This kind of real life puzzle game is getting more and more popular lately, with different outlets offering the similar experience. After looking through some of the websites, I decided to try out the The Escape Hunt. Other than its good reviews, the main reason is because their games are designed for a small group of players.
There were 5 players in our group - the maximum number to occupy a game room. One was a seasoned player who had played similar games 3 times previously (with other operators) and is addicted to it. The other four were first-timers.
We arrived early for the briefing, and was greeted by the receptionist before we met the friendly game master. The reception area is quite spacious, equipped with sofa sets and a big Escape Hunt logo for photo taking, complete with Sherlock Holmes-inspired props.
We were first served a cup of plain water, and then the game master explained the basic rules and the background story of the game we chose (Bomb in the Cellar - advanced level). Game story from the website: "A warning note has been sent to the Police about a bomb in the cellar of a wealthy businessman, who refuses to leave his house! Play detectives and race against time to find the culprit in 1 hour and before the bomb goes off."
Cellphones are not allowed in the room and we left our bags outside. The game master said that we are not supposed to turn over the heavy furnitures to look for clues and anything on the ceiling is not part of the game. There's a button on the wall that can be used to call her during the game to ask for hints. Every time hint is given, 1 minute is added to the total time we spent inside the room. There is no limit to the number of hints we can ask - we can ask for every single hint and miss all the fun. A whiteboard is placed on the wall for us to write on. A big timer is placed on the main door. The goal is to solve the puzzle and finally leave the room before 1 hour is up.
Once we were left to our own devices, we started rummaging the room looking for clues. There were locked wardrobe, locked sewing machine, locked crate, table with drawers, jars on the floor, semaphore codes on the wall, small statues, clocks and what-nots.
We called the game master 2 times throughout the game - each time she stayed on until we were completely over that step, even when that meant giving a few hints altogether. After a total of 3 rooms, we finally managed to open the main door with the timer showing 2 mins 20 secs left. So after factoring in the extra 2 mins, our total time inside was 59 mins 40 secs.. *wipe sweat..* That was close!
After the game ended we were served tea at the lounge and then did some photo taking with the game logo as background, wearing "Sherlock Holmes" costumes and carrying the props. The T-shirts and costumes are on sale too.
It's a great, unique experience!