Month: February 2017

Room review: Freeing SG: Funeral: The Mourning Widow

This review is left here merely as a record.

Their description: In one’s lifetime, a visit to the funeral palour is inevitable. One day, you receive a letter from your friend’s wife, informing you of your friend’s death. Successively, mutual friends receive similar letters. Tonight is the setting up of the wake. Following the address stated in the letter, you make your way to attend the wake. As you enter the mourning hall, you feel a strange sense of discomfort. You decide to call your friend’s wife but there is no response. With no alternative, you make your way in alone, wanting to pay your last respects to your dear friend. The room where your deceased friend’s body lie, it is locked! What is going on??

The selling point of this Freeing SG room is its unprecedented (in Singapore) use of VR technology — but that also makes this a hard room to assess.

So let’s set aside the VR component for now. The room isn’t bad. The atmosphere is appropriately creepy and the setting evokes a traditional Chinese funeral convincingly. It’s not cripplingly terrifying, so even cowards like myself can give it a fair shot. There are some cool mechanisms used, and the initial flow of the room is very much in line with the storyline.

On the puzzle side of things, the room does sag a bit. The puzzles are generally logical, but the wording of clues isn’t perfect, there’s one throwaway puzzle (so throwaway that it’s easy to dismiss the solution as surely not being correct), and none of the puzzles are that exciting as puzzles (although the mechanisms compensate for this).

But for me, at least, none of that was really the point. I wanted to play this room to see how the VR headset would be used — and I think it was used to good effect. The actual puzzle it facilitated wasn’t impressive, but the execution was pretty cool; it’s hard to explain further without getting spoilery.

One big problem, though, was that my team experienced some technical difficulties. Which is a shame, because if the VR headset had worked perfectly, I think we’d have had a more satisfying experience in the room and come away with a better impression of it. As it was, I’m personally willing to overlook a lot of flaws if a room is ambitious and different — but my teammates were much less forgiving.

If you’re interested in seeing how VR can be used in escape rooms, then this room is definitely worth playing purely for the experience. Is it a fun room in its own right? It can be, particularly if the technology is working. On the whole I’d say it’s WORTH A TRY — unless you really can’t bear any technical malfunction or are completely uninterested in the VR aspect, in which case this is NOT RECOMMENDED for you.

Do note that a knowledge of Chinese is basically required for one puzzle and very helpful (though not technically necessary) for another one.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 4.5/5
Storyline integration: 2/5

Their suggested number of players: 6
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4

Room review: Escape Hunt: 27 Club

Their description: The 27 Club is a group of real-life famous musicians like Jimmy Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain who have died tragically at the age of 27. You are playing a famous rock star who will turn 27 soon, and an unexplained mystery has occurred in your dressing room. With 60 minutes to midnight, can you solve it or be the next addition to the 27 Club?

This room is a little silly, but I mean that in the best possible way. Escape Hunt’s rooms weren’t previously known for their sense of fun; 27 Club stands out for bucking that trend.

The room starts out straightforwardly enough, with logical puzzles of varying difficulty which also make good use of the dressing-room setting.

But then things start to get… interesting. The tasks and puzzles in the latter half of 27 Club are ridiculous, but for reasons unrelated to their underlying puzzle-logic. This means that — if your team is anything like mine — you shouldn’t have trouble solving them, but you’ll likely have a few laughs along the way. The endgame is particularly cute, and does actually provide a solution to the mystery.

Despite the would-be creepy room description, there’s nothing scary about this room either. In all, it’s a fun, occasionally quite creative ride that’s RECOMMENDED if you’re willing to be entertained more than challenged.

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

Atmosphere and setting: 3.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 3.5/5
Storyline integration: 4/5

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4

Room review: Escape Hunt: The Whitechapel Murderer

Their description: The year is 1888. You and your friends are famous London detectives who have been tasked with investigating the mysterious killings of the most dangerous and wanted serial killer in history. You have found what you believe to be the secret den of Jack the Ripper, and have 60 minutes to sneak inside to confirm his true identity before he returns and makes you his next victim!

This felt like an atypical Escape Hunt room, for good and bad reasons. There were a few fun physical flourishes and puzzle-solving mechanisms, which enlivened the experience and marked a step up from the lock-filled Escape Hunt rooms of old.

But this was also the first room in which Escape Hunt’s usual rigorous logic seemed to falter, with one puzzle featuring unused information that served as a red herring (as far as we could tell, anyway — we forgot to confirm this with the staff on the way out), another having a somewhat arbitrary final leap, and a third with slightly questionable ordering.

Nonetheless, it’s not a bad room. The decor and layout are fine (and not that scary — I’d say this room is kid-friendly despite the theme), there’s a decent mix of puzzles, and there’s at least one cool moment which alone makes it WORTH A TRY.

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 3/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 2.5/5

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

Their suggested number of players: N/A
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4