At times, like a scene out of ‘National Treasure’
Team up with your friend and colleague, Detective Huntley and race across London on a hunt for stolen artefacts. All the while, solving a trail of cunning puzzles that have been left.
As the period of pandemic lockdown continues, Gord and I are constantly discovering new options for play at home games. We came across QuestVenture and A Hunt Across the Capital when the developer needed some experienced players to give the game a try and provide some feedback prior to general release. Enter Review the Room.
As we play more and more of these virtual “escape” experiences, one thing has become clear: not all games are created equal; the concepts we have come across have varied widely from one game to the next, the puzzle types are possibly even more varied than those we come across in live escape rooms, and the execution of all of these has ranged in quality anywhere from mind-blowingly good to shockingly awful, but QuestVenture and A Hunt Across the Capital showed promise right from the beginning. The game is a passion project, and William, the developer, doesn’t own a traditional escape room, but the website is professional, and totally user friendly; always an excellent start.
As it turns out, the game was just as slick as the website. Even at points where we struggled, we found later that the information we needed was there, we just had to look a little deeper.
A Hunt Across the Capital is essentially an internet scavenger hunt, with a few extra files with puzzles that you download prior to the game, discovering the passwords to unlock them as you go. We’ve played a few games that were either entirely internet scavenger hunts, or incorporated this element into parts of the game, but the execution of A Hunt Across the Capital was on another level. The incorporation of the mobile phone and the text messages to progress were something we have yet to come across elsewhere, and this worked seamlessly, giving us the impression that we were interacting with a real ‘agent’.
The website currently advises that total gameplay should be in the region of 90 minutes, although if you would prefer a more leisurely pace, this can be split into different sittings over the course of a week. We opted to play in one sitting as 90 minutes isn’t really that long… It turns out we’re masochists since it actually took us about double that, finishing after roughly three hours. Had we taken a break or two, some elements may have been easier, as we would have been seeing them with fresh eyes.
Surprisingly, for a game that is in its essence, a scavenger hunt, A Hunt Across the Capital wasn’t a constant following of cryptic directions around Google Maps; I mean, there was some of that, but that wasn’t all of it. The game led us all over the internet, and kept us guessing with a few tricky, but fair, puzzles. Elements of the cryptic clues for the scavenger hunt portions had us feeling almost like Nicholas Cage and his team as they followed the clues on the back of the Declaration of Independence in the film National Treasure.
When we weren’t following cryptic clues around the city, we found ourselves solving puzzles that wouldn’t feel out of place in a physical escape room. We particularly enjoyed the first puzzle, it was just cryptic enough to slow us down but once we worked it out there was a lovely ‘ah ha!’ moment.
Thankfully there is a clue system in place in A Hunt Across the Capital; a necessity as some of the clues are really rather cryptic. By texting HINT to your contact, you will receive some assistance with whatever you’re struggling on. Repeated requests for hints on the same puzzle will reveal slightly more information, up to a point – but if you still can’t solve the puzzle, there is an option to SKIP.
We actually played this game prior to the official release, partly in exchange for our feedback. I wasn’t a massive fan of the SKIP option as it felt a bit like a cop-out, and I would have preferred to be given the solution after a fashion so that I could reverse engineer the puzzle to see where I went wrong, rather than giving up entirely. After some discussion with the developer, the clue system will likely be changed to reflect this feedback, but either way, at least there is a way to move on if you’re very stuck.
This game was a perfect balance between online treasure hunt and escape room. The experience was slick, well thought-out, and with puzzles that had varying levels of difficulty. Refreshing to see something different.
- UK registered (+44) mobile phone with SMS capabilities
- Laptop or Desktop computer
- Internet connection
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 3 hours (very much an off day for us)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.