Trains, games, puzzle-solving and team-building? Happening in the very heart of Tokyo’s subterranean transit system? If that clicks your buttons, then the newest Scrap-Tokyo Metro collaboration game, The Underground Mysteries, is definitely worth your time.
A joint adventure by puzzle event creator Scrap (known for its “Real Escape Games”) and the Tokyo Metro, this reality brain-teaser is a skillfully designed exploration of Tokyo’s hidden sights. The game kit—offered in English, Japanese and Chinese—will take visitors on a wild journey up and down the tube (and its escalators), checking exits, reading the walls (and between the lines) in a desperate search for clues that you must decipher in a puzzle guidebook before finally being able to answer the final question. The game will challenge your observation skills (and even make you crazy at times… ), but nothing beats the ultimate sense of achievement after figuring it all out.
How does it work? To start, purchase a game kit (¥2,160), which you can pick up at Ueno station (between 7:40 a.m. and 8 p.m.). It includes the official puzzle guidebook (your love-and-hate document of assignments and hints), a perception card, a Tokyo Metro network map, a pencil and a one-day open ticket to ride the trains—all neatly packed in a clear plastic folder with removable handles, meant to be kept as a memento once you have triumphantly completed the game. Then simply (or not so) solve the first puzzle in the guidebook to start you on your journey. This will take you to four Tokyo Metro stations, where you will need to search for various clues to help solve the riddles before moving on to your next assignment.
Pay attention—even everyday items you notice may be helpful. Hints are seemingly everywhere, yet at times, nowhere to be found. If you get stuck, don’t panic: there is no time limit and your booklet kindly offers access to helpful tips and instructions on how to access free Wi-Fi on your smartphone.
The final question is a true conundrum that will have you scratching your head until (hopefully) you have “Eureka!” moment that guides you to your final destination, where all will be put together. Take our advice: keep all your senses open, look closely and get used to changing your perspective, as this puzzle is not easy to solve, even for experienced mystery hunters. Last, but not least: this is a group experience. Take friends or colleagues along. You may think that you’re Sherlock Holmes—but two (and more) heads always think better than one.
Though the entire game is estimated to take about four hours to complete, we highly recommend devoting an afternoon or whole day to it. It covers a lot of ground and you can double the joy of exploration by stopping at some of Tokyo Metro’s recommended cafés, activity spots and parks (listed in the guidebook) for a quick pick-me-up, map orientation session or strategy session with your team. But you’ll need to do it fast—the Underground Mysteries game only runs until January 31!
For more information, visit the game’s official website.