At Pawtucket’s Lock & Clue, find your inner skill

At Pawtucket’s Lock & Clue, find your inner skill

Businessman standing in keyhole opening with city view in concrete wall. 3D Rendering

PAWTUCKET – New England is one of the last areas of the world to see escape rooms become popular, says Jason Siner, co-owner and creative director of Lock & Clue Escape Rooms at the Hope Artiste Village, meaning many from the region still aren’t quite sure what to expect when they come through the doors.

At 1005 Main St. in Pawtucket, thrill seekers can anticipate the largest escape room business anywhere in the region, said Siner, with six unique rooms in operation and a seventh under construction, covering a total of more than 8,500 square feet.

The next largest such facility is in Boston, where Trapology covers more than 5,000 square feet, he said.

“Most in Providence are a fraction of our size,” he said. With size, he said, comes the ability to host large groups of people.

After opening Lock & Clue two years ago, Siner saw immediate success in a mill that’s becoming more of a destination for entertainment seekers. Restaurants and an old-fashioned bowling alley, BreakTime Bowl & Bar, are some of the attractions here, as is the Wintertime Farmers Market.

Escape rooms are live, interactive adventures where groups of up to 10 people use their collective brain power to solve puzzles and uncover clues to escape a themed environment in 60 minutes. Each room has its own story and level of difficulty, ranging from beginner to seasoned expert, and has a trained actor present to truly immerse guests in the experience. The facility recently added the first escape room in the area designed just for children, The Zany Zoo.

“The main thing about this as it continues to grow is that it appeals to all demographics,” said Siner. “This is the one thing that parents and their teenagers can go and do together and all enjoy on the same level.”

Escape rooms are also great for team building among coworkers or other groups, requiring everyone to work together in a pressure situation to solve problems, listen to each other and communicate well, and solve and accomplish their goal, all within an hour.

And unlike other team-building events, such as bowling, this one puts everyone on equal footing, said Siner, meaning you don’t have to be great at a particular sport or activity.

“Often people come in and they find a special skill they didn’t know about,” he said. Some learn they’re good at visually solving puzzles, others that they have a strength in logic puzzles, and still others that they’re really good at finding things.

“It’s very rewarding as a team or individually,” he said.

Siner’s father, Joseph, handles the business side of Lock & Clue, while Jason takes care of the creative development side. With a theatrical background, he’s able to create sets that have an “immersive quality,” like someone is inside a movie or video game.

And while many escape rooms have a teenage operator monitoring and keeping the storyline going in multiple rooms in a not-so-compelling way, said Siner, he feels it’s important to have a separate in-character operator for each room.

The Hope Artiste Village has come a long way toward being a destination for entertainment seekers who want to make a day of it, said Siner, but he thinks it’s still about “one entertainment venue away” from achieving its true potential.

The next venue under construction at Lock & Clue is a space-themed room. Recently added was The Sorcerer’s Curse, a medieval adult-themed room involving a mysterious portal transforming participants back to a time of dark magic.

Other rooms include:

• The Vault, an immersive experience transforming guests into a team of professional thieves tasked with stealing a priceless artifact from an infamous crime boss.

• The Inheritance, where participants are bequeathed an entire estate and must go to the home of the deceased where all the details are revealed.

• Green Room, including an invitation to appear on the live-streaming online game show “Natural Selection” only to learn there’s a much darker twist.

• And The Cellar, an advanced challenge room where participants investigate why neighbors of a butcher with an award-winning pork selection are disappearing and potentially end up hog-tied themselves.

“Better find your way out in an hour. The pigs are getting hungry,” states the synopsis of that room.

With the children’s room, youths ages 7-12 can to through all on their own, following a theme of an absentminded zookeeper locking them up in an animal enclosure and having to save the adults.

Prices are $28 per adult, and $23 for children and veterans. The experience is $3 cheaper on Thursdays.

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Jason Siner is co-owner and creative director of Lock & Clue Escape Rooms at the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket.