BY VICTORIA TANNER
Growing up, all I ever wanted to do was go on an adventure like Indiana Jones. Find a hidden tomb. Run across a room with the ceiling falling down. Find the treasure and make my escape.
Now I have my chance. The stakes aren’t as high and my life isn’t in any danger. But, the adventure is real.
5 Wits, a new indoor adventure in the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, New York has brought three childhood dreams to life.
The three adventures aren’t simulations. There are no goggles or screens. The adventure truly comes from the staging, props, lighting and sound effects inside of it.
Each adventure including the three in West Nyack, Tomb, Drago’s Castle and Deep Space, have their own story. Players are presented with a short video clip featuring an antagonist. This sets up a basic storyline for players to really become characters in the adventure world.
“We try to pick classic adventures,” Matthew DuPlessie, founder of 5 Wits, said. “From there we look at every movie, television show, video game and book about that type of adventure and gather the best elements.”
DuPlessie explained that Tomb was the first adventure he created.
“Of course I want a rope swinging over a pit of snakes, but we have to be realistic,” he said.
One of these realistic obstacles in Tomb occurs when the ceiling starts to lower as adventurers are solving one of Pharaoh’s puzzles.
In Tomb, participants are faced against the Pharaoh, Drago’s Castle requires them to get the dragon back into the storybook and Deep Space challenges them against the computer.
As participants move onto the next room, the game allows another group to start. To prevent groups from catching up to each other, the antagonist in each adventure makes the puzzles harder. The computer system running the adventure uses sensors to see how quickly groups are moving through it.
The scenery and props built for the adventures throw participants into another world. It’s real – not virtual. They go from physically being in the mall to feeling like they are inside a lost Egyptian tomb, medieval castle or spaceship.
“Our extensive scenery and creation of stories is what really separates us from Escape the Room type simulations,” DuPlessie said.
DuPlessie believes the adventures are for everyone, but recommends it for ages seven and up because of the intense lighting and sound affects. Depending on the time of day, the crowd at 5 Wits varies. On weekends you’ll find families and kid birthday parties and during the evening it is full of teenagers and college students.
There are other locations in the northeast including Syracuse, New York and Foxboro, Massachusetts. There is also a 5 Wits spy adventure at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.
Each one of the West Nyack adventures takes approximately 30 minutes and there is a marked exit in each room if someone wants to leave before beating the puzzles.
The players are given a score based on their performance and people return again and again to try and beat it. The plots are the same for players who repeat the adventures but the puzzles might be harder and players should switch up their roles for a new experience.
In a growing digital world, 5 Wits enables people to physically enter a world and go on adventure without being a movie star. The name 5 Wits comes from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and relates back to the five senses as DuPlessie has created a fully immersive experience that requires participants to really use all of their senses to solve the puzzles.
“You have to use your own body,” DuPlessie said. “Your own skills and senses. It becomes real.