FREEING SG’S CATHAY BRANCH IS NOW CLOSED.
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