HintHunt (London): The Safe

The Safe is an interesting experience. It’s clear from the website (and even clearer when you’re in the room) that, at its heart, it’s just a portable game. HintHunt has obviously created an experience that’s intended to be taken to other venues but, if you book the Safe at their venue, you’re effectively just put in a small room with the portable game and left to get on with it. In our case, that really was pretty much it. There was no introduction beyond being told we had to break into the safe. Not the best of starts.

Similarly, there’s very little story or theming once you’re inside the room. The titular safe obviously provides a very real goal and, as you’d expect given its portable nature, it’s very clear what you’re hacking into from the beginning but, beyond that, there’s very little to help with the immersion. That was made even worse by having played another game in the same space and seeing the leftover props from that. While I realise that we were playing a portable game, so very little else is needed, I really feel they should make more of an effort given that they’re charging the same price as for the Golden Share, a “proper” escape room.

Going in, I’d expected the experience to revolve completely around the Safe, but there were some other items dotted around the space which were relevant, so a proper search was still in order. Being told there were red herrings in the room was a little disappointing, but there weren’t many, and they didn’t hurt us too much. The game is mainly about puzzle solving and, on that front, it does reasonably well. It generally felt linear, so we often got in each other’s way or had to wait while someone else solved a particular challenge, but the puzzles were logical. My favourite part of the game was something that, in some ways, looked like a classic escape room prop but turned out to have two entirely different uses in two entirely different puzzles. On both occasions, it heavily encouraged two players to be involved, which made it particularly engaging.

User feedback during the game was good, and I was impressed to find that some seemingly unconnected props were aware of the solve states of other parts of the room and changed accordingly. Don’t make assumptions about how this game works – make sure you recheck things after you’ve solved a seemingly separate puzzle! Unfortunately, that cool technology also turned out to be a big negative in the room, with two of the final few puzzles failing and thoroughly ruining the end of the game for us (note: they then gave us a voucher for a free game to make up for the failures that had happened across the two games we played). The only saving grace was that we fluked the very final puzzle, so it didn’t affect us as much as it might have otherwise.

Verdict –

The Safe is a mobile escape room that HintHunt market alongside their other, more conventional, games. I found it a huge letdown. It felt like there were fewer puzzles. There’s almost no sense of exploration because it’s crammed into a tiny space. The red herrings from a previous game just felt like laziness. The tech failures, while clearly not common, were frustrating and not handled amazingly well during our game. If they’d brought this experience to my office, I’d have been a lot more excited, but having to travel to play it just left me feeling cheated.

We escaped in 45 minutes but would probably have been a lot faster were it not for the two tech failures holding us up at the end. It felt relatively easy as a three and could almost certainly (albeit expensively) be completed as a pair. Fundamentally, though, this felt like the mobile escape room it is and, compared to a traditional escape room, that was disappointing.

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