Mixing the exciting puzzle solving skills of Indiana Jones, the intricate memo writing habits of Leonard Shelby with some dashing undercover James Bond-style suave, SFL’s Tracey and Samantha joined a team of super sleuths to see if they could save the world in 60 minutes at London’s newest live-game experience clueQuest.
Arriving at Lee Valley Technopark in Tottenham Hale, with its pillar box red façade and rectangular pagoda style windows on a muggy London evening, our team were in high spirits as had been practicing Rubix Cube, Sudoku and Professor Layton puzzles in preparation en route to the venue. clueQuest’s HQ looked like any other unassuming office reception area where we were greeted by Zoli, one of the four Papp brothers responsible for designing and running the game. He greeted us as if we were MI6 agents, called in by the mysterious Mr Q to help solve a series of clues and track down the whereabouts of four rogue agents. We were invited to search the locked rooms and told if we didn’t escape within 60 minutes, the bad guys would not only have won but would inevitably destroy the world.
Our first instruction was to search everywhere. It seemed smirkingly obvious but it soon became soberingly clear that it was easy to overlook the smallest of important details within the first frantic, overwhelming minutes. Lampshades, sofa cushions, toy building blocks, matchbox cars, books and coloured playing cards, even pot plants and clothes hanging inconspicuously all suddenly became worthy of attention as we suspiciously scratched our heads for help. There were clues literally everywhere but with a healthy dose of red herrings thrown into the mix and the emphasis of the experience was on sharing information. There was simply too much to uncover and solve by one person alone meaning genuine teamwork was the key to piecing together the clues in order to reveal the combinations to dozens of padlocks hiding away yet more secrets. “If something is locked, it’s locked for a reason” Zoli reminded us just before we got locked in at the start but thankfully our hour wasn’t all about decoding and maths. Quickly finding a key to a lock, combining found pieces of an object or scrambling a combination together from information written in plain view all proved easy, and as a team gave us a happy boost. Discovering secret compartments or delightfully, devilishly hidden items, deciphering riddles and following the many trails of evidence to unlock the way ahead actually proved to be much trickier, though importantly never impossible.
Aimed at families or co-workers wanting a uniquely fun, team building experience; a large MENSA IQ or a degree in cryptology isn’t required to succeed in clueQuest. Agents must instead rely on common sense and the ability to think or explore logically under pressure plus a healthy desire to play real-life detective! The range of puzzles meant there was something for every age and ability; some were purely visual, most actually involved physically moving or finding hidden items or spotting patterns in information whilst others involved building or using objects. It was interesting to see how and who on the team would solve what puzzle. The eagle-eyed would find the tiniest of objects neatly hiding away, the practical would build with ease whilst the brain boxes worked out just what the riddles meant. There were a couple of puzzles that required the whole team to take part and the euphoric celebrations when we finally escaped were real. Not that we made it through entirely on our own…
Behind the scenes, Mr Q. occasionally sent us a clue via the monitors in the room. If we were taking too long, he’d flash us a message that wasn’t cryptic or meant to lead us astray, (he was on our side after all), but neither did he tell us directly what to do. He merely hinted at where to explore next. The monitors also played a more sinister role as they show the 60 minutes being counted down in large white numbers. With 10 minutes left on the clock, the screen flashed red with each passing second whilst some panic inducing dance music quietly rumbled on in the background. Cue much dashing about, shouting, maniacal laughing and random attempts at hacking locks. Happily we made it out with 7 minutes to spare but apparently, 70% of players don’t save the world!
Though over the years gamers have enjoyed hunting for clues and solving puzzles in countless traditional point and clicks, brain training or adventure games, whilst movie goers have indulged in the cunning escapes of iconic silver screen characters, clueQuest is only the second real-life event game to come to London. Massively popular in Hungary, we heartily recommend this hour of code breaking, lock busting fun that is now available to UK audiences.
Sci-Fi-London would like to thank the clueQuest team for inviting us to play a complimentary game for purpose of this review