BIDDEFORD — One of southern Maine’s few escape rooms is ready for anyone who wants to give live puzzle-solving a try.

Ingenious Escape Games offers a new interactive challenge for the mind, owner Javi Kalback said.

Kalback has owned Portsmouth Escape Games since 2016 and said that she was approached by Heart of Biddeford to bring an escape room to the area.

Ingenious Escape Games in Biddeford offers players a chance to participate in live puzzle solving with “The Secret Laboratory of Dr. Prometheus.” Photo Courtesy of Javi Kalback

Moving to New England from Chile about 10 years ago, Kalback said that she’s always loved interactive and puzzle-solving computer games and, before learning about escape rooms, wished there was a way to bring those to life.

“I thought there should be a live version of this kind of thing,” she said. “My friend told me about escape rooms, and I was like, ‘What? This is crazy!’ When I looked into it, I saw there weren’t any in Maine or New Hampshire, but by the time I opened in Portsmouth, one opened in Portland.”

“I always thought it was a pretty cool thing to do. I love making things and I’m a computer engineer, so I build all the electronics in the room. I designed the games and everything.”


While escape games have been getting popular among a younger crowd, Kalback said most of the rooms are for all ages.

“I think it’s really for everyone,” she said. “Many people think it’s for little kids, but we get a lot of people in between 25 and 30. We’ll also get families and older people. It’s not, like, a physical activity. If you can read and think and exercise your brain, you can do it. We have 5-year-olds who are good at it and 80-year-olds who are great at it.”

Right now, there is one game – “The Secret Laboratory of Dr. Prometheus” – that is available at the Biddeford location at 145 Main St. on weekends, but Kalback said she will be adding more soon.

“It’s a steampunk-inspired game,” she said. “You’re the assistant to the radical scientist Dr. Prometheus. He’s gone missing and there’s a mission in going down to the lab to figure out his latest experiment and bringing it to life. The game lasts one hour.”

At no time, however, are the players trapped inside of the room, she said. There are emergency exits and always an open door. The illusion of being locked in is more for the fun of the puzzle.

“Yeah, you’re not actually locked in the room,” she said. “That’s actually not OK from a fire or safety perspective. You have one door that’s always open and another one that you escape the room from.”


Kalback said the opening weekend was fully booked by escape room veterans eager to play and beat the challenge.

“Our opening weekend we had almost everyone solve it, but they were, like, hardcore escape game fans,” she said. “The usual rate is 50 percent completion.”

For anyone who’s interested, Kalback suggests booking ahead to make sure there is space available.

“You can go directly online and select what times are available,” she said. “You could just walk in, but if we’re booked, then you won’t be able to play. We highly recommend people book in advance.”

Kalback said that these kinds of challenges are a good way to gauge a group’s compatibility.

“It can be a date night or just a group of friends, family who want to do something together,” she said. “We get a lot of groups who are in town for someone’s birthday. It’s a popular team-building activity for sports groups and church groups. It’s a good way to figure out how people think and how they work together – that type of thing.”


Kalback said she loves designing the puzzles, and seeing people’s “ah-ha!” moments when they get close to finishing.

“Personally, I like designing them, building them,” she said. “From a building perspective, it’s fun watching people figure out the puzzle and their excitement when they’ve almost figured it out. People will say, ‘Oh, my God! This is so much fun.’”

Kalback expects to have six to eight employees and hopes to hire one more person to assist when all the games are set.

“We normally have two employees per game,” she said. “The game master is responsible for greeting the group, going over the context of the story, making sure the group knows what to do, keeping the group safe, watching what people are doing from the control room. We provide hints and make sure that people get relevant hints on what they’re doing. We don’t want to give it away, so we just give a little nudge. Then we take a group picture when they finish.”

Catherine Bart — 207-780-9029

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