By Raffles Press
If the holiday proves to be dreary and boring, consider this: excitement. Crave the adrenaline rush that comes with writing your conclusion in a minute? The exciting feeling of waiting for the teacher to utter the question that decides your PW grades? Do not fear! You can now escape more than your promo results and PW group mates, for the escape rooms are here. Raffles Press visited four different escape rooms (which were definitely exciting), and we are here now to tell you all you need to know about them.
1. LOCATION: Xcape Bugis Village
GAME: Resident Evil
The date: 16 October. A day before the release of our Promotional Exam results. One might imagine that a visit to an escape room would be a strategic move — surely the heart-racing thrills from this puzzle-box of horror would be a suitable prelude to the anxiety that the next day would bring (and, perhaps, even soften the blow awaiting us). Such was our sentiment as we entered the room, expecting a good scare and a fun time.
While fun, the room was more a test of intelligence than courage, to the point that even those in our group who had experience with escape rooms found it rather challenging. The puzzles we tackled ranged from visual riddles to problems demanding good aim and physical dexterity. Some of the challenges had extremely unpredictable solutions, allowing for a multitude of approaches. Though we did not manage to finish the entire course, the debrief provided by the gamemasters showed us the level of thought that had gone into the plotting of the room.
Overall, though, most of us were unfamiliar with the Resident Evil franchise, so we were unable to make a solid judgement on how well it replicated the setting of the game. Still, the setting could be more immersive – the environment was mostly static, with the same background music looping over and over the course of the game. More easily spooked players might find this a plus, since the fear factor wasn’t very high. Though the room pays homage to a Japanese horror game, it was prominently lacking in ‘scare’ factor- which one may have been clued into if they had seen the short summary of the game written on the pamphlet that can be found at the front desk.
While we left feeling slightly disheartened that we did not complete the room, we nonetheless felt a sense of achievement for the puzzles we had managed to crack as a team. We vowed that day to return once more to the world of the Puzzle Room – next time, perhaps, even emerging victors.
Address: Bugis Village, 152B (level 3), 160A (level 2) & 158B (level 3) Rochor Road, S188435
Nearest MRT: Bugis
OVERALL RATING: 3/5
2. LOCATION: The Escape Artist
One hour. 5 rooms. A ticking time bomb.
“All the best!” A staff member quips cheerfully as he swings the door closed, leaving us to stare blankly at each other for a second before scrambling into action, rummaging for clues hidden in the props scattered around the small room. Though not high on the fear factor, eerie music and the constant tick tick tick in the background succeed in keeping us on our toes and the tension high throughout the game.
While the goal is quite straightforward— according to the website, the room is the easiest one The Escape Artist has to offer— it is not as easy as it seems. Red herrings are insidiously scattered everywhere. We find out the hard way that some props which seem important are merely decorative, or deliberately planted to lead players astray. There is also the dilemma of not just which props to use, but when to use them, as the relevance of some only becomes apparent later in the game. A bit of laboratory knowledge comes into play too — but you should be able to figure it out between yourselves!
The more adventurous might find thrill in the physicality of the game— we had to ascend a ladder to get to a hiding spot and slide down a steep ramp to another. It definitely made the game more of a challenge, but we reckon you’d have fun tackling these small obstacles.
One aspect of gameplay that differentiates The Escape Artist from the other escape rooms out there is the unlimited number of clues given out to participants during the game. A phone will be provided to each group for them to dial the front desk if they find themselves stumped at any point. First-timers may find this particularly helpful.
We would recommend this room to those new to escape rooms due to the lack of horror, and its relatively low difficulty. (That said, it still does require a fair bit of brain wracking and thinking out of the box.) If you claim to be a veteran in the escape room game, trying out one of the other rooms might be more of an exciting challenge for you.
Address: 52 Telok Blangah Road, Telok Blangah House #01-01 (S)098829
Nearest MRT: Harbourfront
OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5
3. LOCATION: FREEING! Singapore
Tucked in a corner of the seventh floor beside the movie theatre in Plaza Singapura, it is all too easy to miss FREEING! Singapore. Nonetheless, the convenient location is a plus point in these reviewers’ books. With more than 10 different escape rooms varying in difficulty and theme, one is spoilt for choice. Not every type will be available all the time though, so do check out their website before you go. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, as we went for one of the easiest escape rooms (because we’re bad at this…), Poseidon.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon, worry not. The helpful staff began the experience with the room’s synopsis before sending everyone in. Right off the bat, we were thrown into a strange setting – a waist-deep ball pit dimly lit with blue light served as the start point of this escape room. Of course, some time was spent fooling around in the ball pit, but eventually the task at hand (escaping) could not be neglected. Though this was only the first room, we took quite a while to unlock it. A few minutes in and it was clear that we definitely should not have underestimated the so-called easiest room.
While the task required to unlock the first room was more tedious than mentally challenging, the second room tested our problem-solving skills. In order to unlock the second room, a series of tasks had to be completed using only the cryptically-worded clues scattered around the room. Despite our best efforts, we ended up trapped and had to ask the staff for a hint before completing this stage.
The last room was almost pitch-dark, illuminated only by a digital timer on the wall, showing the amount of time we had left to complete the game. After stumbling around for a while and admiring the room’s many props, we eventually solved the final puzzle. (More or less, although the staff had to come in and help us actually escape.)
All in all, the experience was highly entertaining. We had a good time laughing at our own incompetence and playing around with the unique props and elements of the rooms. That being said, don’t make the same mistake as we did. Poseidon may be a beginner-friendly room, but escaping it is definitely easier said than done!
Address: 68 Orchard Road #07-08A Singapore 238839
Nearest MRT: Dhoby Ghaut
OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5
4. LOCATION: Lost SG
“You’re all first-timers?” the staff member paused her typing, staring at us in concern. “Are you sure you want to do Aokigahara?” Cue nervous laughter. The room we had initially booked, acclaimed to be the hardest, most terrifying room that Lost SG had in store, was starting to seem less and less appealing by the second. At the sight of our mild (major) panic, the staff — both in amusement and charity — offered a switch to a “much easier” room, Mausoleum.
While assertedly “easier”, it was plenty daunting in its own right. We entered the Mausoleum with uncertain steps of trepidation, immediately coming face-to-face with a looming Terracotta figure glowering at our paltry party. It was perhaps only the friendly staff member’s safety briefing that momentarily broke the atmosphere’s rapture: with its dark lighting, ominous music, and Chinese period decor, the room frighteningly exemplified its theme of an ancient Chinese dungeon visit gone terribly wrong.
We can’t reveal too much about the trials we went through (that would spoil the fun!), but we definitely faced a variety, ranging from high-tech, sensor-driven puzzles that surprised us with their ingenuity, to those which were more analog and involved lateral thinking. One particular challenge had us contorting our bodies in odd shapes, and others had us use implements present in the room (or initially hidden and revealed by us solving an earlier puzzle), in interesting but intuitive ways. We recommend this as a good jumping-off point into the creatively-concocted worlds of escape rooms.
With a mixture of first-timers and players with bad track records at escaping rooms successfully, it was shocking that we actually managed to escape the room within the time limit of 1 hour and using only 2 hints, an achievement which earned us a spot on their wall of fame (in the silver range!). Although initially excited at this prospect, our enthusiasm was slightly dampened by the rows of photos already lining the (multiple) wall(s). Nevertheless, Raffles Press is proud to say that we have left our mark.
Address: 1 Sophia Road, #03-01/02/03, 228149
Nearest MRT: Dhoby Ghaut (only a 7 minute walk!)
OVERALL RATING: 4/5