Samui Wining & Dining
What it Takes
Have you got what it takes to save the world at Escapology?

What it Takes

Thirty year ago, computers games turned the world upside down. And as the years went on the games became more complex, more fantastical and more diverse, as better and faster components came on the scene. Immensely complex games emerged, every one involving a challenge of some sort, with objectives to achieve, initiatives to take, and problems to solve. The graphics and simulations were so realistic and compelling that it was just like really being there.

          

Now it’s all changed. Yes, of course, these games still exist and are as popular as ever. But now people are starting to play real games, in real rooms, with real teams of people and real puzzles to solve in real time. And this quaint, old-fashioned idea, from back in the days when people sat around in their parlours, before television was even thought of, is taking the world by storm.

          

Actually, it’s not as odd as it sounds. Some of you may recall the game Cluedo, which may perhaps have been the forerunner of the genre. And, interestingly, the first recorded example of today’s ‘adventure room’ game idea happened way back in the early ’90s, at a one-week symposium held in California’s Silicon Valley, which was not only based on Cluedo but also added-in Agatha Christie’s crime novels and their characters.

          

Today the adventure-room game setting is back with a vengeance. And now it involves a bunch of people (you!) really being inside a series of locked rooms, and having to use your wits and powers of analysis and deduction to unlock each door and progress to the next room, in order to go on and achieve your set objective. In less than two years, this style of game has erupted all over the globe and is still spreading like wildfire. And you can now get to play it here on Samui, at Beach Republic in Lamai.

What it Takes

It’s rare that anyone’s been able to say that Samui is in any way some kind of world-leading trendsetter! But make a note of the date – October 2014. This was when local resident, entrepreneur, and owner of Beach Republic, Tim Dean-Smith, opened ‘Escapology’ at his venue in Lamai. And to appreciate exactly why it’s ‘groundbreaking’, you need to be aware of a couple of things.

          

Firstly, as I said, it’s only in the last couple of years that this trend has exploded onto the scene. And like all successful and popular ideas today, pioneering companies such as ‘Adventure Rooms’ and Bangkok’s own ‘Escape Hunt’ have wrapped the whole thing up in a package and presented prospective investors with a ready-made franchise – everything you need, including staff-training, ready-torun, but with the downside being the same plots and stories are franchised everywhere. Secondly, the usual format is that players get one hour to escape. Or not! And it’s worth noting that only three teams out of every ten manage to escape within the set time-period with Adventure Rooms.

          

Keep all of this in mind for a moment while I introduce the name, Josh Gould. Josh worked for some time at Beach Republic a little while back, before heading off to Bangkok. He was intrigued by Escape Hunt, found himself a job there, and discovered that he had an instinctive talent for thinking up new game themes, and the puzzles and clues to go with them. Josh wrote his first two original adventure room scripts and took them to Tim at Beach Republic. The end result was the formation of the company ’Escapology’, with plans to promote franchises throughout the USA (with the first American branch already open in Orlando), and to expand into the Asian market, with a Bangkok outlet on the cards as you read this.

What it Takes

And the other significant factor? Josh has a kind heart! Everyone gets to escape from his rooms, even if they have to appeal to the Game Masters for a bit of help along the way! (And, in addition, he’s already working on two totally new and unique scenarios for Escapology, to be premiered here, later this year.)

          

Escapology at Beach Republic is an absolute must, whether you live here, you’re here for a wedding (with the stags versus the hens) or you’re looking for something really exciting for a party – or just for sheer fun! There are two sets of rooms, each on a different theme, the mission of each being presented to you on a big-screen video as you begin. One (Shanghaied) puts you captive aboard a sailing ship that’s put into port at Koh Samui which is your only chance to get away, and the other (Cuban Crisis) takes you back to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1953, where you need to break into Castro’s inner sanctum and steal his secret documents, in order to avoid a nuclear war.

          

This is all clever stuff! Each scenario has three rooms with padlocked exits. There are also locks on chests, cupboards or drawers. Some need a key to open them. Others need a combination of numbers – one or two even have letter-combination locks. The décor is super and very effectively matched to the time-period it depicts. Even the flooring is different – the rooms on the ‘ship’ have wooden flooring, whereas the ones set in Cuba have Hispanic-type terracotta tiles. Artefacts and props are evocative, like the old Olympus typewriter from the 1950s, or the Victorian books and furniture. In fact, seeing photos of the settings, it looks just like a walkthrough of a computer game – it’s that realistic!.

          

And the game itself? I’d love to tell you about the clues and puzzles, but I can’t! All I’m able to say is that it’s unpredictable - there’s no routine approach, and sometimes clues come from info on a map, or connecting dots and dashes found in a journal with a chart found elsewhere. And it’s non-linear – meaning that sometimes you have to get other rooms open to be able to find clues still locked back where you started.

          

There are two Game Masters following you via closed circuit monitors, and they’ll take pity on you if you’re struggling! One of them, Khun Tat (and she’s also the branch manager here), tells me that the fastest anyone has made it out is currently 36 minutes, but with most folks taking between 45 and 55 minutes to find the exit. (Where you’ll find a free drink waiting for you just around the corner at the beach club . . .)

          

So there it is. A rare Samui first with Escapology. It’s exciting! But I can’t tell you more than I have already – so you’ll just have to go along yourself to see if you’ve ‘got what it takes’!

          

 Rob De Wet


 


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