You find yourself in a shapeless void.
A dimension without shape or form.
Haze in all directions.
No indication as to where you are.
Are you trapped here forever?
There is a crash of thunder and a flash of lightning.
A shipping crate appears as if out of thin air.
It is covered with strange and inexplicable symbols.
Maybe it holds the secret of where you are and how to escape!
Unfortunately, it is locked.
Of course it is!
“I was lucky enough to play a prototype of The Void, and enjoyed it very much! Not only do the puzzles have a really nice tactile quality, but they offer some clever challenges as well. Roy has put a lot of thought into this experience, and it definitely shows.”
— Brent Holman, escape room designer and co-founder of Shinteki and ClueKeeper
“What could be more irresistible than a box full of secrets? Three generations of my family solved The Void together, and we spent a few hours alternating between being pleasantly baffled and bafflingly pleased, unable to rest until every last puzzle was complete.”
— Ken Jennings, writer and Jeopardy! champion
“With physical pieces that are a pleasure to handle this is a fully tactile puzzle experience the whole family can enjoy – I found some of the puzzles to have an almost magical and unexpected resolution!”
— Richard Garfield, inventor of Magic: The Gathering and Keyforge
“Chock-full of physical components that are super satisfying to handle and manipulate, The Void is a delightful experience for new and seasoned puzzlers alike.”
— Summer Herrick, owner of Locurio and co-creator of The Vanishing Act and The Storykeeper
“When puzzles are designed as elegantly as these are, it’s easy to miss their brilliance. Each puzzle in The Void solves smoothly and concludes definitively. It’s a magic that’s easily taken for granted.”
See also: Delivery FAQ Detailed FAQ Safety FAQ Covid FAQ
Q. What is this?
It’s an escape experience.
Q. Where is this?
You’re in a shapeless void.
Q. No, really. Where is this?
It’s in your home, wherever you like to solve puzzles. This escape experience, unlike an escape room, comes to you.
Q. What’s it like?
An escape experience feels somewhat like an escape room. You’re dropped into an unfamiliar environment, presented with a whole bunch of puzzling things, and expected to figure out what’s what, solve the puzzles, and “escape”. We love escape rooms and wanted to bring a similar, exciting experience to people in a different way. We recommend playing in a group of 2-5 people, while following appropriate pandemic safety protocols.
Q. Why is it an “Escape” Experience if we’re not actually escaping from anywhere?
We’re using a different sense of the word “escape” — a form of temporary distraction from reality or routine. We aim to provide that for you.
Q. How does it work?
You reserve a date and we’ll drop off the crate for you, then pick it up the next day.
Q. How much does it cost?
Our introductory price is $125 per group, with delivery included to the cities of Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Other cities in the Seattle area are available with a delivery surcharge.
Q. What are you actually delivering?
The Void escape experience is delivered in a shipping crate which weighs about 25 pounds (yes, that’s 25 pounds of puzzling). You’ll need to be able to lift and carry that much. Please don’t drop it. Everything you need is inside the crate. When you’re finished, you’ll have to put everything back inside.
Q. Do you also deliver the shapeless void?
You’ll have to provide your own.
Q. What’s the exact delivery area?
For simplicity, we treat all of the cities of Redmond (where we are located), Bellevue, and Kirkland as our normal delivery area. If you are outside those cities, we’ve calculated a delivery surcharge based on time, distance, and bridge tolls. You can see these fees in the Reservation page before checking out. Pickups in Redmond, which will not incur a surcharge, can sometimes be arranged. Please contact us for more information before making your reservation.
Q. How do I get it?
We usually drop off and pick up mid-day and you get to keep until the next day. The day you reserve is the day we will drop it off. We strongly prefer if you’re there to receive it (social distanced), but we can also put it in a dry, secure spot. You can find details on our sanitization plan in the Covid FAQ.
Q. What’s in the crate?
The crate is locked. You’ll have to unlock it first. Once you’ve done that, you’ll find a bunch of assorted pieces that make up a number of puzzles. Each puzzle will take you one step closer to escaping.
Q. What do we need to set up?
You need a place to play. A large, sturdy table is ideal to spread out the puzzles. Everything you need is inside the crate, though you might find it handy to have some paper to take notes on. You won’t need to (and must not!) write or mark on any of the materials. More information on what you need to play is below.
The crate has rubber feet so you can set it on your table while solving. The top hasp is also rubberized, but you might want to fold it back onto the top as you open the crate to keep it off your table.
Q. What is your refund policy?
We have a no refund policy. If you cancel more than 1 day before your scheduled drop-off (e.g., Thursday midnight for a Saturday drop-off), we will give you a full credit towards a future reservation. We will also give you a full credit if we are able to replace your reservation, even if you cancel later than 1 day before.
Q. Do you have a wait list?
We have an informal wait list to help when people need to reschedule. If you really want a specific date that isn’t available, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll let you know if we end up with an opening.
Q. How do we pack up?
Basically, you put everything back in the crate. We break the “fourth wall” in a couple of places: hints and the inclusion of a reset guide. The instructions on how to pack up should be pretty clear, if you find them confusing, it’s most important to put everything neatly back into the crate and let us know that it might not be reset properly. If you have any question as to whether you’re doing it correctly, please don’t lock any of the locks.
Q. Can my company do this as a team building activity?
Maybe. The pandemic imposes some limitations. While we’re not allowing traditional corporate rentals at this time, rentals may be possible for small companies that are already physically working together with appropriate safety protocols. We’ll revisit this post-pandemic. In the meantime, we do have other activities that you can do right now for team building, with puzzles that are online or on paper, as well as physical items that you can mail out to your team members in advance of a virtual event. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Q. Are we really locked in?
You tell us! It’s your home. Seriously, we completely understand this question for escape rooms, especially for new players. We’re going for a pretty different aesthetic here, with less immersion and more serious puzzles.
Q. How long will it take to solve all the puzzles?
There is no ticking clock, no one-hour time limit, but you are welcome to create your own time limit if you’d like. We recommend one hour for most groups and 90 minutes to 2 hours for solo and pair solvers. You can reduce these limits for a greater challenge if you are expert solvers. How long it takes you will depend on how big your group is, how experienced you are, and what type of experience you want to have. If you want to savor everything as a group, you can solve the puzzles one at a time. If you want to go for the mythical world record time, you can split up the puzzles and solve them in parallel. We have seen solving times vary from 30 minutes for a speed solving group to several hours for a solo solver or small group taking it at a leisurely pace. If you’re bringing in additional solvers over video conferencing, expect it to take longer.
Q. What are the puzzles like?
All puzzles are original, physical puzzles. We’ve taken the lack of a room as an opportunity to do something a bit different. Our puzzles are very engaging and have a great balance between being fun and challenging because they rely a lot less on theming to make them interesting. Some of our escape experiences mix in some of the elements of puzzlehunts as well.
Our experiences vary in how strongly themed they are; The Void is lightly themed but very cohesive. Your own experience can be as immersive as your imagination: if you want to feel more like you’re actually in The Void, you can turn off the lights and use flashlights, or just talk in deep, spooky voices.
The puzzles themselves are fun, challenging, and captivating manipulative puzzles which do not require electronics or complex mechanisms to work. You do not need to force, break, dismantle, or destroy anything to solve any puzzle — if you have any doubt whether you are supposed to do something which feels like it might be one of those things, you should not be doing it. Like most puzzles in escape rooms, there are no instructions, but, when you’ve solved a puzzle, you’ll know it and you’ll know what information it gives you.
Q. Is this just the puzzles from an escape room repackaged for home solving?
Our escape experiences are designed from scratch for the portable solving experience you will get.
Q. Where do the puzzles come from?
All puzzles are created in house by the Almanaq team, which mostly means that the puzzles were created by Roy Leban, a well-known, world-class puzzle designer and creator of thousands of puzzles and dozens of puzzle books. Roy’s books include our own The Librarian’s Almanaq and The Conjurer’s Almanaq. All puzzles are tested both on their own and as part of the escape experience.
Q. What is the build quality like?
The puzzles all fit inside a small crate, so nothing is huge. They do take up a lot more space when you spread them out! The puzzles themselves are solid and very well made. Most are made out of solid hardwood, acrylic, and similar materials. Some puzzles may use commercially available components (obvious example: locks).
Q. How do we escape?
You get out of the shapeless void, of course! The rest will become clear when the crate appears.
Q. Who is this for?
It’s for people who like escape rooms and physical puzzles. It is also a bit more kid-friendly than most escape rooms. Kids age six and up who can treat the puzzles gently can contribute with supervision and enjoy themselves. You can solve solo or in a group of 2-5 people.
You need to come ready to think and play with the puzzles. Everything else will be provided. While solving puzzles, you won’t need to know anything that would be considered “outside knowledge” unless it’s something everybody would know. For example, you’d be expected to know the alphabet, the colors of the rainbow, that Detroit is in Michigan, and that oxygen is an element. You won’t be expected to know Morse code, the wavelength of pure green light, the capital of Madagascar, or all the elements of the periodic table. If you need it, you might be provided with a Morse code table, a spectral chart, a world map, or (you guessed it) a periodic table. You’re welcome to use solving aids like Google, and this might be useful at limited times. (By the way, pure green light is 530 nanometers and the capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo.)
Q. What about tools?
You are not allowed to use any physical tools which are not provided to you in the crate. You are allowed to use non-tool items that you might normally have at your disposal, such as your cell phone, a flashlight, a magnifying glass, or a ruler. If you’re not sure whether you can use something, you probably shouldn’t use it. Do not attempt to take apart or disassemble anything!
Q. Can we do an escape experience more than once?
No. Just like escape rooms, you’ll know how everything works. We find that groups that split up the puzzles like to revisit everything after they’re done so that everybody can see all the puzzles. The lack of a hard time limit helps enable this. If you have a large family, you can split up into groups and each solve it. We can provide a reset kit with instructions for this. There is no charge for the reset kit within a family.
Q. Are hints available if we need them?
Yes. Nobody is watching through a hidden camera, but hints are available should you want them. They are provided in a way that a single person can view a hint without everybody seeing it. Our experience is that very few people use any hints. Without a timer running out, there isn’t the same pressure to take a hint. But, if you’re not having fun with part of the experience, or feeling stuck, that’s what the hints are there for.
Q. Any other rules?
We have a fairly standard list of rules which has a few extra items because you’re in your own home.
We encourage you to post about your experience on social media (publicity helps our business), but please avoid spoilers which will ruin the experience for others. Just like with escape rooms, please don’t share photographs or videos of any puzzles and especially the solutions!
Q. Can I use The Void for a special occasion like a surprise birthday party or a proposal?
Yes. It is possible for us to slightly customize the opening or the ending. We can do this in a way that doesn’t spoil anything else for you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before making your reservation.
Q. Can you make something for me/my escape room/my company?
Absolutely! We create custom paper puzzles, physical puzzles, and unique puzzle events for both companies and individuals. We create events for both in-person and virtual solving, though the pandemic does give us some limitations on in-person events right now. We’ve created puzzles for kids of all ages (5 to 98). Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Q. Are there any options if I’m not in your delivery area?
We are not currently delivering The Void outside the Seattle area. But we do have some excellent options for you.
Both of our puzzle books are excellent for solving in small groups and can be solved over a period of days or weeks: The Librarian’s Almanaq is more traditional puzzles which are laid out pretty clearly for you, while The Conjurer’s Almanaq is an escape room in book form (you’re trapped in the book by an evil conjurer!) where you don’t even know what’s a puzzle and what’s part of the ultimate guide to conjuring. You can solve both books with remote friends by getting a book for each location.
If you want something more like an actual escape room, we can recommend some excellent remote escape rooms created by people we know:
I did the in-person version of Locurio’s The Vanishing Act pre-pandemic, and it is one of the best escape rooms I’ve done anywhere — a fantastic experience with great puzzles. I’ve heard raves about The Vanishing Act Remote, which combines most of the live room with some elements rethought specifically for solving from the comfort of your home, all led by a live avatar that you can direct. (Ideal for 4 players, 90-120 minutes.)
Next up, the designers for Palace Games in San Francisco have created some immersive multiplayer virtual escape games. (The Ruby Palace is live; more are coming soon. The experience is specifically designed to be virtual with many elements that are similar to escape rooms, using your browser and video chat. Teamwork is pretty essential to escape. Because their games are completely automated, you can play anytime 24/7. If you’re interested, we can give you a discount code if you contact us before making your reservation. (Teams of 3-4 groups are recommended; larger groups can split up into multiple teams and play head-to-head.)
Last but not least, Scott Weiss has a number of excellent virtual escape rooms. He’ll walk you through the room much like a D&D game without dice. Most of the interaction is audio, but he’ll also show you some things as you’re going. His rooms are imaginative, interesting, and enjoyable. One is about a purple unicorn! They’re suitable for all ages. (Rooms are for 2-4 or 4-6 players, 60-90 minutes average.)
Q. Is it safe? Do we have to sign a waiver?
Because you are solving in your own home, you are in greater control of your safety than in an escape room. We do have a waiver, which is a bit simpler than most escape room waivers. You should also review the rules.
As long as you don’t attack each other with anything you find in the crate, you’ll be safe. Puzzles and parts of puzzles are as safe as items normally found in your home. We expect you to use common sense and exercise the same precautions you would with any such items. For example, don’t drop a heavy item on your foot. Similarly, if we provide you with a pair of scissors, we expect you to use them in a safe manner, as you would any pair of scissors.
We need you to promise to take reasonable precautions and not to break anything or a replacement fee will be charged (nothing is fragile, but items can be damaged or broken). If something does get broken, exercise the caution you would take with any broken item in your home. We appreciate you taking care of the materials (and putting them away carefully). This will help us stick to our schedule and ensure that others can enjoy The Void too.
Q. Can we eat while we solve?
No! Please keep all food and drink away from the puzzles. In addition to minimizing the risk of something getting damaged, it’s important because the next solver might be allergic to something you’ve been eating. Please wash your hands if you take a break to eat while solving.
Q. What about children?
Our experiences are not appropriate or designed for children under age six, and contain small parts that are not safe for children under age three. You are responsible for ensuring that any such children in your home do not interact with any part of our escape experiences, and to take appropriate cautions if you have young children in your home. Older children may enjoy helping solve puzzles, but most children under age twelve will not be able to solve puzzles on their own. You are responsible for supervising any and all children appropriately so that nothing is broken or damaged.
Q. What about pets?
Please keep all pets away from the crate to avoid any contamination from allergens that might be a problem for future solvers, even if you believe that your pet is hypoallergenic.
Q. What about Covid-19?
Our portable escape experiences avoid many of the current safety concerns of escape rooms. You solve in your own home and you control who is there. You can also invite remote friends to join you via video chat if you want (we recommend at least two people at the location with the crate so that one person can hold the webcam while others manipulate the puzzle pieces).
We’re learning more about Covid-19 all the time, but epidemiologists and researchers believe that the risk of getting the virus from infected surfaces is much lower than airborne transmission. Everything in the crate is made out of plastic, wood, or metal, along with a small amount of paper. There is very little room for air inside the crate.
We request that you wash your hands before solving, and that you do what you would do with any foreign objects — don’t touch any food while solving, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands afterwards.
Our drop-offs and pickups are social distanced. We’ll wear a mask during drop-offs and pickups, and we request that you do the same, no matter how much distance we keep from each other. We’re all in this together!
Q. What is the sanitization plan?
We’re doing everything we can to minimize risk. When we pick up the crate, we will sanitize our hands, inspect the contents, then close it back up so it’s ready for the next delivery. We won’t touch anything inside the crate between then and the time we drop it off for you. To help you plan better, we’ll let you know when the crate was closed up. Initially, we are scheduling reservations with one day in between, which limits us to three reservations a week and about a day at each location.
Q. Do we have to wear masks while solving?
No. However, if you have Covid-19, been exposed to someone who has it recently, or suspect that you have it, we ask that you defer your experience until after you recover.
Q. What if a strict lockdown prevents a delivery?
Obviously, we hope that doesn’t happen, We believe that our social distanced delivery puts us in the same service category as food delivery services. If we are prevented from delivering, we will reschedule as necessary.