Remember those detective games you used to play as kid? Some of my favourite memories are of the afternoons my brother and sister and me spent playing our own version of “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”
A couple of weeks ago, my friend sent me a link to an event being run by A Door In A Wall – an organisation that promises to take you beyond Murder Mysteries into something more adventurous. They organise all sorts of interactive games across the UK. I didn't need to read much to be convinced. So we booked tickets for the first available Sunday we could get.
On the day, we turned up to All Saints station at 6pm and found the offices of “Alder and Alder”. We were greeted at the door by a very sombre man in formal attire who informed us of the events for the reading of Paul's will. We were all given a booklet and asked to read through and wait for further instructions while thinking of a team name.
The premise of the game was to solve the mystery of Paul Marrane's death. The man was found in suspicious circumstances.
"The flurry of activity that followed the sudden demise of a perfect stranger was unexpected. There seemed no suggestion of foul play and he had no apparent close friends or family. Even his colleagues were not entirely certain what he did. But from the moment he collapsed on the floor of the bank, Professor Paul Marrane attracted the attention of some powerful figures".
Once all the teams had assembled we were given our instructions and quickly registered our team name and affiliated ourselves with an allegiance. The choices were: Knowledge, Wealth, Enlightenment and Security. Our choice – Knowledge.
We were sent to our first location to find our first clue and from there we were given a map with four main locations and the locations of additional “elements” that we could collect for a better chance of piecing together the information at the end to form our conclusion and answer the questions. We were encouraged to take photos of the clues and anything we thought may help us while assembling all of the information at the end of the game.
The locations were concentrated mainly around Chrisp Street market at Poplar. The organisers had been particularly clever with the locations utilising landmarks and office buildings in the area. A few of them were inside shops and businesses, including a second hand shop which was closed to the general public but open for “special training”. Inside, we had to locate specific items to put together a clue.
Another clue was on the fifth level of the clock tower and once we reached the level there was a pair of binoculars and the clue was pasted inside the windows of a high rise building on the other side of the square. One of the clues was on a touch screen located right outside the tube station, with dedicated information for the competing teams.
At most of the main meeting points we coincided with another team and took part in some form of activity before being passed the information or the clue. One of the best locations was in a really run down looking building, through the back entrance and down some rickety looking stairs into a basement. A man and woman in 1930's army attire greeted us and we were ushered into the back room where a general explained a situation involving an attack at an awards ceremony.
We were each designated roles and had to act out the scenario with the threat of an imminent attack. We failed to protect the royal family in that one but in the next room we took part in a strategic map game on a large table, playing as one large team against the female officer.
At one point we had to wait outside a phone box which would ring on the hour and at 30 minutes past the hour. When the phone call came, we were directed to look on the outside of the phone booth for another phone number which we were each to call on our cell phones. We were then transferred to a conference call and communicated with someone in a secret location who could clearly see us and was giving us directions. He instructed us to do a number of ridiculous activities inside the market square, sprinting into the middle and hugging the pillars, getting down low suddenly and pretending we were tying our shoe laces and pretending one of us had broken our leg and the other team mates had to carry that person to safety.
The organisation of the event was so well choreographed and set up and every location so well styled and decorated and the actors at each location really threw themselves into the roles they were playing which made the atmosphere so much more exciting. We were all really impressed. By the time we arrived back at the main office to piece together our information it was about 9.30 and we were really exhausted. I won't tell you the ending but it was a big surprise.
I highly recommend the event. There may still be slots available for The Life and Death of Paul Marrane but if not, there will be other games coming soon from A Door In A Wall. If you do manage to get a spot here are some tips:
- Having a team of four people seemed to be the ideal size. You weren't allowed to split up and I think having any more than four would slow down the team as you have to run to some far off locations.
- Wear sports shoes as you'll be on your feet for a few hours.
- Take some snacks that you can easily eat between missions and something to drink with you.
- Be creative when thinking of your team name - prizes are awarded at the end.