By Mina Corpuz
AYER -- Inside Walter Miska's trailer lies an adventure.
Through the door, you find yourself in a dark Egyptian tomb. The voice of the pharaoh whose resting place you disturbed booms. Find the golden scarab beetle and reseal the crypt, he says, or else you will be trapped and unleash an ancient curse. All the clues you need are in the tomb and you have 45 minutes to escape.
Miska is the owner of The Escape Capsule, an Ayer-based game business that brings the thrills of an escape room directly to birthdays, corporate team building exercises, and other events.
"(Escape rooms) are are good at making it feel like you're somewhere else," he said.
The 28-foot trailer contains the scene for "The Curse of Amun-Ra." Up to eight people can play at one time.
Hieroglyphics cover the inside walls. The sarcophagus of the pharaoh is the center piece of the tomb. The image of jackal-headed Anubis, king of the dead, looms over the room.
A journal belonging to a missing explorer contains clues to find four keys to unlock the scarab.
Sometimes Miska will put on a vest and hat and come into the escape room to play the ghost of the explorer. In character, he can provide some help if the players need it.
The Escape Capsule made its debut at the end of March, Miska said. A group of teenagers and adults booked the mobile escape room for a birthday party.
Miska always has liked puzzles. He enjoyed playing board and video games, watching television game shows, and creating games using the computer.
That interest led him to the escape room business.
Miska built and owned Escape Room Westford. He sold company last year shortly after it opened, and took what he learned to start over with The Escape Capsule.
"It's not often that you get to learn about an industry by building and getting to start over on your own again," Miska said.
In Westford, he noticed that people wanted to bring in large groups, sometimes up to 30. It can be challenging to coordinate everyone's schedule to meet up at the escape room and for everyone a chance to play. Traditional escape rooms tend to be an hour-long experience, which would be an all-day event for a large group, Miska said.
The mobile escape room solves some of those problems by bringing the escape room to people and customizing how long the game lasts, he said. Groups can play "The Curse of Amun-Ra" in 30 or 45 minutes.
It took about half a year to customize the trailer, create the puzzles and design the tomb, Miska said.
When he considered themes, Miska thought of a submarine, prison transport, and an airplane -- situations that would take place in a long narrow space.
To help design the game, Miska listened to a multi-week lecture series on ancient Egyptian history. On a trip to London, he got ideas from Egyptian artifacts he saw on display at a museum.
Moving forward, Miska hopes to share the escape experience with more people.
He will see how well "The Curse of Amun-Ra" does may consider buying another trailer to design for another game.