SINGAPORE - Being locked in a room and having to solve puzzles to escape is no easy feat.
But having to escape from a locked jail cell modelled after the infamous Alcatraz Island prison in the United States - now that's a challenge.
Lost SG, which opened at Peace Centre in November last year, is the latest addition to the increasing number of escape rooms here.
It is an "improved" and "updated" version of one of the top-rated escape rooms in Hong Kong, according to one of the founders David Chong, 27.
The former senior marketing director told AsiaOne that he and his two friends, Mr John Tan, 27 and Mr Ivan Loo, 27, travelled to Hong Kong and Beijing on a research tour of real-life escape games.
While most escape rooms depend on a traditional lock-and-key concept to advance in the game, Lost SG banks on automation and simulation technology, which Mr Chong claims gives them an edge over other escape rooms in Singapore.
"Our rooms have no manual intervention, meaning there is no one controlling from behind and everything is automated," he said.
Lost SG features five rooms based on real-life events and places, such as Alcatraz in California, Japan's suicide forest Aokigahara, Castglione, based on China's missing zodiac statues created by Giuseppe Castglione, the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and Isometrick, which is based on Professor Rubik, inventor of the Rubik's Cube.
All rooms were designed give an immersive experience, with ambient lighting, props and sound effects.
AsiaOne checks out three rooms at Lost SG:
Our gamemaster wasted no time in getting us started once she led us to our room and we started off rather abruptly.
We immediately got down to solving the first problem, which was to unlock a treasure chest, one of many contraptions set up around the small space we were locked in.
The room was set up according to the story of The Exodus, taking participants way back in time to the founding myth of Israel. The puzzles we had to solve were closely related to the story plot of when Israelites in Egypt were oppressed and enslaved.
As we went on solving puzzle after puzzle, we were in awe of the technology incorporated within the game that gave it a high-tech buzz. The lights and sound effects were particularly impressive.
Although innovative, some of the devices did not respond as quickly as we would have liked.
However, the team did enjoy searching every nook and cranny for well-hidden clues all over the room to unlock combinations. It was also fun to make use of things like UV flashlights to hunt for clues.
As it was the first time for all of us taking part in the game, it would have been nice if we were given a more thorough introduction or had our suspense built up by the gamemaster when we were led to our room.
The video that we were made to watch before entering the Exodus room was also a little underwhelming since we had to watch from a small tablet. However, Lost SG has since installed a 32-inch LED TV so that participants are able to view the introduction better.
Even though we took longer than the one hour time limit, the team had a really swell time and the story plot was nicely supported with special effects that made the whole experience memorable for everyone.
Our tip: Symbols are part of our daily lives, some attention should be paid to them.
AsiaOne rates this: 4/5
For this room, we were also given a very prompt start with minimal instructions.
Our objective was to work our way out of a room that was decorated to look like Aokigahara, a forest near Japan's Mount Fuji that is notorious for suicides.
This room was particularly challenging as the first puzzle we had to solve was already a struggle for us.
Similar to the other rooms, the clues here were also dispersed throughout the entire area, albeit a tad too random, which frustrated us a little. There wasn't much of a storyline too and no real characters or events to base clues on, so we were pretty much left to our own devices.
What made everything more fun and different from the other rooms were the instances in which we had to crawl or climb to get to our next puzzle.
Again, there was a slight technical glitch towards the end of the game, which left us stranded for a long time. We might have been able to move on to the next stage if we had fiddled with the mechanisms a bit more.
Our tip: Make sure your stars align properly. Also, skirts are not advisable for the ladies, as some climbing and crawling is needed.
AsiaOne rates this: 3/5
Compared to the other rooms that we tried, Alcatraz does a good job in building suspense even before participants enter the room.
We started off blindfolded, not knowing what we were getting into or where we were going.
After we were led to our room by the gamemaster and told to remove our blindfolds, we realised that we were all behind bars, of course, with nothing in our cell except for a bench, a locked box and some props.
While the clues were not too difficult to solve, it did however, require a basic level of arithmetic skills for certain puzzles. It also required a large amount of teamwork, which is great for corporate team bonding sessions.
The storyline, based on the 1962 escape attempt by three American criminals, was tight and puzzles well-designed.
While we were initially impressed by the use of technology in Alcatraz and how it helped to move the game along, we left feeling slightly let down again by one of the mechanisms which, although had worked, it did not give us an obvious prompt to tell us that we could proceed to the next stage. If we had paid more attention, we might have been able to save a lot of time.
We then learnt that besides using your brains, you also had to use your ears to listen for slight click sounds or hints.
Our tip: Remember, no man is an island.
AsiaOne rates this: 4/5
Lost SG is at Peace Centre, 1 Sophia Road, #03-01/02/03, Singapore 228149. Operating hours are Sun to Thurs: 11am – 11pm, and Fri and Sat: 11am – 1am. Prices start from $20.90 during off-peak hours. Visit http://lost.sg/