Before we get started, this article will be VERY light on the images. The people who run the event are very particular about keeping everything as secret as possible and so phones, cameras and all that stuff were prohibited during the event time.
So in Japan there is a company known as Scrap who host events around the country known as “Real Escape Games”. This basically means groups of people go to these events and perform a series of timed puzzles in order to “escape” from whatever scenario is presented to them. They are usually themed on anime or video games but the company also has a host of original stories for you to experience. You can check out their website (in Japanese) here: http://realdgame.jp/
Scroll down that page a little bit and you’ll notice that between all the original stories they have are things like Phoenix Wright, Death Note, Detective Conan and Attack on Titan themed games. It’s all the same thing where you solve a bunch of puzzles but the scenario presented to you will be themed on something on that game/shows universe.
So me, my wife, and a few friends all hopped on a bullet train to Osaka to take part in the Biohazard (Resident Evil) themed escape game being hosted at Universal Studios. The Biohazard game at Universal is a slightly different beast to the other escape games. While other games mainly have you sat down at a table solving problems, this one has you running up and down a 4 storey building solving problems while zombie actors scare the living daylights out of you. Think of it like a haunted house but you have to do puzzles to get out rather than just going through a linear path.
When the event starts everyone is taken into a large conference hall type place where the staff present the team with a map. Once some people have filtered in and sitting logistics have all been worked out they staff come round a second time and present the team with a tablet and a phone that have software specially prepared for the game. Before the game starts it just has the umbrella logo on it but once things get going the tablet is how the puzzles are presented to you and also where you input your solutions once you have worked them out.
Once everything is ready some actors appear on a stage and play out the scenario which involves something to do with a zombie breakout and the building being put on lockdown. Everyone gets infected and you have to find the cure AND escape within an hour or everyone dies. Once that’s over with the game begins and all the teams can start moving around the building and solving puzzles.
The puzzles themselves start easy and progressively get harder and harder. By the time you reach the end the puzzles are insanely hard to the point where it’s not immediately clear what you even have to do. It’s not unfair though, these puzzles are extremely well written and reward the player for really paying attention to everything thats going on as well as thinking outside the box a little. You really have to be on your toes with these games so staying alert and working fast is paramount to succeeding and if you werent paying attention at all time then it may as well spell certain doom for your party.
Once the 60 minutes is up all the teams are taken into another room where the actors come back on stage and play out the final part of the story as well as give the solutions for the puzzles. This is the most grueling part because once you hear the answers you end up kicking yourself really hard for missing something or even forgetting something that you made a mental note of at the start, but that’s part of the fun. So let’s put into perspective just how challenging these escape games are. Of the 30 or so groups that took part in the event, only 3 managed to clear all the puzzles and escape. The rest of us were left behind in the debriefing room to get “killed” by a Tyrant.
Following the event the park offers Biohazard themed meals and drinks at one of the resturants in the park. While it’s a little expensive I of course had to go and eat that stuff so I made my way down the the resturant and ordered and Umbrella Mission Plate
and a Plant42 Alpha
All in all it was a super fun day out and it’s the sort of experience that really sticks with you. The Biohazard event was also nice in the way that it came with and English language option but if you live in Japan/are thinking of coming and want to try, be warned that you level of Japanese better be pretty good in order to fully enjoy these games or you may be floundering around at the start not knowing what to do.
I’m not sure if something similar exists in the west but if it does I would highly recommend that you check them out.
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