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From the outside, Mythic Escapes in the Three Rivers Mall may look like a typical game store. But step inside and you’ll find there’s much more beyond the doors.

The new Kelso business offers an escape room, where customers can immerse themselves in their own “cinematic adventure.” Picture this: You’re locked in a small room where you have to act out a storyline – a spy plot for example. You have to get out. A series of puzzles are before you to unlock the room and secure your safety.

Vancouver-based store owner James Omelina has seven “game masters” who create the stories and take the customers through the experience.

“There’s nothing like seeing the smiles on families’ faces,” Omelina said, after they solved the challenging puzzle together.

And it’s a challenge for the game masters too — they have to design the adventure to be difficult enough for a wide range of people but one that still allows them to succeed.

Omelina said the Kelso escape pod has an 80 percent success rate, but most groups still finish the game with less than 30 seconds remaining. The “Aha!” moment is best with a ticking clock, he said.

“We want everybody to be successful. That’s our goal. Then again, we don’t want to steal anybody’s ‘Aha!’ moment,” Omelina said. “It makes the experience cheap if there’s no risk.”

Omelina said he has a unique perspective on game theory as a service member; he was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and now serves in the Army National Guard. But his love of games started early, at the age of 5 or 6, with chess. He played both chess and Magic: The Gathering (a trading card game) competitively when he was young.

“We’re a bunch of nerds,” Omelina said, as he introduced the $130 TIE fighter model selling in his store. It’s the most expensive item, a model of the classic Star Wars spacecraft with a spherical center and two flat, hexagonal wings.

Mythic Escapes has a Vancouver branch that has a pirates-themed “Blackbeard’s Brig” escape room and a USS Dark Horizon adventure, which is loosely inspired by “Alien” and “Event Horizon” movies and includes high-tech retina scanners and voice recognition.

The Kelso store opened Black Friday. Omelina said the more spaces the business expands to, the more stories they can create with the escape rooms.

Prices range from $3.50 to $100 for the games. The escape rooms cost $10 per person for 20-minute adventures and $25-$30 per person for an hour-long adventure.

Veterans, firefighters or law enforcement officers get 10 percent off on retail items and can book their escape rooms for free. The store will have regular mall hours after New Year’s.

Contact Daily News reporter Hayat Norimine at 360-577-7828

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