Crack the code: Escape games and puzzle houses in Dubai
What’s On reviews the escape games in Dubai including Brainscape, Escape Quest, Hint Hunt and Challenge Chambers.
– Group activities
There are worse things than being locked in a room with your colleagues, we say to ourselves as we frantically search for missing keys in a bundle of clothes, hoping it will open the door to the outside world. Stacey and Aarti, our sharp features writer and methodical picture researcher, bash their heads together to solve the last conundrum, managing to buzz in the correct code, grab the keys and bolt for the exit.
We’re at Brainscape, Dubai’s newest escape game, and one of a handful to launch here this year alone. For the uninitiated, puzzle houses are immersive experiences where players are locked in a room filled with cryptic games, hidden keys and riddles they must crack in order to escape. They’re usually themed: for example, Brainscape’s theme lies somewhere between a Doomsday cult AGM and Hostel. If we don’t escape from our hotel room within the hour, we’ll be brainwashed by the guesthouse owners.
Despite our dire circumstances, Brainscape is great fun and an hour whizzes past in a flurry of searching, code cracking, lateral thinking and head scratching. A Big Brother-style camera watches our every move, helping to spell out a clue if we’re at a complete loss.
With three minutes left on the timer, we escape, proud as punch, and hungry for another game to conquer.
203, Building 12, Bay Square, daily 10am to 10.30pm, from Dhs105. Tel:(04) 4387724. Taxi: Business Bay Square. brainscapegames.com
Real life escape games have proved puzzlingly popular in the city, so much so that once you’ve cracked one game you’re hungry to tackle the next. Escape Quest puzzle house in Dubai has launched a new game for the summer and What’s On went to investigate.
Our team of five headed into the secret hideout of the mysterious Romanian geneticist Dr Zol Pasted whose body had vanished without a trace. Our job? Find out what happened, and get out within the hour.
The next 60 minutes passed in a perplexing blur of searching, re-searching, finding keys, passive aggressive remarks about not finding keys and discovering endless jars of pickled creatures.
Even with some generous spoon-feeding courtesy of the game-master – who communicates clues through a screen – we were still scrabbling around, frazzled by perplexing clue solving right up to the nail-biting last few minutes.
With 30 seconds to go the desperation in the room was palpable. Aided by one last shove from our helpful game-master, we put the final items in place and escaped. Tricks, clever gadgets and brilliant gimmicks will leave even a veteran detective totally engrossed. This is a definite contender for the best puzzle game
in the city.
HDS Business Centre, Cluster M, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, daily 10am to 11pm, Dhs100. Tel: (055) 2845382. Metro: JLT. escapequest.ae
The original puzzle house in Dubai sees teams of two to six try to crack four themed games within an hour. Check out our video review.
Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10.30am to 9pm, Dhs200 for two people, Thur to Sat 10.30am to 10.30pm, Dhs250 for two people. Tel: (050) 2560587. Taxi: Sunset Mall. challengechambers.com
Hint Hunt, which is currently ranked as the third best attraction in London, has already locked down puzzle rooms in Cape Town, Paris and Moscow, and recently set up home in Dubai’s Times Square Centre.
Their latest puzzle is the ‘Zen Room’.
Without giving anything away, your team of up to five people will be given 60 minutes to solve the mystery of the Zen Room, and ultimately break out of it. With an omnipresent, all-seeing puzzle master watching your every move, you’ll set out to try and conquer the quest at hand. Seconds in and we were frantically pulling out drawers and turning over tables. Precious minutes will be spent frantically searching for combinations to lockboxes, only to open them and find a new clue which made absolutely no sense. When those ‘eureka!’ moments happen and the seemingly confusing clues slot brilliantly into the unfolding story, the sense of achievement is unparalleled. If you find yourself stuck at any time, the puzzle master is able to communicate with you through a screen in the room. With only a minute left to spare, the What’s On team managed to solve the riddle of the Zen Room and could once again, taste sweet, sweet freedom.
Times Square Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 10am to 9pm, Dhs105. Tel: (04) 3212242. Taxi: Times Square Centre. hinthunt.ae