Moriarty’s Game review at RIBA, London – ‘fascinating urban adventure game’
The game is afoot. HiddenCity is a company that creates urban adventures: part treasure hunt, part walking tour, in which participants must solve a series of clues sent to them by text.
Its latest trail takes its inspiration from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes’ tale The Final Problem. In truth, the Holmes connection is just a hook on which to hang one of the company’s more intricate games, but it’s no less fun for that.
Designed for teams of two to four people, it’s a great way of seeing the familiar afresh. There’s a vague plot about finding Moriarty’s secret safe house, but the real joy of the experience is in the journey, not the destination. It’s essentially a game of observation, and though a degree of problem-solving ability helps, the more alert you are to your surroundings the quicker you’ll solve the clues.
The trail begins at the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a key part of the appeal is that it prompts you to venture inside buildings you might normally walk past, to sidle down side-streets you might usually ignore, and to open your eyes and engage with the built environment. There are no performers; the whole thing is conducted by phone, with you playing the protagonists in your own detective story.
There’s a competitive element to it as well, with time penalties for incorrect answers and the potential to pause for the occasional Holmesian pick-me-up (or a pint if you prefer). While the denouement is rather underwhelming, the game itself is a pleasure to play.