Escape Room opens its doors in Hartsville

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

If you’ve ever dreamed of using your mind to solve a mystery, find a priceless treasure, or crack a code to save a starship in peril, those dreams can become a reality – kind of – thanks to Project EXcape, a new escape room attraction in Hartsville.

Gamemaster Caleb Shuler says his family (which co-owns the business with their friends, the Robinette family) got the idea during family outings where the Shulers and Robinettes checked out escape rooms in Columbia and Myrtle Beach.

They had such a blast, Caleb says, that they decided to bring that little jolt of adventure back to their hometown.
For those who are unfamiliar, the escape room experience is basically this: you and a group of teammates (be they co-workers, family, friends, or even strangers) enter a specially designed room decorated to resemble some exotic setting, like the bridge of a space ship, or the tent of an intrepid treasure hunter. The room is packed with clues and puzzles that can help you solve the game’s central mystery – provided your group can work together, pooling your knowledge and skills in pursuit of a common goal.

“But even if you’re not a puzzle guy or gal, there is still appeal because you get to go into these rooms and work together to solve the clues and escape within sixty minutes,” says Caleb. “If you don’t work together, you may still make it out in time, but it’s much more challenging.”

Even though you step into the escape room without a plan or any idea where to start, that doesn’t mean you’re without help. Each group has a dedicated Gamemaster who can provide clues to help get your quest on the right track.

Players can book one of two engaging theme rooms: In “Cypherspace,” you play as an elite team of NASA astronauts charged with retrieving a probe filled with valuable data before your ship – positioned near a wormhole – is destroyed by radioactivity. In “The Lost Jewel of Zanzibar,” your team of 1930s era adventurers must piece together clues and find the missing gem before a dangerous warlord’s army closes in and steals your prize.

Shuler notes that although these puzzles and brainteasers will give your little grey cells quite the workout, the Project EXcape rooms are not physically demanding. Players are not required to crawl or climb or exert themselves. Also, the facility is completely accessible for those with physical disabilities.

The escape rooms are not locked at any time, so you can leave whenever you like. The adventures are appropriate for younger players, too, and Project EXcape does host children’s parties for kids aged 11 and older, provided they are accompanied by an adult chaperone.

Groups as small as two people can play the escape rooms, but there is a room minimum charge, and Shuler warns the game can be pretty tough to complete with only two teammates. If you’d like to play the escape room with a group of strangers, Project EXcape can find and assemble a team through their Facebook page. Discounts are available for students and the military, and for groups of 10 or more. The regular cost to play is $25 per person.

Project EXcape is open Monday through Wednesday by appointment, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and closed on Sunday. They are located at 120 E Carolina Avenue in Hartsville. To book your escape room adventure, call 843-606-0597, visit them online at, or email

Author: mrollins

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