Are you a bit of a Sherlock buff who enjoys a good mystery? A gamer who knows their way around puzzles, dungeons, and adventure? That one person in the movie theater who shouts commands at the on-screen characters even though you know that poor little blonde girl is going to go up the stairs and get killed anyway?
Think you could do better?
Guys, I will be the first to tell you that I am not smart about a lot of things. First law of thermodynamics? No effin’ clue. You expect me to do well on a pub quiz? That’s a funny joke. Searching to make sure your potentially missing roommate is alive using their Facebook posts – I never even thought about doing that!!
But escape rooms are the thing that I have been training for my entire life through copious amounts of Dungeons and Dragons, board games, video games, and just in general, being a television and movie junkie. So when I found out that there was an escape room in Hoi An, I was stoked. Finally, it was time for me to put all of those useless skills to work, and prove that, hey – I could be smart.
I rolled up to the room with my gang of pals – five of us in total – to a very pleasant looking house. The courtyard was set up to receive us, and we were all given a glass of passion fruit juice (yum) and a Vietnamese sweet pancake covered in jam. As we spoke, part-owner and designer, Chris Love, gave us the lowdown on the locks, general rules about the game, the house and objects inside.
This is pretty important, so you should pay attention. Guidelines like this help keep you safe and give you important information critical to solving the mystery. So do NOT get distracted like I did. Just… don’t do it, okay? Otherwise they’ll make rules about you, like they did for me
Then we get to the mystery aspect of it, and as a fiction writer, I LOVE a good mystery. A young tourist girl from China, Elie, disappeared into this home, where the man who lives there has… gone a bit off the deep end after losing his wife and child in a terrible accident. Since then, he’s been seen around the house holding mannequins that resemble his lost loved ones. We know Elie has gone into this house and hasn’t been seen since. We also know the owner, Phuc, is gone for the next hour, and we have to get in, get Elie out, and escape, before Phuc comes home to murder us all.
Scary, right? Well – it gets better. The inside of the room is dimly lit, with copious amounts of fog, and hundreds of little things to interact with. I think our group spent forty minutes in the first room, and I have never had so much fun! Periodically there would be loud bangs that would come out of nowhere that would cause me to jump in terror, and then laugh outrageously.
The puzzles were intense, but insanely gratifying when we finally figured it out! We tore the rooms apart trying to solve riddles, figure out the codes and combination locks, and even then, we left several stones unturned! I have never had more fun screaming and shouting with my friends, all of us jumping up and down with excitement as we tried to figure out the last few puzzles to victory as our timer slowly ran down.
Ultimately, we lost (although I went back later to do it again, and climbed to victory on the backs of my new and much more capable teammates), but I have never had more fun losing a game than with that. In a time when ninety percent of my human interaction comes through Facebook messages, this was an incredible hour to spend with my friends. We were forced to leave our cellphones outside, so we had to talk, interact, and communicate with each other to achieve our goals! It was the most fun I have had in a long time.
I highly recommend Escape iQ in Hoi An. Unlike other escape rooms that use clues and storylines from a preordered kit, every aspect of this mystery came from the owners’ own minds, the set from their own imaginations, and the puzzles designed through hours of painstaking work to make something that will make you utilize every minute of time that you have in there, if you want to win.
Also – don’t harass any of the actors. This rule didn’t exist before my group and I went in, but it certainly existed afterward. Which, in my humble opinion, is a GREAT way of being remembered (while simultaneously feeling bad for the girl my group and I descended upon like a flock of geese on a toddler with a bag of breadcrumbs).
In any case, if you are travelling to Da Nang or Hoi An anytime soon, make your reservations at Escape iQ and bring your friends. You won’t regret it. Especially as it is also air conditioned inside, to help you escape those particularly hot afternoons in Hoi An.