At the end of a long week watching Olympic athletes push themselves to their greatest physical, emotional, and mental heights, I was ready to do the same. Except I didn't have to fly all the way to Pyeongchang. No, my moment would happen much closer to home at Escape Hotel, an immersive escape room experience in Los Angeles. And this time it was all about Tomb Raider, the film from Warner Bros. starring Alicia Vikander as adventurer and all around badass Lara Croft.
Having grown up on the Tomb Raider N64 game, I felt pretty confident in my abilities to channel Lara Croft. I mean, it's only been 20 years (!!), so what could've changed? Surely I was as mentally and physically tough as I had been at age 10.
First of all, technology has changed A LOT. Two decades after my introduction to a very two-dimensional and slightly blurry Lara Croft game, I slipped on some Virtual Reality goggles (which magically I could use without my glasses) and jumped into the world of Tomb Raider. Through only the use of a small remote, I slid down ropes, scaled walls, and completed puzzles during a seven-minute playtest. Not my 1997 Tomb Raider game experience, but it certainly felt more real. Damn, I'm totally gonna go out and scale a wall only using a pickaxe just to prove I can now.
Surely I'll use these newly honed skills in the Tomb Raider Escape Room. I'm no novice when it comes to escape rooms, but for this one we were only given 15 minutes to complete the challenge. Our lovely guide assured us we would have no problem finishing the room, but anything less than the best time is a failure in my book. We were off to a slow start, and the key to any successful escape room experience is communication. As much as I wanted to go solo Lara Croft, it wasn't the best way to win, and carrying around an actual flashlight that wasn't an app on my phone already made me feel like it was an adventure.
Our team of five quickly readjusted after solving the first puzzle and were on a roll. The clock was ticking as we entered a room that felt like we were on a gross, dirty ship -- just like Lara Croft in the film trailer! But let's be honest, it probably smelled better.
I did a great job pretending I had any idea how boats work, because that's what Lara Croft would do. After gaining our sea legs, we climbed through a cave into the final puzzle room. This is where everyone left me alone in a creepy room with skulls. Thanks, guys! Teamwork makes the dream work.
I took the task of guarding my father's journal seriously (at this point I've decided I'm 100% the Lara Croft of this group), because I knew it was the final piece in the puzzle. Plus, who knows what embarrassing family stuff he wrote down in that thing. Anyway, we successfully escaped, but I didn't even get to use a pickaxe or swing across a gaping hole on a rope. Oh well, there's always next time.
Since we were the first group to go (something I learned wasn't necessarily the worst position to be in after watching Lindsay Vonn win bronze skiing), we had no idea how our score would stack up against the adventurers behind us. When I left at the end of the night, I asked whether anyone had beaten our time. They hadn't.
Yep, I am totally Lara Croft now.