What’s On has video and pictures of Challenge Chambers’ real-life escape game experience. Crack codes and solve mysteries. One of the new Dubai indoor activities to try.

Skateparks in Dubai
Indoor skydiving
Airbus A380 simulator

Deep in the maze of Sunset Mall, Jumeirah’s hauntingly quiet glass-walled shopping centre, we found Challenge Chambers. The decor from the outside barely gives much away – in fact it looks more like a disorganised graphic designers office. Who would have known it actually housed Dubai’s answer to The Crystal Maze and CSI all rolled into one?

So what exactly happens at Challenge Chambers? For lack of a better term, let’s call it a puzzle house. It works like this: You and a group of friends are locked in a room together – no mobile phones, no cameras and no access to Google – and your task is to get out. How? That’s for you to figure out.

“I think someone has died in here…”
Look, someone's died

Clues are strewn about the place. They can come in the form of playing cards, crosswords, picture frames, or cryptic graffiti on the wall. The challenge master offers a brief explanation to give you context but other than that you’re on your own. You have to use your powers of observation, pattern recognition and logic to find connections and correlations and escape within one hour.

“Maybe the answers lie in this empty laptop bag…”
Meticulous search for clues

Do everything right and the answers are revealed to you piecemeal until you eventually find the key to unlock the door to freedom. At the risk of dating myself, it’s a lot like Knightmare, that popular UK kids’ TV show from the mid 90s – except, of course, it’s all happening in real life.

There are three rooms to choose from, each one offering a different puzzle with its own unique theme. We tested our mental mettle on the Mystery Challenge. It’s a death-mystery-themed puzzle that incorporates an office setting with blood and codes. It also features a hugely frustrating giant timer that counts down towards your doom. As you progress through the puzzle you open various hatches to more puzzles. It’s difficult and at times you’ll feel stumped. But you get two lifelines, where you can signal to the challenge master for some help.

So who goes to Challenge Chambers? Management tells us that everyone and their neighbours are coming to crack the codes. Kids have fun, families love it, couples argue and friends high-five during it. It’s that kind of geek chic activity for those who have grown tired of sitting home during the summer watching box sets.

As you can well imagine, a lot of companies come here for team-building exercises too. It’s an ideal place for it.

There’s no doubt that the Mystery Challenge is hard and at times you’ll feel stumped, but you’ll get three lifelines, where you can signal an employee to help you out if you get stuck. Just be careful not to use them too soon.

“We made it!”
Nailed it

Should you go? Absolutely. There is without a doubt a serious cheese factor to all of it, but it’s hard not to have a lot of fun. Face it, you were probably going to numb your mind watching whodunit movies this summer anyway. Why not do something a little out of the ordinary, something that ultimately might even help to sharpen your intellect?

This place is wildly popular with the emirati’s and residents, so reservations are essential.

Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Sun to Wed 10.30am to 9pm,  Dhs2oo for two people, Thur to Sat 10.30am to 10.30pm, Dhs250 for two people. Tel: (050) 2560587. Taxi: Sunset Mall. challengechambers.com