You and your co-workers are brought out into a room with a TV. A moderator switches on the screen and an image of your boss appears, held hostage in an unknown location. Your mission: save him.
Of course, it’s just a game. Live adventure has seen a marked increase in popularity lately. While Ubiquest stands apart for its uniquely immersive concept, quality escape room games like Lost HCMC Station have been popping up in shopping centres all over the city. Here’s a look at what’s on offer:
Patricia Lo, director of the Vietnam branch of this highly successful escape game, has developed quite a treat for puzzle-lovers and roleplayers.
Lost HCMC Station is the best among the rising number of escape games, thanks to sizeable investment, clever puzzles, genuine teamwork-based solutions, high production values and enthusiastic gamemasters. Originating in Hong Kong, the game’s success allowed it to spread to Singapore, Taiwan, Canada and several other countries.
It may be a bit hard to find on VivoCity’s third floor. When you see Wall Street English at one end of the floor, head right to a further corner to locate Lost.
During our trial, a team of six from #iAMHCMC chose to enter Exodus, the most difficult of the rooms, where we played the role of slaves escaping the harsh conditions of Egyptian rule.
The puzzles started off simple, then quickly progressed to challenging levels. The room was very well-designed: noise and touch sensors, automatic doors, lasers and hidden ceiling compartments all made the game quite immersive, integrating the puzzles into the story seamlessly. As far as team-building goes, this is a great way to go about testing cooperation, logic and problem-solving skills – managers take note.
The themed puzzles involved various elements of ancient Egypt and the Hebrew language, period-specific artefacts, hieroglyphics and, at one point, shouting a chant for a full 30 seconds. There were both English and Vietnamese language instructions and riddles, so our multinational team was able to coordinate smoothly. If there is one escape game to try in Saigon, it’s Lost HCMC Station.
The only live adventure game in Ho Chi Minh City that does not adhere to the “escape” concept, Ubiquest is a large-scale, cinematic experience for corporate clients looking to engage 100-200 employees in real-world action.
From exploring the 1960s-era tunnels underneath the Reunification Palace to cruising on speedboats, this is an experience like no other. Founder Nicolas Plesse plays the gamemaster for all corporate events, guiding co-workers on one of 15 professionally organised adventures.
One of the more popular games is CSI. Employees go out on a murder investigation, finding drugs in rooms, coordinating chauffeured cars, piecing together evidence and identifying the killer. Players also have to be ready to show off their interrogation skills, as CSI and similar Ubiquest games involve confronting live witnesses.
Another corporate favourite is Saigon Quest, where physical and logical skills are put to the test in order to find the location of an electronic safe. The adventure includes everything from eating scorpions to a market race and wall climbing.
A great side benefit of these games is that teamworking, management and other professional abilities can be evaluated by Nicolas and his team, and the results later relayed to the executives.
Let Me Out
Lottemart Phu Tho, 968 Street 3|2 (corner of Le Dai Hanh and Ba Thang Hai), D11 | letmeout.vn | +84 93 231 2712
A good 25 minutes from the city centre, Let Me Out is housed in a District 11 Lottemart. Although only three rooms are offered, Let Me Out’s strength is atmosphere. It does its themes justice in rooms like Tunnel Escape, where your team (a group of miners) is trapped underground with no food or water, with oxygen quickly running out.
You enter a blood-splattered space with limbs strewn about; a deranged psychopath has kidnapped you have 45 minutes to find a way out before his return. From carrying around sacks of dead bodies to listening to eerie recordings, the room embraces its concept well. It does rely a bit too much on finding combinations for locks, but otherwise this is a fun escape game.