The latest addition to our thriving Northern Quarter is Parapark, a new escape game that goes back a long time…
Founded in 2011, Parapark was one of the first ever escape games. It was created by Attila Gyurkovics, a personality trainer who saw an opportunity to turn his work into a puzzle that would entertain the masses. It proved to be incredibly popular, and they now have games in 20 locations, from Hungary to Australia. But you won’t have to go that far to check it out, because Parapark has arrived in Leeds, courtesy of a franchise by Sebastian Ardron and Sandor Godo.
“My business partner Sandor is from Szeged in Hungary, where room-escape games like these are all over the place,” Ardron told us. “Having visited Parapark himself in both Szeged and Budapest he was excited to bring this experience to the new home he had made in Leeds, so I flew with him to Budapest to meet the creator of the entire room-escape craze, Attila Gyurkovics, and play the game for myself. I was instantly hooked! We’re proud to have recreated the same experience here in Leeds, and to show the other much younger escape games in the UK how it’s done!”
If you’ve ever played an escape game before, you’ll know how it works. After a safety briefing, you’ll be ushered into a themed room with your mates. Once inside, the door will be locked behind you – from that moment, you have 60 minutes to make your escape, and the only way to do it is to solve a series of puzzles, clues and mysteries.
So what makes Parapark different from the others? Well, according to Ardron, it’s not just the brand’s history, it’s the way they put their puzzles together. “Having played a couple of the other games in town before trying out ParaPark for myself in Budapest, I was amazed by the variety and uniqueness of the puzzles. There’s a fresh twist behind every code and clue, with more than a couple of jaw-dropping reveals,” he explained. “It’s much more satisfying when one puzzle leads to the next organically, in such a way that you can work backwards from an obstacle and think to yourself ‘to open that I clearly need something from this over here, and to get into this I must need to do something there!’ rather than just finding a set of numbers and trying them on everything in the room.”
Parapark Leeds has launched with just one game, and it’s got a creepy back story… something happened here, decades ago and now the place is cursed. Evil seeps from the very walls and all who enter disappear. Surrounded by extra-dimensional whispers and filled with that nagging feeling that you’re being watched, you must fight against time to get through the gateway before it closes forever.
The room, which is called 9th Gateway, is ranked 4 out of 5 on their Houdini scale. It’s designed to tell you just how difficult the game is, and this one is a tricky customer indeed. Soon, however, you’ll have another game to try, because they’re hard at work on their second and expect to launch it within a few short weeks.
Parapark was originally expected to open on Great George Street, but after the deal fell through they found somewhere even better – they’ve taken a unit on Vicar Lane, just next door to Pizza Fella, and the new venue couldn’t be better placed, as Ardron himself agreed, “We were excited to find a location right off of Merrion Street, home of so many new and trendy bars. We feel the room-escape game is a great way to kick-off a night out on the town with something really memorable so we’re very pleased to be so close to the action.”
Parapark is an exciting new addition to the city, and one that offers something a little bit different. So if you fancy trying an alternative night out – less booze, more mind-boggling mysteries, this could be just the thing. Check it out and let us know what you make of it in the comments.
Parapark, 110 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.