21 Keys offers thrilling escape room experiences

Annika Schmidt  

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5 out of 5 stars 

     After experiencing quarantine at home, what better way to celebrate the resumption of in-person activities than willingly getting locked in a room full of puzzles — and not the jigsaw kind some of us attempted during lockdown back in 2020. 

     21 Keys Escape Rooms is located just five minutes from the UCCS campus and offers the opportunity for team building, family bonding or just fun with friends in one of four themed escape rooms. I attempted two of the rooms — one successfully and the other unsuccessfully.  

     All of the rooms have a similar setup; you and a group of your friends or family are locked in a room and have 60 minutes to find clues, unlock compartments and solve puzzles to escape the room before your time is up.  

     But be warned: These rooms are definitely a challenge, so go prepared for a brain-stimulating 60-minutes. 

     I originally went to 21 Keys Escape Rooms for a team-building outing with other staff members at the Scribe. The first room we did, Project Iceworm, had a difficulty level of 9/10 — the hardest of the four. It wasn’t my first escape room, but the first one I’d done in a while. 

     The theme of Project Iceworm is based on a real, top secret military program from the 1950s. As part of the plot, ice around the site has melted, revealing the location of the top-secret base modern day. In this scenario, participants get to the bunker first and must deactivate the site’s missiles to prevent mass destruction. 

     The escape room is intricately decorated to match the missile launch site theme. It is also played in the dark with provided flashlights and contains a series of well-designed puzzles that involve numbers and clues, among other details which I will conveniently leave out and let you discover on your own. 

     As a team, we didn’t solve Project Iceworm in time before the “nuclear warheads” could be deactivated. Despite the catastrophic implications, the only thing truly damaged was each of our own competitive egos. We were so determined for a victory that we just had to book another room for the same weekend. 

     Upon entry to the second room two days later, one thing became absolutely clear: 21 Keys has won at designing the aesthetics of each room to match the theme and plot of the escape. Sacred Lotus, with a difficulty rating of 8/10, is centered around the retrieval of an ancient artifact from a small Japanese village. 

     This room had a series of clever puzzles, but this time we were in a larger space and the lights were on so it was easier to see what we were doing — a nice change from Project Iceworm — but this was still a tricky room. 

     I enjoyed Sacred Lotus more than Project Iceworm, but part of the reason is because we were able to successfully escape with four minutes to spare.  

     The whole concept is somewhat addicting and the intricate details and well-crafted puzzles  heightened the experience for all of us. 

     21 Keys Escape Rooms charge $30 per person. If you go and then book another room while you are there, you can take advantage of their 20% off discount. 

     I can recommend this location to anyone looking for a challenge and cannot wait to return and take on another escape room.  

The exterior of the escape room. 21 Keys offers 4 different themed escape rooms with a max of 6 people per room. Photo by Megan Moen.