If you had to guess at the top rated London attractions on Tripadvisor, you’d probably guess at things like the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Les Miserables, Lion King, any number of big tourist draws, right?Well, you’d be right but did you know that they’re all beaten by an ‘escape game’ called HintHunt? I didn’t.
Weeks ago I was contacted through the Joe Blogs Blogger Network who were hosting a night at HintHunt with LV=. I did a bit of googling to find out more about HintHunt and read rave reviews from those who had been.It sounded from descriptions a bit like a version of a Crystal Maze mental or mystery game. Born in the mid-80s, I grew up with Crystal Maze and remember watching it with my dad, whose favourite part being imitating the Richard O’Brien ‘Start the fans please!’ bit. I especially loved (but was too young for) the Christmas specials which were done with children rather than adult participants.
So, intrigued by the prospect of finally getting to play something like that for myself, I signed up. Last week the event finally rolled around and on Wednesday night 25 bloggers gathered at the venue in Euston (which is really handily located only a few minutes from both Euston station and Kings Cross so super easy to get to from pretty much everywhere in the city), ready to play the game.
What is it?
The HintHunt website describes it as follows “You get 60 minutes to climb a mountain of puzzles and mysteries in a tiny room. The goal is simple yet challenging: get out in time! Else … you could be trapped inside forever! During this engaging and challenging game team members truly live and breathe in union for an hour”.
They have two different rooms – one a detective’s office and one a typical Japanese living room (the Zen room), we were to play the Zen room. The record for breaking out was 53 minutes.
We weren’t told anything before we entered the room about why we were there, and although you do work it out quite quickly, it would have been nice to have a bit of a briefing or back story before you go in for context and so you know what it is you’re ultimately trying to accomplish or look for (over and above the ultimate aim of getting out of the room of course), otherwise the first five minutes are sort of spent wondering what the point is.
I can’t tell you what’s in the room as that would spoil it but I will say that it is a combination of finding things, unlocking things, working out codes and combinations and solving problems. It’s not a physical game that involves too much exertion but you do end up moving about a bit and bending down for things, so I would advise dressing appropriately.
Although you’re locked in the room, one of the HintHunt staff will be watching and listening to you play from a room next door and throughout the game you will get hints flashed up on a TV screen in the room (which also doubles as a clock counting down your time!), so when you need a bit of a nudge in the right direction or just encouragement to keep going with what we were doing then you get alerted by the screen, ie. at one point we’d tried a key in a lock and thought it didn’t work (we’d been told not to force anything) and then a little message flashed up to try it again, so we’d been right but just failed to properly open it. The hints are part of the game, rather than an indication that you’re failing and without them I’m pretty sure I’d still be in there now. The only problem was that you couldn’t see the screen from all parts of the room so often had to rely on other people to shout out what it said or spend time getting to somewhere you could see it from.
The game can be played with up to five people and so we were all split into teams. My team was made up of me, Lucy from Foodie Force, Melinda from Miss Geeky and Catherine from Skylish. Do go and check out their blogs as they’re all lovely.
This is very much a team game and so at first it was a little odd playing a game like this with people that I hadn’t met before (I imagine the dynamics could be different with people you know well), but the ladies on my team were lovely and we all pulled together.We did get quite stuck at one point and I did fear that we weren’t actually going to get any further and even the hints weren’t helping us, but it was our failing, not the game’s.
As the clock ticked down and the music got more urgent sounding it all started to come together and we followed clue after clue until we knew we’d reached the final few bits of the puzzle. As we solved the final puzzle and the strip lights around the door turned red, we all screamed in excitement. And the clock stopped.
So did we break that record of 53 minutes? Absolutely not! But, we weren’t right down to the wire like one group who had only a second to spare. We managed to get out with 49 seconds left!
One hint for you, if you make it out, you will be asked for a team name. If you want to avoid that awkward Apprentice moment where you all either go blank or bandy about terrible names until someone suggests ‘The A Team’ then have a think about it beforehand!
We had so much fun and now I’m trying to convince my department to do a work social at HintHunt so I can try out the other room.You can read about HintHunt London and more ideas for family fun in London in this blog post on the LV= website.
My visit to HintHunt was provided on a complimentary basis but the views expressed here are my own unbiased opinions. Thanks Joe Blogs Bloggers Network and LV=!