chesapeake’s escape room headquarters is PuzzleQuest in Great Bridge, only two miles from City Hall. It’s a theme park experience in a convenient local setting. Birthdays, team outings, date nights, and family bonding events are perfect occasions for an escape room experience. Although special occasions are typical times for people to play, any group of friends in the mood for safe, clean fun can enjoy playing any time. PuzzleQuest adventures also make fantastic gifts.

“It’s all about having good light-hearted fun,” PuzzleQuest owners Amy and Herb Fisher explain. “These rooms promote teamwork and critical thinking skills. They bring people together. When a family emerges victorious, everyone is smiling.”

Winners leave with take-home prizes, but Herb says the smiles are the real trophies. Watching from central command in the Spy Room, the staff keeps an eye on players and can speak to each room through an intercom. Game Masters allow a little cheating  (extra clues) when they see a group of beginners in trouble, especially when children are involved. Official winners are those who achieve success in less than an hour with no unauthorized help.


The Fisher Family (from left): Amy, Herb, Benjamin, Tory, William, Joshua and Tiffany.

The Fisher Family (from left): Amy, Herb, Benjamin, Tory, William, Joshua and Tiffany.


If a Western jailbreak doesn’t sound appealing, several other options are open at the Chesapeake location. There’s a Medieval castle that may or may not contain the Holy Grail. There’s a hacking game in a cyber geeks basement that involves fighting digital crime. Archeology fans enjoy a visit to a Mayan temple in the jungle. Then there’s a three-room time machine experience for those who want an extra-special challenge.

Each game is called a room, but game rooms are actually quite spacious multi-room settings that create a real feeling of immersion. Two skilled players can win, but a team of four or five has much better odds, and even groups of ten can comfortably fit in a game room. Cell phones are forfeited into secure boxes inside the game room. There’s an intercom to call the Spy Room for help, but no contact with the outside world is allowed.  A team’s collective skills and knowledge are put to the test, and a dash of diplomacy is strategically required.


“It’s all about having
good light-hearted fun.
These rooms promote teamwork
and critical thinking skills.
They bring people together.
When a family emerges victorious, everyone is smiling.”

—Herb Fisher


Businesses and organizations have started to see the value in escape rooms for team-building exercises. PuzzleQuest has a conference area for business meetings, complete with a presentation screen, and complimentary beverages, that can hold about 24 people. Smaller teams are broken off to play different rooms. This method is also popular for birthday parties, youth groups, academic programs, and book clubs.

Herb and Amy opened PuzzleQuest in 2017. It’s the only escape room center in western Hampton Roads. The Fishers are a tight-knit churchgoing family who chose to invest in something positive for their community. Herb, a contractor by trade, develops elaborate indoor theme environments that rival more expensive attractions. Sons Joshua and William, who both work in electrical and mechanical engineering, collaborate with Herb and Amy to craft the complex mysteries. Youngest son Benjamin is the resident wordsmith and sound engineer for the rooms, as well as a staff member. Rooms are tested to ensure they’re challenging but not impossible.

“These are not franchise rooms with cookie-cutter mystery games,” Herb explains. “We work together as a family in the very creation of each room, adding touches and references we pull from real life. Even if you’ve played many escape rooms elsewhere, you haven’t played ours.”


The PuzzleQuest staff (from left): Samantha Settle, <BR>Kaylene Compton, Sarah Seville and Matthew Klasky.

The PuzzleQuest staff (from left): Samantha Settle,
Kaylene Compton, Sarah Seville and Matthew Klasky.

The Fishers are flexible for special requests. They’ve been known to hide an engagement ring as the winning prize in a room, set up a baby gender reveal, and conspire with customers in all sorts of secret plots. As long as it’s good clean fun, Herb can probably find a way to make it work.

The quality and customer service at PuzzleQuest have earned an impressive 4.6-star rating on Google reviews. Recently, Brandon’s Great Escapes at the website Break The Miniternet recognized PuzzleQuest for having three of the top 20 escape rooms in Virginia and eastern North Carolina. With five-game options onsite, repeat visits are frequent, and “best score” listings in the lobby up the ante. Herb says he’ll stick with the five rooms at present until plenty of people have had a chance to play them. Rooms get retired to bring in new games as needed.

At first, new customers found PuzzleQuest through word of mouth in the escape player community, with some players driving from Richmond and beyond. When the Fishers knew they had a great product, they set out to share it with the general public. Escape rooms can help a beginner succeed and make a skilled player work a bit harder, depending on how much the staff contributes.

Walk-in customers are welcome as long as the rooms aren’t booked up. For customers interested in a specific game, online booking in advance is recommended. Sometimes different groups of customers can merge into one large team if everyone agrees. Still, the rule is generally first come, first served. The website has a contact process for special requests.

“As soon as people give us a try, they love us,” Herb says. “We’re putting smiles on faces across the region. That’s the fun part for me.”




Puzzle Quest

1245 Cedar Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322

757-410-8379
www.puzzlequestva.com