Hong Kong, one night before. The war between the two most powerful triads, the “Red Lotus” and the “Blue Phoenix” seems to have reached its peak. When De is given a mission that seems simple, but in times like these turns out to be a life-threatening ordeal. But does he have what it takes to Take on the opposing triad? Help him land the coup of his life, but most importantly to survive this night.
Completion Time: 60 minutes
Date Played: 24th December 2020
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Families
Content Warning: Violence, Some Swearing
Definitely one of my more unusual choices to play on Christmas Eve, but I figured the theme of the game would resonate with my regular Player 2. Unfortunately, Player 2 dropped out halfway through the game so I’m writing about the game as one I experienced as a 1.5 player team (haha)!
Hong Kong: The Night Before is a unique game in an historical setting I’ve not experienced in any other escape room (or online game for that matter) – Kowloon Walled City in early 1990s Hong Kong, rife with rival mafia groups and the seedy criminal underworld. This is the third original game from German escape room company House of Tales – and their only one at the time of writing available in English.
It’s an interesting mix of video content, point-and-click and audio narration. You, the players, take on the role of a footman of the Red Lotus mafia organisation, sent on a not-so-simple mission to pick up some money from the Red Lotus owned laundromat. You watch a few videos, there’s frequently a fade to black with audio narration on top, and then before each puzzle you’re presented with an environment you can interact with. Unlike other point-and-clicks there are just one or two interactable objects per ‘level’. These then enlarge in a pop-up and you’re presented with a text box to fill out before you may proceed.
It’s a very linear game with only one path to take and a puzzle blocking each stage. Largely, the puzzles are good fun! In particular, I enjoyed one that involved a series of safety deposit boxes. I’m a sucker for a good 4 digit code puzzle and that one was impressive!
On the other hand, there were a few that felt a little out of place. For example you meet a mysterious character that will not tell you what you need to know until you solve three riddles. Arguably, these riddles took us the longest to complete and slowed our progress down immensely. But I know that there are a lot of people reading this who LOVE riddle puzzles and will likely find them a breath of fresh air. So there is indeed a mix in there to suit different players. It depends what you want from a game.
Visually, I really enjoyed the game! It’s the stand out feature and they really evoke a dystopian 90s criminal underworld with bright neon colours, dingy alleyways and shadowy figures in the distance. Though the pacing of the game was slow, each time we made it to a new location it felt fresh and there were exciting new things to click (or button mash, if you’re me!) and explore.
The game ended on an exciting cliff hanger, which was another stand out moment. A moment of “oh my gosh! I didn’t expect that” in an otherwise slow paced, chill-out game. I’ll be excited to see what House of Tales does with a potential sequel for this game and for sure will check it out when it’s launched.
Hong Kong: The Night Before can be purchased for 24.99 EUR on House of Tales’ website in English and German.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.