NEW DELHI: My friends and I suddenly found ourselves in the pre-Independence era, wrongly sentenced and kept in solitary confinement at India’s most terrible prison – Kala Pani.
But one evening, when the jail officers were busy in a meeting, we escaped! This is not a movie plotline or a tale helmed on time travel. This was the theme of a game at The Hidden Hour titled Kala Pani, which I recently played.
After listening to the game rules, my partner and I were chained and locked in different cells, and our race against the clock, (set at 60 minutes), began. Though we had the clues on our cellphones to open each other’s cells, the initial code was a bit tough to decipher. So we asked for help, but after that, managed to crack the rest of the codes and got out.
Then, we got into the control room to acquire the jail map and a set of symbols and numbers to reach the next level. In time, we realised that things we found along (like a bunch of keys) were meant to be carried along. From operating a hand-held metal detector without touching it, adjusting levers to open an underground tunnel to exhausting all our helplines... by the time we exited, we were exhausted but also super elated to have escaped jail! Before us, a kids’ birthday group entered The Treasure Hunt game, and two kids and their moms entered The Last Halloween.
It seems Delhi’s adventure seekers have found their favourite haunt.
‘Escape rooms are for all age groups’
Two friends from Delhi – Ankit Agrawal and Aman Goyal – founded The Hidden Hour in 2016. We chatted with Agrawal about running this interactive game house:
What made you start The Hidden Hour?
We were batchmates at IIM-Calcutta and later worked at American Express. After working for over 10 years, we wanted to start something of our own. We came up with this idea because whenever we planned office outings, it was always about going for a lunch or movie...there were no other options.
Where did you get the idea?
This is a global idea that started in Japan in 2010. Before that, these games were available on smartphones. But we wanted to make these games available offline in India.
Who is your target audience?
It’s a good option for corporate groups. Apart from this, we have school kids, college crowds and families because two to eight people can play a particular game at one time.
How are the games designed?
It takes two-three months to finalise a game – theme, clues and flow – on the paper. All the games are designed by us for which we did a thorough research. We also watch movies and series to get ideas, and I love solving puzzles. When we launch a new game, it takes a few months to streamline it because we have to change a few clues and rules as some things that seem doable on paper are not practically possible.
How many games currently onboard?
We have 10 games in total. Some games are common across all centres, others are available only at particular centres. Noida is our newest and biggest centre. We have four new games here – Welcome to Wonderland, The Last Halloween, Kala Pani and Prison Raid. These are not available at other centres.
How will you rate the games on the basis of difficulty?
The Metro Bomb Diffusal is the easiest and Magic Show – The Treasure Hunt is the most challenging.
After getting such a good response, we plan to open another centre in Delhi in next five-six months.
Where: MGF Metropolis Mall, Gurgaon