February 06, 2017
We love enjoying new entertainment experiences and one of the more recent ones to take London by storm (and seemingly, many other cities of the UK) is Escape the Room games! Essentially a point and click adventure game brought to life, the experience is one that has been extremely popular, especially in corporate teambuilding, so we decided to give one a go. What could be better than spending an hour attempting to escape a locked room?
Upon arriving at our Escape Room of choice, HintHunt, we aren't given too much information on what may occur. We are told a certain number of things are nothing to do with the game (the air ventilation should be left alone) and that there is no point searching one piece of set decoration in particular as it's literally there just for show. Our friendly helper acknowledges that even though he tells every group this, there will always be a few teams who disregard his advice and think that's part of the game. Nope, it really is just a prop. My group and I - there are five of us - all squint at one another in a jokey manner. Maybe this is part of the game! Of course it isn't... The game doesn't begin until the door is locked with us on one side and our helper on the other. Once the clock begins counting down from sixty minutes, that is when we can begin!
It'd probably be a good idea at this point to explain our surroundings. As one might expect from an Escape the Room game, you are simply locked in a room. In order to make the situation a little more exciting, it's not like being locked in a lounge at home. Every room has some sort of theme and there is a basic story baked into the surroundings that will slowly become revealed as you get further into the mystery. Our particular room was called the Zen Room and took its inspiration from Japan. Various art adorned the walls, there were a couple of small tables and various books and other items. Oh and a lot of padlocks. We suspected they would almost certainly need to be unlocked by the end of the game!
With the clock starting to count down, we all rushed to pretty much pull apart everything we could see. A key! A key! I found a key! Someone else found another item and others were shouting out symbols and blocks of something they'd found. What does it all mean? It's fair to say we got off to a pretty good start (well, it felt like we got off to a good start anyway) and unlocked a few padlocks. But by about fifteen minutes in, the cogs weren't quite working together fully. Thankfully the people at HintHunt know that you might need a few clues along the way and give you a hint or two to hunt out (see what we did there?) This serves to reinvigorate the team, helping you to find something new and also making sure that one team doesn't just stand about for the final forty-five minutes of their time, staring blankly at the items in the room and struggling to prise open the door with their pen knife.
It's a lot harder to review the rest of our experience without ruining anything for anyone else looking to have a go at HintHunt. They specifically ask you not to reveal anything to others upon leaving as naturally it's a lot more exciting to go in without knowing any of the clues or ways to push your team on to victory. As such, we'll simply say that it isn't just keys and padlocks that you'll need to progress and it really helps if you a) communicate with one another often and b) finish a task that you have devoted yourself to doing. All too often we'd endeavour to do something specific like flick through a book or search a table... After finding nothing after a quick search, we'd move on. No! Always check a second time. Or maybe check another book instead. There'll almost certainly be something that you've missed. Oh and there'll also be a huge number of red herrings which won't help you escape the room in the slightest.
In an effort to make sure nothing in this review spoils your experience, we may even have included a few red herrings in this blog as well.
But seriously, all we can say about our HintHunt experience is that you should try an escape room at least once. Maybe it turns out that escaping from a locked room isn't your thing but the vast majority of people, this will be an absolute blast of an experience. With The Crystal Maze also being a huge success and the recent rise in board gaming, it's fair to say face-to-face games (rather than online ones) are becoming increasingly popular. Oh and don't be afraid of failure. On average, teams receive five to ten clues per game and if you can't escape after that, well, you'll be in the half of people who don't escape.
We can almost sense your question. "So?" We can hear you wondering, "Did you manage to escape?" Yes we did! With only one hundred seconds left on the clock (or one minute and forty if you prefer to use standard times), we managed to open the door and get ourselves to safety. Would we be back? Almost certainly. But before all that, we were able to enjoy the pub next door. Wahey!
For more information on HintHunt, please click here.
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By Henry Fosdike