Puzzle Break is pivoting by necessity since we can’t gather for parties at the local escape room anymore. The Seattle-based company said the new game provides all the challenge and team collaboration of physical escape rooms in a guided, virtual experience.
The new offering is available for companies, groups, and teams of all sizes starting today. The game is available on Zoom now and will be hitting other platforms later.
Other companies have done this as well, such as Ubisoft, which has made escape rooms for virtual reality.
The team’s physical escape room designers made The Grim Escape. Puzzle Break hopes it will appeal to companies looking for new ways to spark collaboration among remote employees. The game is the first in a series of new virtual experiences to be released by Puzzle Break in response to the need for engaging, team-building experiences for teams newly remote due to COVID-19.
Founded in 2013, Puzzle Break’s headquarters is in Seattle, with 20 operations in New York, Massachusetts, and on half of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s fleet. Puzzle Break is the brainchild of avid puzzle maker and company CEO Nate Martin, who is known as a pioneer of escape rooms.
In addition to those locations, Puzzle Break operates team-building escape room challenges for companies at offsites, retreats, and corporate events.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Martin closed all of the company’s locations in March and furloughed most of the Puzzle Break team as in-person team-building became a potential safety risk. With the dramatic increase in remote work, Martin recognized the need for creative ways for companies to promote company culture and foster connection among employees. In just three weeks, Martin and his remaining employees developed the new virtual experience.
Martin said in a statement that it was both “necessary and heartbreaking to close our in-person experiences.” But he also said the team has been inspired by how the magic of escape rooms can work online for this new normal.
Puzzle Break’s The Grimm Escape is an online version of one of its most popular escape challenges. When a team signs on for the new game, they are greeted by an online guide (dubbed the fairy godparent), who introduces the story, begins players on their journey, and provides hints to teams that require assistance.
The Grimm Escape costs $25 per person, and so far virtual game slots are selling out within 12 hours of availability. Groups can range in size from five to more than 100 players. Since soft launch last week, Puzzle Break has brought back 50% of his furloughed employees. The company now has a dozen employees back at work.