Are you up to the Défi-Évasion challenge?

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Karine Beauregard and Ruby Pratka try to decipher the enigma in the three photographs. These were some of clues and objects left in the James' Escape challenge.

Readers interested in cracking enigmas and decrypting codes will enjoy participating in Défi-Évasion, a new and intriguing escape and race-against-the-clock activity in Quebec City. 

The QCT's Ruby Pratka and Cassandra Kerwin recently dared to test their puzzle-solving skills. Joined by Marie Blanchet, and Karine, Annie and Johanne Beauregard, the group of six thought themselves up for the challenge.

 This confident team was locked inside "James' room," from which the fictional 15-year-old James supposedly escaped after 12 years of captivity using objects and codes he found in his room. Unlike James, the team of six had three clues and only 60 minutes to escape before their "captors" returned. 

 After the game, the team reviewed their unsuccessful performance. "It's very stimulating," said Karine. Annie said, "It's something different and fun to do as a group." Their mother Johanne completed the family review; "I appreciated the experience. It tested our curiosity." But Blanchet would have appreciated more time; "Extending the time to 75 or 90 minutes would raise the success rate. I completely loved it and I want to come back." She added, "We needed to use all the clues, and even then, we did not escape." 

 Dave Welsh and Véronique Girard founded Défi-Évasion in Quebec City after enjoying a similar activity in Nashville, Tennessee. "It is growing in popularity. There are five such venues in Montreal," said Welsh. "We opened our doors to the public on April 1. We are both surprised and fortunate to have had so many groups book their captivity, and even more pleased with their reactions." 

 There are two scenarios currently in place. Participants looking for an intermediate challenge can book "James' Escape," which has a 40% success rate. Players looking for a tougher game can book "The Volt," with a 15% success rate. "The Volt" entices participants to make their escape with $10 million in (mock) jewellery, where diamond thieves failed. "Curiosity and puzzle-solving skills are necessary," said Welsh. Girard suggested, "There should not be any pre-set expectations because an open mind and curiosity are key to escaping."

 Welsh and Girard welcome groups of up to six per scenario. "Seven or more tend to tread on each other, and not only physically," said Welsh. Défi-Évasion, located on Rue Jean-Perrin near Galeries de la Capitale, is open Wednesday to Sunday. The cost is $25 per person. People can reserve via the website, "When possible," said Welsh, "we offer people the option to join others in the same scenario. This adds a level of intrigue to the puzzle."  

 Are you ready to test yourself and your friends?