We came at sundown. As we entered the room, a man locked the door, and the countdown commenced. We would have one hour to escape using only our wits, each other, and the objects in the room...
This script is surely familiar to those who have experienced an escape room elsewhere. However, Harry Theme Room, near Confucius Temple, offers challenges unlike any you may have faced before.
These challenges are not evident at first glance, as the escape rooms appear to follow a standard pattern. Each room offers a themed space, such as an artist’s studio or graveyard, with the goal being to escape the space in one hour. At the desk, a guide shows off the different available rooms and their rankings in four different areas: intensity, difficulty, scare factor, and technology use. While most rooms stay below five on the rankings, one room earns seven stars in each field. Note that a one hour challenge costs ¥100 per person, so come prepared!
The escape rooms offered at Harry are puzzles with a Chinese twist. While language is not a major factor in most challenges, especially if you bring along a handy translator in your group (or even an app), the puzzles are designed by Chinese creators for Chinese puzzle-solvers, creating an extra layer of challenge for us crazy foreigners. In order to succeed, you must think - Chinese-style!
We pick up many aspects of Chinese life living here as expats, but there are few times where using this accumulated knowledge is so explicitly rewarding. One puzzle here utilizes knowledge of Chinese Chess, and another becomes easier if you know a bit of Chinese history. In cases like this, players are rewarded for delving deep into their Chinese experience. After solving one of these puzzles, a sense of accomplishment surfaces that leaves you grinning ear-to-ear.
Do not expect to escape easily on a first attempt! Facing off with secret codes, hidden passageways, and lasers can be a challenge, even without the added Chinese context. But then, where else would you want to spend your weekend?
Harry Theme Room is located at 78 Changle Lu 长乐路78号. Tel: 84862717.