A handful of companies around New York City operate dozens of rooms, which as recently as 2014 were only the exotic provenance of Eastern Europe. They may strike you as a bit faddish, but the mousetrap setup will resonate with anyone who grew up playing narrative puzzle adventure computer games (LucasArts’ “Day of the Tentacle” and “Sam & Max Hit the Road” were exemplars). You’ll need a team, so choose wisely: Most games are designed for up to 10 players, but the most satisfying adventures are had with groups of a half-dozen (you might have to shell out for a private room if you’d rather not be paired with strangers). A diverse team (look for the analyst, the quick-witted, the logician, the watchful, the playful) will fare better than eight like-minded accountants.
Spend some time pre-gaming, literally. Get to know your teammates and make sure you can communicate under pressure. Dress comfortably -- some rooms require you to crawl, climb, and run. Pep up with caffeine, but go easy on booze until after your victory (or defeat). Arrive early to get oriented (common escape room rules will bid you not to destroy the sets or climb on furniture) and leave time for debriefing after: What puzzle almost cost your victory? How many other teams escaped? And of course, no escape room is complete without a post-game photoshoot, replete with signs and giant keys for props. There are myriad escape rooms to dive into in NYC: These are some of the best.