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Escape from the Mysterious Chapel: The Review

Imagine finding yourself caught out in the thunderstorm, lightning briefly illuminating dark streets, sheets of rain buffeting you as you ran for shelter. Imagine ducking into a gloomy church, sheltering against the storm, and then finding yourself trapped. You now have to solve a serious of complex puzzles, searching high and low for hints and clues, in order to escape. That – is the Real Escape Game, the first in Singapore.

Well, admittedly, it was more of a light drizzle that drove me into the church, and it was quite well-lit, but I was most definitely excited at the prospect of spending an afternoon playing the role of a protagonist within a puzzle adventure game. Did it deliver? Well – Yes, and no.

Yes, I did spend two hours in heightened mental stimulation, thinking through various puzzles and clues in an attempt to decipher these ciphers, locate the questions and etc. The format of the game is such that one has to solve a certain series of puzzles in order to achieve your ultimate goal, the ability to escape the church through finding the password that allows you to exit. As the only team amongst six or seven to actually win, it was quite an exhilarating experience to have the light switch inside my head turn on, and the answer expose itself. There was a definite sense of achievement, coupled with the adrenaline rush of working against the clock.

It also delivered a prime intellectual challenge, one that kept me not only occupied, but also engaged throughout the afternoon. However, its delivery of my expectations were incomplete. The reason for me saying this is simple. Although it was an interesting and fun experience, it didn’t come close to fulfilling its potential. Firstly, despite the focus upon being trapped within a church, it does nothing to reinforce that fact, and is in fact, MCed by a rather jovial young man who makes it clear that this is a simple game. So, all my hopes of a horror house atmosphere were immediately dashed as I realized that the whole motif of being trapped wasn’t going to be used to its fullest potential.

Secondly, there exists almost no physical activity whatsoever. The full extent of my exertions were walking about the main hall of the church, looking for the clues stuck in not-too-well-hidden corners. Again, this took away from the role-playing aspect of the game, ending up with nothing more than a bunch of four to five people sitting around a table, solving puzzles and ciphers.

In its defence, it did allow for much interaction between team members, forcing them to work together against the one hour time limit they have to solve all the puzzles. However, for its price range, I did expect it to be much more dramatic, perhaps a horror house experience of attempting to open different doors, searching for clues inside clocks, thinking of interesting ways to escape the house. Interactions with the staff would have been nothing more than reminders that the players were trapped, and as much effort would have been taken to make the escape a realistic experience.

Ultimately, this works as a casual experience one would want to have with a couple of acquaintances, especially if one was trying to make friends or to get to know their team members better. Although hardcore role-playing geeks might feel that the Escape game didn’t live up to its fullest potential, I would still recommend it to people who enjoy puzzles, and wish to spend time with friends in a novel manner.

Escape from the Mysterious Chapel played out over the weekend, so unfortunately chances are if you haven’t gone, you won’t be able to see what the Mysterious Chapel was all about. Take heart though! The Real Escape Game will be returning to Singapore in May, so stay tuned for further information!

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