NEW OUTDOOR ESCAPE GAME IN GENEVA – ANTIDOTE TO A(NOTHER) VIRUS!
by Alexandra Osváth
We’ve been meeting friends outdoors whenever possible as a COVID-19 precaution. But it’s not always easy to find something fun to do, especially as temperatures start to dip, so we really liked the sound of a new outdoor escape game in Geneva!
We loved indoor escape games, so the concept of an outdoor experience in Geneva’s old town was intriguing. My husband and I went with another couple and weren’t sure what to expect – here’s how it went.
When we arrived at La balade de la Treille, more commonly known as the longest bench in Europe, we were met by Abdessamad Chlih, Games Master of Outdoor Escape Games Geneva. He explained how the game worked, and everything we’d need. We were able to play the game in English, but you can also play in French, German and Italian
Outdoor Escape Games was founded in Zurich 6 years ago, and they opened a franchise in Geneva in June 2020 – coinciding with COVID restrictions, of course. To this end, the equipment is disinfected after each use, so we felt quite comfortable.
THE THEME? SAVING THE WORLD FROM A VIRUS!
Our game was called Operation Mindfall, suitable for ages 14 and up, although we found it quite challenging at times! As secret agents of the W.I.S.E. organization, we had 90 minutes to save the world from an impending apocalypse – following clues left by Dr. Hans Bergmann in a race against time to beat the villains at Spider-Tech and find the antidote to their virus.
We were given an iPad and a briefcase filled with clues and tools we’d need to solve the puzzles along the way. The game uses special software with geocaching, so we followed along as if in Google Maps, seeing how close or far we were from the next geocaching location.
Once we’d arrived at each of the 11 locations, we’d tap on the icon on the iPad and receive the instructions for that task. We often had to look around our surroundings for clues and then use tools in the briefcase to help us, from ID cards to special glasses, a blacklight flashlight, and more. Some puzzles were harder than others, and working as a team really paid off. Some of us were more adept than others at certain puzzles, so we all could pitch in.
We were helped by our augmented reality boss at W.I.S.E., sexy Agent Laura Hunt, who wasn’t too sure of our capabilities in the beginning, but I think we managed to prove her wrong.
If we asked for clues for a particular puzzle we’d lose half the experience points, so we tried to figure them out ourselves – only getting stuck two or three times.
We took slightly longer than the allotted 100 minutes to finish the game, but we’d also walked quite leisurely from location to location – if we’d been a bit faster, I think we would have finished on time.
We had a fantastic time and felt like we really bonded over such a creative game, putting our thinking caps on and working together. It was fun seeing our friends’ problem-solving strengths, too.
We can totally see how this would also make a really great corporate team-building activity. (Abdessamad says they also cater to school groups, birthdays and even bachelor and bachelorette parties!) Larger groups can be divided into competing teams, and the software can be programmed so that each group visits the geocaching locations in a different sequence.
Geneva’s old town is the perfect location for the game, as the old world charm really helped set the mood. At first I thought we’d feel a bit silly going around looking for clues, but we quickly immersed ourselves in the game and had a really great time!
Some puzzles were much more challenging or easier than others, which is either a positive or a negative, depending on how you view it. For example, one of our first puzzles was very challenging while the next one was much easier, which was a little confusing in the beginning – but it’s also nice to have a bit of a break after a particularly hard challenge. I do think there was something for everyone in this game.
We thought the game was great value for money, too.
UPCOMING ESCAPE GAMES
If you’ve spent a winter in Geneva, you’ll know about the city’s beloved Escalade celebrations, which are unlikely to take place this year! Abdessamad is working with historian Arnaud Bosch on a new escape game based on the story of the Escalade and the key events that happened in Geneva’s old town on that fateful night in 1602.
In this special Escalade edition, there will be 20 puzzles, 10 for adults and 10 for children to solve. Abdessamad is aiming to have the game ready by December, if not earlier. He’ll also have a Christmas-themed escape game in time for the holiday season. Last December they had 1700 participants in Zurich, so book early!
They also offer an online “Lockdown” escape game murder mystery that you can play virtually with friends.