You can only spend so long lepak-ing with your friends under the void deck before it gets boring. My weekends are usually spent this way, with all of us just lamenting on how “there is nothing to do in Singapore”.
Ever since my career as a writer began, I have made it my personal quest to find the interesting things in Singapore, to try as many experiences as I can, to prove them wrong—that there are actually fun things you can do in Singapore.
I came across Xcape Singapore while scouring the internet. Xcape Singapore is an escape room venue where groups of different sizes can join in and participate in escape rooms of different themes.
But before you think all Xcape has are normal escape rooms where you have to solve puzzles and wreck your brain, let me stop you right there.
I came across pictures on Xcape Singapore’s Facebook page, and I saw pictures of participants decked out in Chinese costumes from the early 19th century.
Upon further research and I discovered that this particular game was called Shanghai 1943 RPG (Role Playing Game). Questions filled my brain. Cosplay IN an escape room? I had never seen such a thing before here in Singapore.
Six of my friends were sporting enough to answer my call to arms, and I proceeded to set up a session with Xcape Singapore via email.
Located in Bugis Village, Xcape Singapore stood out amongst the many other shops in the vicinity with its neon green lights.
Upon confirmation of your booking, you will be brought to another room where the game will take place. I questioned the legitimacy of the organisation for a brief moment as I walked up this dimly lit staircase—you would think that we were being kidnapped if you didn’t know that we were going to play an escape room.
This, however, piled on the suspense as all of us have never played an escape room before and did not know what to expect.
We were then greeted by the neon red lights of Paramount, the fictional nightclub where Shanghai 1943 takes place.
As Shanghai 1943 is a role-playing game, all of us had to choose our roles: Detective, White Rose, Big Boss Qian, Young Marshal, the Assistant, and the Reporter.
We were then given a script and the storyline of our character which we had to study. Don’t worry if you cannot remember every detail about your character, as you are allowed to refer to the script throughout the game, although this is not recommended as it might interfere with the experience.
As we were studying our characters, we took turns to time travel back to 1943. The changing room was fully equipped with costumes for each character. What I particularly appreciated was that—with the exception of White Rose—all the other characters were gender-neutral, so both guys and girls had a variety of options to choose from. Do take note, however, that with the exception of the Detectives whose number changes depending on the number of players, there is only one of each character per game.
Here’s the before and after photos of our group. #squadgoals?
We then watched a video tutorial explaining the game. As we were a group of seven, two of us played the role of detectives while the other five of us would be suspects. Among these five, one of us is the killer. It is the job of the detectives as well as the innocent parties to figure out who the real murderer is.
There are five phases in this game. First, the detectives will interrogate all the suspects and gather information. The suspects are also allowed to accuse one another and divert blame.
This is followed by a crime scene investigation, where all of us entered the scene of the crime to gather clues which will help in the investigation.
With the clues discovered, the detectives will conduct another cross-examination of all the suspects. Everyone was free to speak and make accusations at one another as well.
There will then be another round of evidence gathering, before another twenty-minute session of discussion on who is the killer.
The game ends with a voting slip, where each player will have to cast the vote on who the murderer is. You win if the actual murderer is called out.
Well, you got to figure the answer to this question by playing the game for yourselves.
Overall, the game was not exactly an escape room, but a fun twist on a Murderer game. That being said, it was more immersive than I imagined and the costumes and scripts really helped us get into character.
You might think that only the killer will have a detailed plot and backstory, however, each character was actually very well thought through—there was so much depth to each character’s story that helped to mislead the detectives during gameplay. We had so much fun that we were still discussing the game days after we played it.
My only gripe with this Shanghai 1943 RPG is that it is a game you can only play once since you will know the answers and playing for a second time will be too predictable.
If you’ve never tried it before, I highly recommend you to come down and experience Shanghai 1943 RPG for yourselves. If you are looking for a great team-building activity, you can look towards Xcape as well as they are able to cater to groups of all sizes.
If you do play the Shanghai 1943, do away with the scripts—it’ll make the game that much more fun. Thank you Xcape Singapore for giving us this experience, and I hope that they can come out with more immersive games like Shanghai 1943 so that people will return and engage themselves in another adventure through time.
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