If you like to give yourself a bit of a mental workout (and to a lesser degree, a physical one – I can guarantee you will end up running) then doing one of A Door in a Wall’s events should be high on your agenda. They are a hybrid between a scavenger hunt and a murder mystery with a little bit of theatre thrown in as well. Their latest intalment, A Stab in the Dark, was my third, and just as I was beginning to get cocky after winning the second, and coming runners up in the first, the last one completely threw me. It’s not difficult enough to be offputting, but it is a challenge and if you can’t solve every single clue then you can easily end up being fooled by one of several red herrings they plant along the way.
Each event starts with a made-up premise which really gives the Door in a Wall organisers room to flaunt their silliniess. Punnery is rife with the names of the characters –one suspect was Zack Cessory – and if you can get on their wave length with your own team name, then you could be rewarded by a prize. For my last game, all participants had ostensibly been invited to a book launch of a famous B-movie horror film star (Don Gowin – say it aloud). But as we arrived we were told something terribly horrible had befallen him – he had been… MURDERED! Dun Dun DUN!!!! As such huge fans of Mr Gowin and his movies, we were asked if we felt we were up to the task of helping find his wicked assailant.
And with that we are given a bit more backstory, the three prime suspects (it is always one of these three) and a clue as to where we should start looking. There are several clue ‘trails’ with a handful of clues to solve in each trail, leading to a key piece of evidence. Then you must put all these pieces together to decide, once and for all, who is the guilty party. Along the way you may run into some shady characters willing to provide a helpful tidbit of information, or seemingly innocuous anecdote that could later prove crucial to your deductions. Expect to solve anagrams, riddles, secret codes, make mysterious phone calls and keep your eyes peeled for any visual clues secreted in your surroundings as well as find yourself participating in made up games or interactive ‘auditions’.
You get a good two hours in which to collect everything but don’t get complacent. It sounds like plenty of time but the clues are stashed far and wide. Being quite competitive, every single time I’ve played I have ended up running around at the end, with our team splitting up to get to every clue because we were running out of time. It’s a true race against the clock and it WILL get your adrenaline going!
The clever – and fiendish – thing to Door in a Wall is that all the suspects have a motive, and more often than not also the opportunity, to do away with the tragic victim. So you can easily be led up the wrong path if you haven’t found everything and figured out how it slots together. Even the room you start in, always done up to reflect the invented scenario may hold clues not to be overlooked.
Once you have finished dashing about like a headless chicken, it’s time to put everything together and submit who the murderer is and WHY. And then the organisers read through it and announce the winner. This they do with great aplomb, and have got down pat the art of revealing all and creating suspense as you wait to find out how right you were.
And the prize? Well, pride of course!
A Door in a Wall is addictive. Each event has its similarities as it follows the same format but with a completely different backstory and clues to follow, each one is a new experience. And you get out what you put in – throw yourself into it, dash around like mad, interact with the characters and you will have a whale of a time, with any satisfaction you get from solving the mystery just the icing on the cake!