The Clue Club, an escape conundrum waiting to be unraveled

BEIRUT: “This is much better than going out for a drink,” my team agreed after 60 nerve-wracking minutes at the Clue Club, a new live-action escape game which recently opened its doors in Hamra. The Clue Club pits colleagues, friends and family teams against the clock in sets of brain-teasing riddles.

“We finally created an activity in Beirut that does not revolve around food and beverages,” Maya Zankoul, co-founder of Clue Club, told The Daily Star.

The idea is simple: Teams of between two and five people are locked in a room and have to complete a specific mission within 60 minutes to regain their freedom. “It can be quite hard, people need to be organized and systematic to succeed at their mission,” said Ramzi, a game operator at the Clue Club.

Currently there are two different scenarios, each with its own story, mission, set and level of difficulty. The riddles are designed by Zankoul’s partner, Toni who is a professional magician and mentalist. Toni is passionate about everything related to riddles, illusions and puzzles, Zankoul said.

Set in 1945 Nazi Germany, “Explosive Gentlemen” is the advanced mystery. You and your team have to defuse an atomic bomb – surely a sweat-inducing proposition for the untrained. While the second scenario is altogether more glamorous – in “Golden Eye Diamond” teams are tasked with breaking into a locked vault and making off with a diamond.

The game rooms are carefully set to fit their theme and instantly immerse you in the story. Many of the items are unique finds from vintage shops, making the time-travel scenario seemingly realistic. “A lot of detail and attention has been put into the setting, the decoration, and storyline for both rooms,” Zankoul confirmed. Altogether, it works. You feel instantly transported and every detail feels authentic.

The rooms are equipped with cameras so that Ramzi and his colleagues can follow your progress and intervene with guidance and clues when you’re looking baffled. “The game is extremely well thought through, with enough mystery to keep you wondering and enough logic to keep you confident that you are on the right track,” said Patrick, a recent participant, in his review of Clue Club.

Those that have never tried a live action mystery game like this may dismiss it as somewhat juvenile. But there’s nothing childish about the undertaking. “Team Daily Star” battled for nearly an hour before successfully deactivating the atomic bomb with just minutes to spare. The riddles thrown at you by the Clue Club are designed to challenge even the most cerebral of adults – it demands concentration, cooperation and an element of creativity.

Real life physical escape games like Clue Club is a format that’s been growing rapidly in recent years. Europe, the U.S. and Japan have particularly taken to the genre. London alone boasts dozens of escape games with plots from the extraordinary to the seemingly mundane. Finally, Beirutis can get in on the action.

The Clue Clubs’ adventure games are versatile and perfect for all ages or any make-up of group, wether best of friends, close family, or on a corporate team-building outing. Couples can also test the strengths of their relationship through the game, Zankoul said with a smile.

The Clue Club hosts sessions between Thursday and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Marignan Center in Hamra. Prices range between $25 and $35 for a one-hour shut in, depending on the number of participants.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 27, 2016, on page 2.




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