Attack on Titan is a worldwide phenomenon and if you’re seeking evidence of that fact, you need only look to the New York Times Best Seller list. While there have been some recent upsets by Naruto and Monster Musume, one thing remains consistent — you’ll always find Attack on Titan somewhere within the top ten.
The manga, which has been available since 2012, is still going strong and there seems to be a full-on craze. Even websites and magazines that typically cover music are getting in on the action. With so much success, it only makes sense that the people behind it would want to capitalize that popularity. And what better way than to have a string of events tour around the world?
Enter SCRAP, a company who has taken numerous properties as well as their own original ideas and turned them into something fun that serves to encourage teamwork and cooperation by focusing on solving puzzles to complete a goal — usually making an escape.
Escape From the Walled City isn’t the first event they’ve put on but it is the first time we’ve had it here in the United States. The event which was originally held throughout Japan before moving across the world on tour is now here, and thanks to SCRAP, I had the chance to attend to see what all the hype is about.
As you might expect from the website and their previous work, Escape From the Walled City is an alternate reality game that will test your ability to solve puzzles. The entire game revolves around the premise of completing several smaller puzzles to achieve a larger overall goal. It might sound easy, but the puzzles of the Escape From the Walled City US Tour are nothing to scoff at.
I’ve never been good at puzzles and I knew going into this event that I’d have absolutely no hope of making it out alive. One thing I didn’t know though was just how difficult the puzzles would actually turn out to be. If you’ve participated in games put together by SCRAP before, you probably know what to expect — but as a first timer, I found myself in way over my head.
First of all, it’s recommended by the materials provided by SCRAP that you form a party with somewhere between 3-6 people. Instead, I opted for a party of two and that may have been a poor decision on my part. This is because clues were found scattered across the stadium (Weingart Stadium at East Los Angeles College in my case) but also because the more people you have in your party, the more likely you are to complete the challenge.
It proved very difficult both for myself and my plus one. In fact, difficult enough that we spent half of the allotted hour length trying unsuccessfully to figure out the answer to the first question — an effort that would prove futile.
Thankfully though, for the people who are bad at puzzles like me, they did open up some staff to help people out with hints. This was a big help for me since I forgot my glasses and couldn’t see the hints on the screen for the life of me — quite literally in this case.
It was at this point that I realized the clues aren’t all that difficult, if you know what you’re doing. This is where being a first-timer comes in, because solving these clues without prior knowledge of previous events by SCRAP will prove to be extremely difficult.
Still, even with the help, I couldn’t make it out alive. This is because there were a total of three areas with different clues. I only made it through one of them, getting stuck on the second before ultimately meeting my fate at the the mouth of a titan.
I’d like to talk a bit about what kind of puzzles were involved, but one of the rules for the game is that sharing clues isn’t allowed. My only guess as to their reason for this would be that they are being reused for the duration of the tour, which is reasonable. I did take some photos during my escape attempt, but since I can’t share them I will attempt to describe some of the clues.
There were a number of lettered clues, ranging from A to G, with some letters having multiple clues denoted by their letter and a fraction. For example, there were two clues listed under a which had to be combined in order to reveal the answer for that letter. Combining the answer for every letter would give you a word to be used as a password that would gain you entry to the next stage and unlock more clues.
It seems like a fairly straightforward process, but before I spoke with the staff at the help center I had no idea what any of it meant. Maybe it’s because I’m bad at puzzles or maybe they’re just that difficult. It’s hard to say, but what I do know based upon our conversation is that experience with previous games and events will help you. If you don’t have any, your next best course of action is to form a large team, ask other people for hints, or wait for the help center to open up like I did.
It’s a long and grueling process that is sure to rack your brain, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still have fun if you can’t solve the clues and work your way to the exit. It was a hot day in LA and I came home sunburned but the Escape From the Walled City Tour was worth the trip. I talked to other journalists and enthusiasts of the series, which goes to show that even if you’re not the best suited to solving puzzles you can still have a great time.
I might not have made it out alive, but I gained experience both in covering events and participating in a Real Escape Game and I had a lot of fun doing it. The Escape From The Walled City Tour might be a difficult challenge, but it’s a great way to meet fans of the series you love and have fun with your friends. If that’s not worth your $35, I don’t know what is.
Now if only they could take a cue from conventions and music festivals and offer up some merchandise from the franchise and their sponsors. Then the experience would truly be complete.Tweet