Date completed: Jan 2016 (2 players). Succeded escaping (with extra time).
Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 7.5; Atmosphere: 5; Fun: 7
- Fluent English, Cantonese or Mandarin
- 2-10 players
- 45 minute room
Centuries ago, an Italian designer called Castiglione sculpted the statues of 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. They went missing, suspected to be in a palace he formerly lived in, and you have 45 minutes to retrieve the treasures before the bridge is lifted. Sounds like a pretty interesting story, huh?
We have to admit it was very hard to find attractive plots to play in Hong Kong. Lost HK, where we played Castiglione and a few other rooms, was the only one we actually felt like trying. Do you want to know why? Keep reading to find a few examples of things we refused to do 😛
Every place has its particularities, its culture and its way of thinking. We actually enjoy experiencing those differences in our travels and, of course, checking how local elements appear into puzzles. We were very excited about this trip to Hong Kong and decided to try local escape rooms.
Trapspringer grew up there and he always told me that Hong Kong people are extremely hard-working and entrepreneurial, but creativity is not a common or high-valued trait over there – something readily acknowledged by the city’s educators. It kinda shows in the plot synopsis of many of Hong Kong escape rooms. We found the following plots, which varied from the utterly boring to a complete lack of taste and sense:
- You don’t want to attend classes and have one hour to escape from school. (yawn?)
- It’s your birthday and you are locked in your room. Don´t be late for your own party! (yawn….)
- Steal the instant noodle recipe from a competitor’s company. (yawn!)
- You were sexually abused by your boss and have to find proof against him in the office (WHAT???? WHO EVEN THINKS THIS SHOULD BE A GAME?!?!?!?)
And I’m not even complaining about all the copy/paste in artworks and ads… Anyhow, let’s talk about a good one! We found Lost HK, they had good reviews in Trip Advisor and we gave it a go. We played Castiglione first, because the plot seemed more likely to those we are used to dealing in Australia.
Or so we thought.
The puzzles are extremely varied in this room, and we give a thumbs up for the gamemasters who developed puzzles and riddles that work both in English and in Chinese. But the difficulty rises when you realize there is no paper to take note of anything, and there are long sequences to remember and some math that requires a lot of attention. I felt that while in most rooms I only use my brain’s ‘flash memory’ and ‘RAM’, this one put the entire hard disk running. It was also especially hard for me not being able to write, because I normally count or list things in my mind in Portuguese (my native language). Here I was dealing with the English translation of things that were better dealt in Chinese. Focus was the word of the day, I tell you.
Be prepared for riddles, thorough searching, arithmetic, patterns and some creative use of high technology well mixed in a classical setting. If you are an experienced player, you will have no problem finding the statues. The hard part is trying to get out of the room after you find them! We blew up the original time (due to failing a proper search in some areas), but as we were advancing, the gamemaster let us continue.
The decoration in Castiglione is pretty nice and the Chinese zodiac theme is well used. The props add to the setting and the use of multiple types of technology makes a lot of stuff run smoothly, giving it a ‘magical’ feel. The torches were not very good though and we had to have them replaced twice, but this was done quickly enough. The lighting is quite dark and you will need all light sources, even the little flames. ;D
Castiglione is a large multi-room escape, way bigger than a normal Australian Escape Hunt room, for example. This was surprising for Trapspringer given the price of real estate in Hong Kong. I really wonder how many people can finish it under 45 minutes, and if locals do, would they as quick when playing overseas?
Lost also has franchises in Canada, Singapore, and Vietnam. Castiglione is also available in Singapore (Lost SG).
Out of the room
Service: I don’t know how Lost HK does it but our Gamemaster was somehow able to juggle running three different rooms by herself simultaneously but still keep track of where we were, offering specific hints only when we asked. She was pretty professional and was very quick to respond to questions.
Communication: Communication with the Gamemaster was through an intercom on the wall. She talked to us both in English and in Cantonese.
Surroundings: Lost HK is located in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong island. It’s a fashion shopping paradise if you are into that sort of thing. Prada, Uniqlo, Chanel, Burberry, Zara, Forever 21, you name it. It is also located near Times Square and it’s ‘Food Forum’, which has some of the best restaurants. Every floor has a different type of cuisine! Conveniently, Times Square also has its own subway station exit.