Science, Magic & Mystery: 5 Inspirational Stories

Escape Rooms are well known for their intriguing plots and immersive gameplay. Anyone who has gone up against the clock will know that the best games around are the ones that balance the familiar with the unfamiliar – often inspired by stories of science, magic and mystery. 

With origins in Japan through to Europe and the USA, some of the most extraordinary Escape Rooms of all time have based their plots on fictional heroes such as Sherlock Holmes all the way through to the unknown underbelly of Area 51

Here we’ve rounded up some of our favourite stories and characters that have helped to inspire the best games around:

Sherlock Holmes: The mastermind detective

Created by Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 19th Century, the world was first introduced to the beloved mastermind detective in A Study in Scarlet. Sherlock Holmes quickly became the relatable hero, who solved seemingly impossible cases through pure wit and cunning alone. 

It is thought that Holmes was inspired by Conan Doyle’s medical school professor, Dr Joseph Bell. Like Holmes, Bell possessed sharp observation, logic and deduction skills. Partnered with the affable John Watson, Holmes’ popularity began to soar and soon appeared in Conan Doyle’s second novel, The Sign of Four. 

Now one of the most well-known admired and celebrated fictional characters of all time, Holmes’ character has continued to appear in multiple television and film productions worldwide. Most notably, the Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law led Hollywood series and the BBC production featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. 

Thomas Edison: The world-renowned inventor 

Darkened corners and hidden rooms are common features of Escape Rooms. A single desk lamp might light areas, or you might even need to think outside the box and find a black light to reveal hidden messages on the walls. 

Thomas Edison is perhaps the most famous inventor ever. He invented the incandescent lightbulb, developed the modern motion picture camera and improved the telephone and the telegraph. Life as we know it wouldn’t be the same without Edison’s triumphs in the late 19th Century. 

But what stands out the most about Edison is that he came from humble origins. Raised by parents who fought in the American Revolution, Edison didn’t take his school career very seriously as a child. To the point, his mother removed him from the US education system and taught him at home. In his own words, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

Edison’s keen interest in mechanics and chemical experiments were prominent in his life early on – at 12 years old, he set up his own laboratory. From Ohio to Boston and later to New York, Edison quickly made a name for himself with his uncanny discoveries and life-changing inventions. 

Fun fact: Edison nicknamed his children “Dot” and “Dash.”

The Mary Celeste: The unsolved mystery of the Ghost Ship

Picture the scene: It’s December 4, 1872. The Mary Celeste (a British-American ship) is found empty and adrift in the middle of the Atlantic. Despite no crew, the vessel was found to be completely seaworthy, with its cargo intact, minus one lifeboat – which appeared to have been boarded in an orderly fashion. 

No one listed on the ship’s log was ever seen or heard from again. 

A month before, the Mary Celeste left New York on route to Genoa, Italy. Onboard, she held her Captain, Benjamin Briggs, seven crew members, including Brigg’s wife and their 2-year old daughter. 

What’s more peculiar is that the Mary Celeste had ample luxury supplies for six months, including an upright piano and a sewing machine.

The final entry in the ship’s daily log raised no alarm. Everything appeared to be in order, and nothing was out of the ordinary. So what happened aboard the Mary Celeste? Something sinister, perhaps? Or simply the need to flee? 

Theories have come and gone over the years, but the ones that have stuck include mutiny, pirate attack and a catastrophic assault by a sea monster! The perfect backstory to mull over in 60 minutes, don’t you think? 

The inexplicable Voynich Manuscript

One of the most perplexing riddling texts to ever exist, the Voynich Manuscript has bamboozled researchers for years. The book itself contains 250 pages written in an entirely unknown writing system and language. 

Carbon dating suggests the book was created in the 1400s. But more oddly, the manuscript’s pages include illustrations of plants that don’t resemble any currently known species. 

Throughout the centuries, the Voynich Manuscript has passed through many hands. The first known owner was Georg Baresch (1585-1662), an alchemist from Prague, whose investigations led nowhere after he discovered the text “taking up space uselessly in his library.” 

When Polish book dealer, Voynich (for whom the manuscript is now named after) purchased it back in 1912, he posited that it was authored by the alchemist Albertus Magnus and scientist Roger Bacon. But others have since decided that Voynich fabricated the manuscript, as well as its purported history. 

However, even if Voynich was involved in a hoax or conspiracy, then how do you explain the carbon dating evidence derived from the ink and paper? 

Scottish legend: Am Fear Liath Mòr (The Big Grey Man)

This tale is shrouded in myth, magic and mystery. Am Feat Liath Mòr or the Big Grey Man is an inhuman creature that rivals the Yeti and the Sasquatch (Big Foot). It is said that he haunts the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the second highest peak in Scotland. 

Over the years, eyewitnesses have described Am Feat Liath Mòr as a giant-like human with short hair, broad shoulders and long hulking arms. As he walks through the pass, gravel can be heard crunching beneath his feet – adding to the horrific scene. 

Scientists and psychologists have tried to explain the phenomenon, proposing that those that have spotted and heard the enigma have been in “a state of physical and mental anguish brought on by exhaustion or isolation” alike. 

With no incriminating evidence to entirely put this urban legend to bed, Am Feat Liath Mòr continues to cast fear and intrigue into the hearts and minds who stumble across his land. 

We all love the thrill and mystery of stories. They transport you to another era and place you in the midst of the unknown and curious. Not unlike our Escape Rooms!