Friday, August 2, 2013
HintHunt, 30th July
And so I come to the final challenge of HintHunt - writing about HintHunt. Without giving anything away that is. And while that might be frustrating for the reader, trust me, if you're going to ever go (and I really think you should) you'll appreciate not having seen any spoilers.
You know pretty much nothing when you go into the room other than being told not to smash things open in order to find clues. Apparently some people in their excitement/desperation go a bit too far and start breaking things. Which led to the next hint - if you see something has sellotape on it, don't unpeel the tape, thinking something is hidden under there. The tape is just evidence that someone got a little carried away on a previous visit.
It's easy to see why. They told us the main thing they can tell you to help is check everything. Then check it again, and again. But when you feel like you AND all your fellow hunters have done just that but seem to have come to a hiatus you do start to wonder if you haven't gone far enough. Is something inside that innocent-looking object? But it doesn't open! It will if I smash it on the floor! Happily, we didn't get to that stage of delirium, with another look round we always seemed to find another clue, and we did escape the room. Well, sort of. We found all the clues with one second to spare but had one final task to finish before the door would open and so we were kindly given an extra couple of minutes to do that.
I was 'anxious' even before we went in, already ramped up on adrenaline released by going into the unknown and wanting to conquer it. I love these sorts of things and have done quite well on them in the past (ahem, almost winners of A Door in a Wall) and felt my own pressure to succeed. Then, once you're in the room you are racing against time with the clock on the wall ticking off each second which rather piles on the pressure. The room is by no means large but everyone was moving around so rapidly in it, I actually got a bit sweaty from exertion!
It turns out we got the hard room - the Zen room. And it IS hard compared to some of the other clue-based things I've done. You definitely need a lot of mental agility to unlock some of the clues. However, part of the game is to be given hints along the way. I honestly don't think you'd get to the end without them. So, one of the girls sits in a cubby hole and watches the action inside unfurl via CCTV. This could be a little unnerving but they're on your side. Yes, they are watching to make sure you're not vandalising anything but mainly they are there to give you hints when you've got as far as you can and need something to nudge you in the right direction. This was invaluable when we'd actually solved some of the clues but for some reason weren't getting the right result. It was great to have someone say, 'no, you're right, keep trying' before we abandoned that line of thinking.
We had five on our team which is the maximum number of people. Four is the optimal and I think it might have been slightly better like that as with five of us there were moments where one of us was at a bit of a loose end while the others figured out one of the clues. I would say there are definitely elements of working as a team (another hint we got was to communicate and listen inside the room, yeah, I know, big hint), but if you're going to get out you do all have to take individual initiative. There are so many clues to solve, some of you need to be working on some while others work on something else. You do need to be vocal and somewhat methodical, letting everyone know what you've found that might be needed and keeping track of it all. And on top of all this, there were plenty of red herrings and we definitely wasted time with some of them - it only really becomes obvious what were dead ends right at the end. Until then, everything could potentially come of use.
While it did feel a bit treasure-hunty, it's a unique experience. And deserves the praise that has been heaped upon it. It's quite an exhilarating hour and I wish I could tell you more about it. And of course, photography and filming were strictly forbidden so I have no images to share. The girls that are on hand to set you up and keep an eye on you are fabulous - very friendly, very funny, help you out just when you need it but not before. I cannot wait to go back and try the John Monroe room. I wish I could do it for the first time all over again. Honestly, get a team together and get down there!