My fondness for escape rooms shows no signs of stopping. I recently completed my sixth this year and it was my proudest achievement so far: we escaped with around 13 minutes left on the clock and were the first team to get out.
When Quietschisto from RNG revealed he was going to be visiting London for a week last month, it seemed like the perfect excuse to combine an adventure with sightseeing. I found HiddenCity through a Google search and it seemed to offer just the sort of thing we were looking for: a treasure-hunt across the city where you had to solve challenges and interact with people you met along the way. We opted for the Bright Lights Evening Trail so we could explore London by dusk and take in the sights along the Thames.
Our journey started outside the National Theatre on the Southbank and, shortly after sending a text message to the number provided, we received our first clue. The mix of cryptic sentence and number code threw us off and we were left scratching our heads for several minutes. It took a bit of logical thinking but we got there – and this puzzle put us in the right frame of mind for the rest of our adventure. We sent our answer in a reply and soon got message back confirming that it was right, with directions to the next location and another clue.
The next challenge was more the sort of thing you’d expect to find in a cryptic crossword. It mentioned ‘squeezing’ and then ‘enlarging’ objects, which actually referred to removing letters and then adding them back into a title shown on a plaque beneath a nearby statue. We found that it took us a little while to get our heads around the style of the clues an the types of responses they were looking for; but after correct answers to the first few, we realised we were on the right track and picked up our pace.
Our adventure took us around central London, across the Golden Jubilee Bridge to Embankment, through the markets of Convent Garden and then on to Holborn. Even long-time Londonders Phil and myself saw some new sights as our experience took us down backstreets we didn’t even know existed. We came across a lovely little area in the Seven Dials full of colourful buildings and growing plants, which turned out to be home to the studios where Monty Python’s Flying Circus was produced.
Perhaps the highlight of our journey was when we received a clue pointing us to a bar. We had to go inside and say a particular phrase to a member of staff – which kind of worried us as they might not know what we were talking about! There was nothing to fear however because the barman handed over a shot glass of something and told us that the main ingredient was the answer we sought. Thankfully it was something recognisable and our response was correct, but this new type of ‘physical’ challenge geared us up for the last leg of the adventure.
I’m pleased to say that we completed it with no hints given or time penalties received, despite getting a little lost around Holborn for a few minutes towards the end! We treated our game as a casual one and reached the final destination in just over two hours and 20 minutes. But I can imagine how adding a competitive element would give it an exciting edge; if there had been other teams competing against us that night, I’m sure we’d have been running for the next clue rather than taking a slow stroll.
It was a really enjoyable experience and there are a few photographs from our evening below. I’d love to do another one of HiddenCity’s games soon so watch this space!
Bright Lights Evening Trail photo gallery
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.