HOUSE of TALES - "HONG KONG - The Night Before"
Updated: Jan 25
Videos/ Photos provided by HOUSE of TALES
Company: HOUSE of TALES
Games: HONG KONG - The Night Before
Country: Germany 🇩🇪
Language: English, German
Type of Game: Digital Escape Game 💻
Date Played: 1/17/2021
Difficulty (based on 5 players): 6.5/10
Size of Team: 1-6 people (recommended)
Time: Unlimited (Suggested time 90-120 Minutes)
Price: €24.99/ team
The two most influential triads in Hong Kong ("Red Lotus" and "Blue Phoenix") seems to be on the edge of their seats. Wen De has been assigned to retrieve something. This could be "life or death" for him. Can you help him survive this test?
🆃🅷🅴 🅶🅰🅼🅴 🅿🅻🅰🆈
This is a digital point-n-click game that can be played as a team. Once you enter the code after purchasing the game voucher, your team can use the same link to start the game at the same time. It would be best if you wear headsets when playing this game since there are many audio components. If you are playing with a team, "muting" and "unmuting" on Zoom could become cumbersome. We quite like the audio narrations and sound effects that were implemented in the game. The graphics were beautiful. They all helped set the tone for the back story.
One thing we did find quite inconvenient is that all the members will have to stick with the same pop up clue whenever something was found. Although there wasn't much "searching" components in the game at the beginning, there were more items we're able to click on in various areas in the latter parts of the game. So if a player wanted to look at one clue and another player wanted to look at something else, it would become a "battle" for screen time. Eventually we just took snapshots of the clues with our phones. The process of entering answers only had to be done by one member. If the answer was correct, the screen will continue to the next seen automatically for everyone. There were occasions where we had to use some outside resources (Google/Social Media) for game which some players may not prefer.
There were quite a handful of riddles used in this game. It felt appropriate if the game was sticking to an "Asian wisdom" type of vibe. However we did want to see more variations in puzzle types. Some answers felt like you can "brutal force" them but that wouldn't be fun (although there's no penalty for guessing). There were "progressive" styled hints build into the game. The final hint would reveal the solution. There was no time limit to finish the game so you could take your time to think through the puzzles. Some may require some good old Math skills. One puzzle's clues seemed quite vague to us. When we read the hint we understood what we were supposed to use and what we weren't but you wouldn't be able to tell from the clues that were provided to us (this puzzle have been improved based on our suggestions by the game creator). We did enjoy the way the puzzles were intertwined with the story of the gang and how it made us feel like we're breaking into their headquarters and every puzzle we solved led us closer to our end goal.
With the way the game was designed, I would designate a team leader. It almost feels like we're just sharing a game screen over zoom. There was really no point in multiple people clicking different things at the same time because the puzzles were linear and it had to be solved as a team before moving on. If HOUSE of TALES want to make a more cooperative type of game, they'll have to implement more puzzles that teams can construct together or build an inventory system where the players can at least "search and find" items separately. A non-linear play could be quite interesting to see. We did love the uniqueness of the story line and the graphics of the game a lot. The ending also left us a nice cliffhanger which I assume there will be a sequel coming in the near future?
The theme of 'Hong Kong - The Night Before' is super intriguing. Set amid rival Chinese gangs in the underbelly of the city, it felt like a journey to someplace I've never been. The images and videos featured in the game are gritty and atmospheric. The consistently grimy aesthetic as you move from location to location in the game does a great job of setting the tone and transporting you to the world of the game.
The puzzles were a mixed bag. There are a good number of puzzles, and many are solid escape room style puzzles. A few comments on the ones that didn't work as well for me:
Right off the bat there was a puzzle that required outside knowledge—and it turned out to be the only puzzle that needed outside knowledge (although other puzzles do take you out of the game UI to Instagram and email).
Another set of puzzles overtly leveraged classic river crossing and hat riddles. Those unfamiliar with the riddles might find them challenging, and those who are familiar (like me) would prefer to see a little more reinvention of them.
There was one puzzle that we didn't understand even after revealing the hints and solution. Directional locks can sometimes be temperamental and frustrating in real life escape rooms—and they perfectly recreated that experience online.
For me, the biggest 'pros' were the atmospheric visuals and theme, and the biggest 'cons' were a few tedious puzzles. This online game is set up as a prequel to one of their physical escape rooms, a clever strategy to connect their online and in-person experiences. The ending was a little confusing since it both celebrates your success in this online game and sets up the sequel, but the overall online experience did make me curious to continue the story in the escape room someday.
(If you do decide to try this game, give us a shoutout or tag us on social media so we know you heard it from "ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)
Disclosure: We thank HOUSE of TALES for providing us with samples of the game. Although a complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.