e were a couple of pints in at the Pack & Carriage – it was a Wednesday so the place was popping off for their weekly quiz night.
Sitting in for about half an hour, semi-listening, we didn’t manage to answer a single one of their questions correctly, so joked (or sincerely hoped) that this wouldn’t set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Why? Because we had an appointment a few doors down on Eversholt Street, with Hint Hunt. “Phone calls will come,” we were told, once we’d checked in, “bearing sets of clues.” Okaaay. “No one has completed this without hints,” the reception person added, as we silently set ourselves the challenge of being the first people ever to do so.
It’s safe to say, the phone rang for the duration of our hour-long lock-in. Without giving too much away, here is what we learnt while hunting for hints:
1. Plough through the first section. It’s a game of lost and found. Things get really complicated, really quickly, with new rooms, word translations, symbol and picture correlations. It’s a minefield: well, compared to the initial bit anyway, which is basically finding your lost keys in grandma’s living room.
2. To complete the game you need to gather a motley crew of your most cognitively diverse friends; everyone needs to see and perceive things differently. That means one who sees the bigger picture, one who’s good at maths, an arty one, another who thinks firmly in the box, and another who’s so lateral they barely know what the box looks like.
3. Check and recheck: don’t trust the work of your motley crew. And don’t take too much pride in your own inspections either.
4. Don’t get distracted by how much fun the Hint Hunt team must be having watching you all scramble and squabble. We spent too long discussing what fun the puppet-masters must be having, musing over what they’ve learnt about the human psyche from all that spectating.
5. Prepare to learn something new about yourself. Turns out I’m the paranoid one, gradually growing more suspicious and distrusting. I assumed that anything that looked too elaborate and interesting – like a giant Sudoku board – was a red herring. It wasn’t. In my defence, at my previous room escape, I’d spent a good quarter of an hour frantically translating hieroglyphics before the phone kindly rang and the puppet-master told me to stop.
6. The last ten minutes are a hot mess. Bickering, squabbling, snatching. You’ll need to take a long hard look at yourself when it’s all done. Like a losing football team in the final throes of a World Cup, everyone forms into a little cavalry. Teamwork, dignity and strategy are flung out the window, replaced by a desperate mob of incapable problem solvers, running en masse from clue-to-clue. If you’re wondering, there’s a 50/50 success rate at Hint Hunt: and yes, my not-motley-enough crew and I didn’t escape. Next time.