There’s a thriving scene for escape and puzzle room games. Which makes sense. Why simply sit slumped in a pub with your mates, when you can work, think and occasionally argue together in the name of a common cause? So, on a rainy evening four of us ventured down with sharpened minds to take on the latest iteration of Brighton’s Bewilder Box.
Based above The Hobgoblin, this interactive experience measures if teams of up six people are capable of leading mankind to salvation after an extinction event. Wearing our most heroic expressions we head in for a short video briefing. Here, we learn about the work of the brilliant Dr Benjamin Wilder Sr. In the 80s he formed a disaster recovery plan for humanity, shortly before he mysteriously disappeared, along with all his research. Now we must undergo a series of tests and puzzles to prove our team can make a difference after a global catastrophe. We’re interviewed by Dr Wilder Junior, who is striving to carry on his father’s work. He and security officer Barry give us all responsibilities for the coming test and offer a few helpful tidbits of advice. This assessment thrusts us into a room, where our aptitude for leadership, pure logic and cooperation are all tested to their limits.
At first our performance suggests that humanity should look elsewhere for post-apocalyptical leadership. But after a while we get our thinking caps on. In terms of immersion Bewilder Box is a big hit. Along with an atmospheric industrial drone in the background, the whole environment is immaculately styled, lovingly recreating how 70s and 80s culture thought the future would look.
We’re assisted by DAVE, a virtual presence who is far more helpful than Siri or Cortana. Which is good, because we’re scratching our heads for the first puzzle. Fortunately, our collective genius kicks in and everything quickly starts linking together. The beauty of this experience is both its non-linear progression and wonderfully witty narrative. Clues and props which seem irrelevant after a while eventually give up their significance. Like any decent puzzle, it all fits together perfectly.
Through sheer persistence, strength of character and innate abilities, we succeeded in our quest. This action-packed hour had pitted us against off-beat tasks, mind-twisting challenges and ingenious puzzles. As we’d always hoped, we were four individuals perfectly skilled to ensure mankind’s survival. The question is – are you?
Bewilder Box is at The Hobgoblin, 31 York Place, Brighton BN1 4GU