Changi Revisited – The Hendon Horrors

When: 25 Oct 2015
Team: Six people (five friends)
Location: Raintr33 Hotel

In its scale, ambition, production values and depth, the mystery of Changi Revisited has no equal in any event I’ve attended. The publicity surrounding it had made us anticipate a possibly gimmicky, scare-reliant outing; what we got, instead, was a truly meaty mystery with no scares involved.

Of the mystery-related events I’ve attended, this was the most open-ended and free-flowing, yet therefore also the most satisfying. It wasn’t the usual matter of organising a timeline of alibis or a simple process of elimination. Instead, players had to construct a plausible explanation for all the goings-on in the hotel: drawing intuitive links, inferring motives (instead of simply being handed them, as has been the case in other mystery events) and coming up with their own ideas.

That’s not to say that the mystery was far-fetched or illogical. Quite the opposite — there were all sorts of clues at various stages, and the solution felt entirely fair. (My only complaint would be that one of the personages involved had a rather unsatisfying explanation for their behaviour, but that still wasn’t enough to throw us off the right track, so it’s not a game-breaking flaw.)

The attention to detail was also truly impressive. I doubt any team would have noticed all of the many clues left for us to find, nor even some of the (never unfair) red herrings. Yet it also speaks to how well-crafted the mystery is that missing one or two clues doesn’t prevent you from reaching the generally right conclusion.

In terms of structure and logistics, the linear, no-turning-back format worried us a little, at first. But it didn’t harm us in the end, and in fact made for a much better experience as we had every stage of the investigation entirely to ourselves, with no need to jostle for space or interrogate witnesses with other teams around. There was less of a need to split up compared to similar events — which was just as well, given that we couldn’t use mobile phones. (One team member thought the lack of mobile phones was more immersive, perhaps also given the 1981 setting. It certainly was less of a distraction.)

However, the time limit seemed tight, and the team felt constantly rushed. Having just a few minutes between stations could have improved the experience. A little more clarity about the boundaries of interacting with the actors might also have helped; my team held back from pressing the witnesses too hard, for instance, as we weren’t sure what was allowed.

There was also some confusion near the start due to some dates not matching up. We later heard from the creators that there had been a fairly late change in the plot, which was meant to simplify things for players; however, some physical materials hadn’t been updated to reflect this. Again, not a game-breaking flaw, but something that ought to have been fixed.

But all that is just by the way. I was surprised, impressed, challenged and thoroughly engaged — and left hoping that the organisers will hold similar events in the future.

Result: Put together a majority of the puzzle pieces, but not all of it, alas. The organiser gave us “a low A”, haha.

Changi Revisited – The Hendon Horrors



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