Hidden City (London): Bright Lights Evening Trail

I’ve been aware of Hidden City since they launched Moriarty’s Game in association with Timeout. I’d been close to signing up a few times but always found something else that was higher on my priority list – there are just so many fun experiences to be had in London and, with no expiry date on this one, it never quite made the cut.

Finally, I found myself with an evening free and three friends who were keen to do something, so we signed up for the Bright Lights Evening Trail and headed down to Southbank. That’s one of their £25 adventures – Moriarty’s Game is considerably more expensive at £60 and only runs during the day. It’s worth mentioning up front, in case it’s relevant to you, that, while you’ll be heading in all sorts of directions, there’s a general drift northwards during the game and you should expect to be up in the Holborn vicinity by the end.

The game is played via your phone, so whoever signs up will receive the clues by SMS. The rest of you can just accompany them but, in order to get maximum enjoyment, I’d recommend that everyone registers. That’s trivially easy to do at any point during the game, and all subsequent messages will be sent to everyone who’s registered. Everything is done by text and, for us at least, they all arrived within seconds, were well written and made sense. It’s great when the technology just works.

The game is, at its heart, a treasure hunt trail with cryptic clues telling you where to head next. We found those clues sufficiently challenging to keep us guessing for quite a while but never to the point where we needed a clue or felt that the answer was a massive leap. Regular readers will be pleased to hear that the odd puzzle-like clue is thrown in along the way, although they weren’t very inventive. In spite of the small number of puzzles involved, they still managed to be a little repetitive at times.

Along the trail there are a couple of “breaks” conveniently placed just next to drinking establishments. They presumably agreed to plan breaks at the appropriate points in the game in return for each company allowing them to make use of their premises for the trail. We chose not to take advantage of any of those breaks and just moved straight on each time, and it never felt particularly awkward.

All in all, this was a fun evening, traversing various parts of London with a technology system that Just Worked™. There was nothing about the trail that was really new to me but, if you’re not familiar with the centre, and particularly if you’re a tourist, then it’s a nice stroll that will take you through a few interesting parts of London. The game may be challenging, but the clues aren’t amazingly exciting, so the enjoyment you get from it will very likely be entirely down to the team you take with you. Choose wisely!

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