Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Door in a Wall, 17th March

To say I'm a big fan of treasure hunts would be to grossly understate my enthusiasm. Especially if those treasure hunts have an interactive element.

Having had my first taste of such a thing in New York, completing Accomplice, I then did a couple of treasure hunts in London, one with Hidden City for some real cash money ( which I didn't win) as a prize, and one just for fun.

A friend of mine told me about A Door in a Wall and it sat patiently on my List for a good while until we found out about the 'abridged' version they were doing in Boxpark and its environs.

Normally more expensive and lasting upward of four hours, this one was about £10 and the hunt lasted 2 hours. There was an additional hour for you to ‘make your case’ and for the winner to be decided.

We gathered at the arrival time and were presented with our press packs. The premise was that, as a new fashion company were about to launch their new line (and we were the journalists covering the launch) the chief fashion designer was murdered! We had to uncover the culprit.

Press pass for launch
The packs gave you pretty much all the information you needed, but then we had to sit through a press conference in which it was all repeated, just itching to get out there and get an advantage. We had our approach mapped out and everything. Finally we were set loose on Boxpark to discover what we could about the crime.

We only just about completed in time. What at first seems like not many things to solve is deceptive – you are given six starting points and each starting point leads on to about four further clues which culminate in collecting or noting some evidence. Is it a red herring? You can only really tell once you have followed each and every lead. If you weren’t able to finish and get to each clue, you could easily end up making the wrong deduction.

Clue taking you to Redchurch Street
The clues also lead us further than I was expecting – all the initial clues started in Boxpark but some lead you all the way up Curtain Road and to Arnold Circus (forgive me if you don't know the area). With the clock ticking, to cover all this ground did require some actual physical exertion on occasion! Along the way you might meet some characters who would ply you with the information you needed, though mostly it was a case of guessing the next location, and keeping your eyes peeled and your wits about you once you were there to find the next hint.

A weblink to follow...
The exceptions to this were a recorded voicemail you had to listen to and a couple of YouTube videos that pointed you in the right direction. In this aspect it was very similar to Hidden City where you can complete the trail with no human interaction (you solve clues texted to you to guide you to the next destination where you then answer a question you can only answer by having got to the right place). The addition of some characters along the way was more similar to Accomplice.

But A Door in A Wall differed from both of these by the finale. Once you have gathered as much evidence as you can, you have a sheet to fill in – you say why you have come to the conclusion you have (both why for the culprit, and why not for the other suspects). Then the organisers look over it all and announce a winner.

We were feeling confident. We knew we’d found every clue and had covered all of them in our report. What we hadn’t done was perhaps leave enough time to write this as elegantly and eloquently as possible – we had favoured a bullet point format while scoffing burritos. And that was our downfall. As the winner was announced we were told that it had been very close, very close indeed and in the end had to be decided through articulation. They then gave ‘A Dior in a Wall’ (our hilarious play on words team name – prizes were given for that and we only got an honourable mention) another honourable mention and we knew we had lost.

Next time… next time…

Actually the ‘next time’ is already sold out so…

The time after that… the time after that…

I really, really enjoyed this. I worried at first that it would be too easy but after finding the first one, that fear was blown out the water. No, they got the level of challenge right. The other thing I worried about was that there would be so many people playing that any personal ingenuity would go to waste as you ended up just following other people from clue to clue. That was also a fear quickly dismissed.

I cannot recommend this enough in fact. Take some companions who can think laterally and are willing to put the effort in and you won’t be disappointed.

Now all's left is to do Hint Hunt!

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Please feel free to add your views, or maybe suggest somewhere I should put on my list!