Game Review: Trapped & Xcape Singapore
You’re locked in a mysterious room with a group of strangers (or friends). There’s only one way out – decoding a series of clues. A clock ticks above your head. A sealed door is wedged between you and freedom. You only have 60 minutes. Every minute spent dwelling on a puzzle is another minute lost.
Room-escape reality games are a trend designed and developed in Japan. Leaving computers behind to embrace hands-on analogue puzzles, they give participants a unique physical and realistic role in a story. Brought to our shores by Xcape Singapore 2 years ago, escape games have been sprouting up everywhere in Singapore since then.
UrbanWire checks out Xcape Singapore and its competitor, Trapped, to take a crack at this puzzle-filled phenomenon.
Xcape Singapore: Tomb Raider
Not to be confused with the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, the Tomb Raider Room, part of Xcape’s second season, is loosely based on Kennedy Xu’s novel series, Grave Robbers’ Chronicles, and set in an ancient Chinese burial ground.
After a brief on the rules, the nine participants are led into a dimly lit room with haunting music. Our game master relays the storyline, starts the timer, bids us adieu and locks us in.
Skulls decorate the walls with eerie tombstones and altars filling the room. The horror movie fanatic in us nods wildly in approval.
In order to advance, we have to solve a series of puzzles, each more difficult than the last. Wielding two flashlights, we set out to decipher our first clue.
Xcape, billed as having more high-tech contraptions compared to its competitors, does not disappoint. We interact with a variety of lasers, sensors and other elaborate mechanisms designed to impede progress. But they too raise Xcape’s thrill-factor a notch above your average escape game.
After 20 minutes of trying to find the key to a locked chest, we’re left stumped and demoralised. Determined not to waste any more time, we wave our clue card like a white flag.
What starts as a solitary room ends up “growing bigger” as more clues are found (or given, in our case). But be warned, Tomb Raider is not for claustrophobics.
At the third room, this writer starts to lose whatever composure she has. “I sacrifice you,” says Jody Lim, a 16-year-old student from Tanglin Secondary School, who is playing with us. “Crawl inside a coffin,” she adds. The writer reluctantly scramble in so as not to look like a spoilsport in front of these kids.
It’s likely to find yourself thrown out of your comfort zone and stuck in a difficult situation during the game. Nonetheless, don’t be afraid to take up the challenge. Not only will it make for a unique experience, but it’s also the only way you’ll get your money’s worth! It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Did we make it out? Not even close. Will we go back to finish it? In a heartbeat.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Thrill Factor: 5/5
Skill Set: Courage, Imagination, Physical Activity
Special Notes: The key to the second room will be with you from the start
Trapped SG: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games room, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, is a new instalment to Trapped Singapore’s Khandar Street outlet.
This time, three UrbanWire writers are left at the mercy of our wits to fend for ourselves.
The first thing we notice is how bright the room is compared to Tomb Raider. Vintage knick-knacks decorate the space and the walls are lined with adorable floral wallpaper. The ambient music soothes rather than unnerves.
Despite not really feeling the fear, we are sucked in nonetheless.
Admittedly, this writer feels like Katniss Everdeen for the first half hour – “the girl on fire” with a keen mind and drive to succeed. Sadly, that illusion is soon shattered as we progress and the puzzles get increasingly complicated.
The second cottage-style room proves the most difficult. After completely expending whatever observational skills we possess, we’re now stuck in an endless cycle of deciphering codes and locks (we counted 10 locks altogether). We’ve hit a dead end.
Feeling dejected (again), we throw in the towel and look to our friendly guide for assistance. With his help, we finally manage to escape! Despite, its difficulty, we recommend this room to Hunger Games’ fans looking to put their extensive knowledge of trivia to the test and to seasoned escape room veterans looking for a challenge. We’ll have to become one or the other before we play again – neither option is likely to happen to us anytime soon..
Overall Rating: 3/5
Thrill Factor: 2/5
Skill Set: IQ, Attention to detail
Special Notes: Search every inch, especially the walls.
Escape games are a great alternative to the usual karaoke or movie outings. It is the perfect group activity to bond and interact over, even if it’s just making fun of each other afterwards! For a better experience, we suggest putting more heads together by going in a larger group of four to eight. Or you may end up surrendering in defeat, like us!
Have you joined in the Escape Room craze? Let us know what you think about them in the Comments below!
Xcape Singapore Season 2
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Address: Bugis Village, 160A Rochor Road, S188435
Tel: 6337 4905
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 11am to 11.30pm
Off Peak Hours (Weekdays before 6.45pm) – $22
Peak Hours (Weekdays after 6.45pm, Weekends and Public Holidays) – $28
Trapped Singapore 1st Outlet
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Address: 42 Kandahar Street, S198896
Tel: 6292 2177
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11am to 11pm, Fri – Sun: 11am to 2am
Off Peak Hours (Weekdays before 6pm) – $22
Peak Hours (Weekdays after 6pm, Weekends and Public Holidays) – $24
Photos courtesy of Xcape Singapore and Bryan Chua