Rachel Dean: Fear factor makes escape rooms fun
Eager to see what all the hype was about, a group of us went to an escape room as part of a friend's birthday celebrations.
We chose the Jack the Ripper-themed room hosted by Timescape in Castle Street, Belfast.
The introduction set the mood: "It's 10:45am on November 9, 1888. You are the responding detectives to a crime scene in London's Whitechapel district.
"You step inside the room of Mary Kelly, the Ripper's latest victim. You must stay focused in your search for clues and return to Scotland Yard to piece together the identity of the serial killer.
"You only have 60 minutes before the Ripper flees London for ever, depriving Great Britain of the truth ... who is Jack the Ripper?"
It turned out the room we picked was classed as one of the more difficult ones - my only thought was "Great".
The moment we stepped through the door, we all embraced our detective roles with a laughable seriousness. We were on a mission to catch Jack the Ripper.
After about five minutes of looking around and gathering clues, one of my friends triggered an object and (spoiler alert) a fireplace in the room slid open quickly and loudly, revealing a second room full of clues.
A letter told us that we had to pinpoint five different locations where the Ripper had been spotted - we got to work.
We escaped the room with just two minutes to spare. It's quite an achievement when you remember that the Obama family broke out of a 'Breakout Waikiki' room in Hawaii with just 12 seconds left on the clock.
Escape rooms aren't for the faint-hearted - definitely prepare for jump-scares.
I reckon we screamed around four or five times. Knocks on the door made the atmosphere extra eerie.
The fear element is all fabricated through lighting and sound, but it's all part of the experience.
Like watching a horror movie, the fear factor makes it all the more entertaining.