Encounter: The Hospital [Review]

encounterlogoLocation: Encounter, Geylang Rd, Singapore

Date completed:  September 2016 (2 players). Succeeded escaping!

Creativity: 8; Difficulty: 5.5; Atmosphere: 9.5; Fun: 9.5.

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • 2-8 players (we recommend 2-4)

The Hospital takes place after the events from The Apartment, where the Fong family vanished from the face of the Earth. Having experienced the supernatural horrors involved with their disappearance, the investigation continues in an abandoned hospital, where we had one hour to delve into this claustrophobic setting to investigate the mystery.

The Apartment was the most thrilling and engaging game we played in our first trip to Singapore. We could not leave without finding out more. We needed to enter The Hospital.

Before we being our review, it must be said that The Hospital is a direct sequel to The Apartment. The events and story from that previous game are directly relevant and sometimes intertwined with the strange occurrences in The Hospital. As a recommendation, the two escape rooms should be played in sequence. It is also our view that players would get a more complete experience if the rooms were played within a short span of time.

Two days after we investigated the strange occurrences at the Fong residence in The Apartment, we found ourselves in a dark, claustrophobic hospital that looked and even smelled like the real thing. Abandoned hospitals are inherently creepy right? So is this one. The folks at Encounter did a sterling job with this sequel in creating an oppressive ward that felt sinister.

In contrast with The Apartment, the start of the hospital was not immediately unnerving and took time to build up. We were initially introduced to a cold and sterile environment which was dark and quiet. You also find out a lot of information about the fate of the Fong family – things you will be discussing for hours after you leave the precint. By mid-game, however, the level of horror escalates and the story truly develops. Although the effects are not obviously gory, they are less subtle this time around with a more confronting revelation.

Pa was largely unaffected by the first portion of the game, but some of the imagery midway through affected her enough to not want to be alone in a room. The increasing tension built up to a very convincing movie effect at one point.

We should point out, furthermore, that the claustrophobic setting of The Hospital does not suit larger teams. There is enough physical space for eight people but I can’t see that working out too well for spacing. In our game, Pa barely got to see the key horror effect I mentioned above and we only had two players. This is a drawback to what was otherwise a well executed set piece.

b7e028_ef2e0deaad2646e281eebf53d0c9c1baWhen viewed independently from the effects of the scary atmosphere, the puzzles in The Hospital were not overly difficult and involved association and some very basic math. It was definitely less task oriented than The Apartment and required more observation. The flow of the game was also very linear. The puzzles were nevertheless tied to the narrative to deliver a suspenseful experience and the ability of players to cope with fear will again greatly influence how difficult they find the game.

One interesting element of The Hospital was how there were many pieces of information that had to do with the wider story but were not essential to gameplay. We really enjoyed this component of the game as it focused us in investigating circumstances rather than just escaping. In one instance, a piece of information even ties to a third game from Encounter, The Boutique.

Without spoiling anything, it was also the first time we had seen a sequel escape room use elements from the previous ‘episode’ directly. In this case, what we previously considered to be a red herring in The Apartment turned out to be directly relevant in a key point in The Hospital. This was a novel approach and something we would definitely like to see included into other narrative driven escape rooms!

Overall, The Hospital is less of an Asian horror movie and more like Stranger Things (except the Hospital has been around since at least 2015). If you enjoyed that Netflix series, the combined Apartment and Hospital experience is perfect for you.

Out of the room

Service: Encounter has lockers for player’s belongings and the gamemaster was very responsive to communication.

Interestingly, the gamemaster informed us after the game that the owner of Encounter is happy to discuss and explain the story through email to customers for a complete closure. Although we had largely understood the overall story, we see this as an excellent feature particularly for larger groups in which players might miss out on small parts of the story.

Communication: Hints were unlimited, given through a telephone in the hospital ward. This fit the setting perfectly and gamemaster was on the ball, monitoring our progress carefully and offering hints when needed.

Surroundings: The closest subway station to this branch of Encounter is Aljunied, which is about 550m away on foot. It was pretty straightforward to get to.

The Hospital has also been reviewed by Escaping.sg and S-capegoats.

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