Room review: Encounter: The Hospital

ENCOUNTER’S GEYLANG BRANCH IS NOW CLOSED.
This review is left here merely as a record.


Their description: What happened to Mrs Fong and her daughters? What will be revealed in The Hospital?

(Sequel to The Apartment)


Encounter’s first room, The Apartment, was always going to be a tough act to follow. Ever since its launch back in 2014, it’s remained miles ahead of the local competition in providing a thoroughly engaging and immersive time. Even if its puzzles weren’t necessarily mindblowing, the sheer experience certainly was; there’s a reason that Encounter describes itself as providing an “interactive real-life suspense game with the element of an escape game”.

That first paragraph of set-up is necessary to explain why, upon finding out that The Hospital is closer to a standard escape room experience, my team was somewhat disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong. The Hospital is a thoroughly solid escape room. The puzzles are rigorous and (with the exception of one minor point in an intermediate puzzle) unambiguous, without being boring. There’s a lot of subtle signposting, which might make the room too easy for experienced teams (but is very satisfying to think about afterwards, if you’re interested in puzzle signposting and room design).

Encounter is a company with a strong focus on setting and story, and that shows. The atmosphere is appropriately suspenseful without being overblown, and the generous use of space really helps to give a sense of progession. The room’s writers have also managed to build up a rich narrative without resorting to clumsy info-dumps. There’s a lot going on story-wise, some of which you might miss if you’re just focusing on the next lock.

But it has to be said: in terms of atmosphere and immersion, The Hospital does not live up to the unfairly high standards set by The Apartment. If you go in expecting a repeat of The Apartment, you won’t get it. You’ll probably enjoy yourself more if you approach The Hospital with curiosity about how the story behind The Apartment will be explained, or with expectations calibrated for a more conventional escape room experience.

Speaking of which, I’d personally say that teams must play and complete (or mostly complete) The Apartment before playing The Hospital. One of The Hospital’s strongest moments — the highlight of the experience, to me — builds directly upon players’ prior experience of The Apartment.

RECOMMENDED if and only if you’ve played The Apartment, but adjust your expectations. Everyone should play The Apartment, anyway. Everyone.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3/5
Storyline integration: 5/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 8
My suggested number of players: 3 to 5

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