Hidden City: The Enchanted Mirror

Once upon a time, an Evil Queen cast out her mirror, declared herself the wisest of the land, and challenged her subjects to prove her wrong. Many tried, none were seen again. With help from familiar faces perhaps you’ll be the first to best her majesty, and uncover the truth within The Enchanted Mirror…

Rating: Fun – but for the best experience, wait until lockdown is over
Completion Time: 3 hours
Date Played: 15th May 2021
Party Size: 3
Location: Kensington, London
Recommended For: Families! Also people who want a fun walk in the Kensington area, to solve puzzles and discover beautiful architecture.

Lockdown has been rough for a lot of escape room companies but ones that offer ‘outdoor puzzle trails’ toe a relatively safe middle ground. From before lockdown, I had a lot of very fond memories about playing Hidden City games that involved indoor locations. They often take you into famous landmarks to discover cool and unusual facts, and pubs and cafes to whisper secret codewords to the staff and receive packs of information. Another cool thing about Hidden City is that at the end of the trails you always receive an edible prize. AWESOME!

…Except, thanks to the lockdown none of this is possible anymore. For this reason The Enchanted Mirror (and Moriarty’s Game that I played in the same week), in it’s current state is a fairly average a walking trail. Without the bells and whistles, it’s super hard to justify the comparatively high price on the market. Sure, the cost of a ticket has been lowered slightly (in case you’re wondering, pre-lockdown tickets cost £25, and in-lockdown tickets cost £19) but they’re still on the more expensive side of the London puzzle trail market.

That said, if you’re reading this review at some distant time in the future where the pandemic is but a mere memory, please take this with a pinch of salt! But if you’re reading it now, in 2021, I’d recommend you wait until lockdown is completely over before booking your game. In the mean time, you can still purchase vouchers or check out their play at home game, but a lockdown booking probably won’t live up to the hype or justify the price point.

So without further adieu, onto the review (it rhymes!):

The Story

The story of The Enchanted Mirror is a classic fairy tale of good vs evil in a quest to discover a mysterious (you guessed it) enchanted mirror. She sets you a challenge to best her. A challenge of your wits and cunning but, since so many before you have failed and disappeared, you’ll need more than a little help if you’re to best her and save the land once and for all.

The Route

The Enchanted Mirror is a trail that starts at South Kensington station, a stone’s throw away from all the cool museums like the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. It’s a busy area and in fact we also saw other teams at the start and throughout the trail hunting about for clues – it’s a popular trail! It ends, after a long winding route around beautiful houses, parks and scenes, a few stops down in High Street Kensington.

As the crow flies it doesn’t seem to great a distance but all in all we walked around 19,000 steps over the course of The Enchanted Mirror! After being locked up for so long it was the exercise we sorely needed too. Of course there are plenty of optional stops along the route. We took one of them as a toilet break but as very few places were open we didn’t stop for any food or drinks as suggested.

What is extra special about this walk is how beautiful the route is. If you think you know the Kensington area, think again! This trail took us through hidden passages, beneath beautiful flower arches, around lesser known alleyways, up stairs behind churches and past iconic artwork. We joked that the unofficial name of this walk should be “Hidden City: House Envy” and it’s no lie. Of course, it did help that we had the weather on our side with beautiful sunlight all day except for one flash ‘summer rain’ shower mid-way through.

The Puzzles

If you’re familiar with Hidden City you’ll know that the puzzles in this gfame have a distinctive style. Nothing quite makes sense until the street, or landmark is right in front of you. A mix of anagrams, abbreviations, and cryptic clues – you’ll have to rely on looking around you and looking very closely to crack the code. There are probably around 20 ‘clues’ to crack as you go, and each time you correctly answer you’ll be presented with the next clue.

Despite what I said in the intro, at one point, you do get to interact with a building in your environment. A pub along the way will have a QR code posted outside – or just inside the door on a menu that you can scan to get a code. It’s clear that this puzzle used to be physical, but the creators have done a good job converting it to a digital format. Arguably this was the hardest puzzle in the whole game, but if there pub were open it would be a perfect excuse to grab a table and take a seat as you riddle it out.

The puzzles are as a whole, pretty challenging, but good fun and particularly good use of their environment. The creators have thought long and hard about making sure it’s fully immersive and again, despite the pandemic, they’ve done a good job and made a challenging-but-accessible puzzle trail.

Overall

Good fun! Hidden City are a great company that make some really innovative and immersive experiences. The pandemic shutting everything down makes it harder to run anything ‘immersive’ and they’ve done their best but I’d definitely recommend waiting until later for something truly spectacular!

I personally had a lovely time on a sunny afternoon with 2 of my best friends. We weren’t worried about being top of the leaderboard, we just wanted a nice (and different) day out, which is EXACTLY what we got with The Enchanted Mirror. In the end we saved the day and went home with full stomachs for a nap. You can’t ask for anything more.

The Enchanted Mirror can be played for £19 per person by booking on Hidden City’s website here.

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