Close to a decade ago, my friend Levi introduced me to Geocaching, a GPS based scavenger game where you search for a hidden object at specified coordinates. I liked the idea of finding something only a select few had found before. The key part of geocaching is stealth because you don't want prying eyes on you when you find a cache! With over a million caches worldwide, geocaching is an activity that stretches across cultures and appeals to all ages. My friend and I would sneak around towns and wooded areas looking for geocaches to write our names on. It was a great way to spend my summer weekends because I was outdoors, getting exercise, and spending time with a friend. When I moved to Missoula, I kept playing. I found new caches and kept the mystery of the hunt alive. If this sounds up your alley, check out the video below by REI which will give you everything you need to know to get out there and start geocaching!
I first learned about escape rooms around the same time I learned about geocaching. I played my first escape room here in Missoula at Big Sky Breakout. I took to the games immediately, as they appealed to me for the same reasons I love geocaching: searching for hidden objects and scavenging with my friends. The added bonus of an escape room is getting to use my brain to solve puzzles and riddles. Sign me up! The first game I played, Embassy Escape, put us into the role as secret agents which added to the stealth aspect I enjoy in a game.
Last Summer, Big Sky Breakout took their escape room games to the next level by incorporating puzzle hunts into their menu of gaming! Puzzle Hunts combine the idea of an escape room with the fun of scavenging outdoors. Big Sky Breakout designed and created their own puzzle hunt, Operation Checkmate. Operation Checkmate is a game that is part escape room, part geocaching, part scavenger hunt, with a little bit of augmented reality added in for fun. Your team gets a quick orientation about your spy mission and your host gives you an iPad that you use to track the secret agents in your classified files. You can also use this iPad to track your points and ask for clues along your route. After your orientation your host gives you an action pack full of tools to help you complete your spy mission and you are set loose to sleuth around Downtown Missoula. It's SO fun! Operation Checkmate is a points based game, not time based, so you can stop for a sweet treat or an adult libation at one of Missoula's many sweet shops and drinking holes. The game takes approximately 2 hours, played straight through, and times out after 3 hours, so don't take too long on your stops and forget about your mission! If you're ready to see for yourself just how much fun this game is, you can book your Operation Checkmate adventure here.
Unlike a traditional escape room, puzzle hunts take place out in the real world. Landmarks you pass by everyday become clues in a spy thriller taking place right in downtown Missoula. You'll explore places that are familiar and given new life, or maybe find places hidden away you never knew were there. Clues can be hidden in plain sight, revealed only with the help of a special augmented reality tool in your spy kit. The nature of a spy mission is stealthy so you'll want to do your best not to draw attention to yourself while playing the game, just like geocaching. That isn't to say not to tell people you are playing a Big Sky Breakout game when people ask what you're doing, just don't give away the mission!
If you're looking for some great outdoor fun that challenges your brain, makes you work as a team with your friends, and shows you Missoula through a new perspective, we at Big Sky Breakout and the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) have a mission for you! Operation Checkmate is up and running and waiting for you to enjoy!