What comes to my mind upon hearing the term “team building” is a field with physical activities or a boardroom with relatively unexciting games.
Neither of these spark joy to me. So, much to my delight, we had the pleasure of having our first team-building experience since I joined the Vulcan Post team at Breakout’s Spy Game.
True to its name, Spy Game lets players (called agents) roleplay as spies. Its plot? To infiltrate an anti-technology cult called LUDDITE and uncover its hidden agenda.
There are five missions in total that correlate to five escape rooms—Purify, Rescue, Break In, Sneak In, and Destroy. Before last year’s Christmas holidays, our team had a taste of the first two escape rooms.
We didn’t have much success though, so this time, we returned for the third and fourth installment of the story with a vengeance.
The goal of Mission 3: Break In is to steal documents containing LUDDITE’s evil plans, whereas Mission 4: Sneak In needs you to recover a camera that’s been recording all of the cult’s illegal activities.
Seven of us joined the operations and were split into groups of four and three respectively. Each group was generously given the opportunity to play both missions by the Breakout team.
As part of the briefing, we scanned QR codes that connected us to Spy Game’s platform. This allowed us to stay in touch with Agent K (an informant), who would help us in our missions.
So it’s important that you charge your earbuds if they’re wireless before joining the game. Before heading in, a short video explained the premise of the chosen mission.
We were each handed a vest and pouch to keep our phones, earbuds, a flashlight for each team, and a map. Other belongings such as bags can be stored in lockers provided by Spy Game.
After that, my group was called into Mission 4 while the other team started with Mission 3. And all the courage I mustered up went skedaddling away.
Warning: Minor spoilers on the gameplay experience ahead.
Unlike when we played Mission 1 and Mission 2 in the past, only two people in each team, the designated leader and co-leader, were asked to tune into Spy Game’s website this time.
This made things harder as only those two members would be privy to important information, and properly conveying that information to everyone else in such a tense and heart-pumping environment was challenging.
Once you’re in the room, the 30-minute timer you have for each mission starts ticking. If you’ve never played a Breakout game before, the first few minutes in a room can be intimidating when you can’t figure out what objects hold clues.
Thankfully, Agent K would periodically drop us hints throughout the mission, sometimes in the form of a voice message, and other times in text form. Both were equally helpful in getting the game moving.
Since we were intruders, we also had to hide from LUDDITE members on patrol. According to my teammates who played the first two missions, there was way more hiding required back then, and they were caught by LUDDITE in each mission.
With less hiding this time around, it meant we had more time and brains to solve puzzles, some of which seemed pretty tricky. But the answers are usually easier than you’d expect.
Mission 4: Sneak In
Mission 4 started us off in a barn, and we have to say that Spy Game did an amazing job at replicating the smell and interior of a barn, complete with horse neighing that scared us every now and then.
A good piece of advice would be to scope around for hiding spots as soon as you enter a room, so that you don’t hurt yourself scrambling to find one at the last minute.
This mission is supposedly more physical than the other, so be ready to climb, sneak, and hide in tight spots. Wearing comfortable clothing that’s easy to move around in is a must, and many of us dressed up in all-black too for better disguise.
Typically, the more team members you have, the easier it will be to solve puzzles, since you can delegate tasks. However, this might also mean fewer (comfortable) hiding spots for everyone, as you’ll see later in Mission 3.
After completing the first room, two of our teammates went ahead past the short obstacle course with lasers to enter the mission’s main room.
Matt (our head of content production) and I stayed put in the previous room in case we still had a task to do in the first room, since navigating back and forth through the obstacle course seemed risky.
Even with all the hints given by Agent K, it still took our brave duo, Joyce (our client content writer) and Claudia (our editorial writer), a good 10 to 15 minutes to solve various puzzles in a rather gorey room, all the while expecting a LUDDITE member to come barging in. If you could only hear our heartbeats in the moment…
It was interesting to note that there’s no one specific way to solve some of the puzzles in these missions.
The other team that did Mission 3 first even shared that their way of solving some of the Mission 4 puzzles later was vastly different from our own, but they still managed to get through.
Sure, there’s probably a more efficient solution out there, but it pays to put your creative thinking cap on because that’s where the fun is.
Just don’t go overboard and do anything you’re not supposed to, like damage property and touch decor that’s labelled “This is not part of the game.”
However, there were some parts of the game and instructions that seemed like red herrings. Maybe we just weren’t following the instructions the right way.
With some brainwork (and some unsolicited help from the cult member), we ultimately managed to secure the highly coveted camera. Hurrah!
Mission 3: Break In
The third mission was much easier in comparison. Even on Spy Game’s website, the difficulty level for Mission 3 is lower than Mission 4. And apparently, Mission 4 is also not suitable for beginner players, but I thankfully had my experienced team with me.
Now that I had a taste of what Spy Game was really like, it felt less stressful to join in the fun of the next mission. With the goal of getting top-secret hidden documents, we were led into a children’s bedroom.
This time, though, we learnt from our previous mission and gave each agent in our team one-half of an earbuds pair. This allowed us to be more in sync and helped operations go smoother.
The choir-like lullaby playing over the escape room’s speakers helped set the mood for another heist. But knowing it was supposed to be part of a cult gave us an eerie feeling of uneasiness.
Just like Mission 4, we had to hide from a guard who was in an adjoining room. There was also another physical course that tested our brawns, specifically stability, so it’s highly recommended that you wear sneakers.
As mentioned earlier, cult members coming into the room for patrol duties are a norm of the game, so it’s important to find a hiding spot. But if you can’t or there’s not enough time, then that’s when the disguises and accessories lying around the room come in handy.
Here’s where having a bigger team can be a con, as in another room called the infirmary, Joyce and I weren’t able to find hiding spots in time when a LUDDITE member came in.
So, we resorted to putting on disguises and roleplaying. Joyce cosplayed as a patient by lying on the bed and I donned a hospital gown to act like a doctor.
But when LUDDITE came in and began questioning us, I broke character too many times. Acting isn’t my forte and giggling was my main vice. Joyce held out and tried to convince him she was indeed a sick cult member, only to no avail.
Caught red-handed, we were whisked away to a small time-out room for about a minute before being allowed to rejoin the game. By the time we got out, our 30-minute window was past the halfway mark, and the team was still stuck on one particular puzzle.
If you’re someone who likes riddles then you’ll probably enjoy this mission. We felt that some instructions could have been worded clearer as we found them confusing at times, even though what they were asking us to do was fairly simple.
However, it does add to the challenge of the game and brings a higher level of satisfaction when you finally understand its hidden (in plain sight) meaning.
That said, we almost gave up and ransacked the place to find the document. The answers were vital to getting out, after all.
With less than five minutes on the clock, we squeezed whatever brain juice we had left. And miraculously, it worked. The adrenaline surely helped as we snatched the records and left the crime scene.
“Congratulations agent, you retrieved the documents and completed the mission.” We breathed a sigh of relief.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Having no experience in escape rooms to being on a team that accomplished both missions was certainly exhilarating. Though, I must admit that my part in it was small.
After regrouping, we found out that the other team had a harder time in the games and only won in Mission 4. But to their credit, they were quite close to winning Mission 3. They felt that lacking one member compared to our team made a difference in their outcome.
Overall, the new rooms were well planned out and creative. Everyone had fun and it certainly boosted our team spirit.
But we also agreed that having everyone be a part of the game’s communication channels made the game a smoother experience. Unless the whole point is to make us communicate better with each other?
Either way, the instructions from Agent K were crucial to the success of the mission. And while those who were connected to Spy Game’s website could have repeated the instructions to the other teammates, it loses the touch of everyone being agents.
Plus, whispering isn’t as effective as speaking loudly, but you can’t really do that when you’re hiding from getting caught.
We’ll definitely look forward to coming back to conquer the final mission once it’s out (a little birdie told us it’ll be tentatively released next year). And hopefully, everyone will be winners when that time comes around.