Old Town Edinburgh Treasure Hunt Review| In 1695, Edinburgh’s Old Town was haunted by a mysterious grave robber known as the ‘Midnight Body Snatcher’, who when supply ran out.. turned his hand to murder!
Date Played: July 2023
Time Taken: 3 Hours
Number of Players: 2
Here at the Escape Roomer we all kinda have that one thing we write about “the most”. For example, I actually don’t write about (or play) nearly as many escape rooms as my co-writers. But what I do obsessively play are outdoor puzzle trails. The moment I spot a new one on the market, come rain or shine I’m out there with a pen and paper ready to explore. There’s just something so much fun about combining puzzles with exploring an urban space. You get to see things in a new light, you learn historical facts, and you get a pretty fun work out too…
…Well, this particular trail gave me quite literally the work out of my entire life. But even that was kind of cool in itself!
So when I heard about Mystery Guides, I had to get my hands on one. They sounded absolutely awesome. And you know what? They were! But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the start.
So, what are Mystery Guides all about?
Mystery Guides is a company based out of Portsmouth. They’ve got that small, independent feel, and you can tell the creator really loves what he does. Fast forward a few years from their foundation and now Mystery Trails has setup popular trails in many, if not most major cities around the UK. Luckily for me, one of those trails is in Edinburgh.
The format of a Mystery Guide is fairly straightforward. With your order you’ll receive a physical, printed clue book. These books are lovingly illustrated and come packed with puzzles that guide you around the city. With each new puzzle section, there’s a snippet of map showing you where to go next, the actual clue to be solved, and then a snippet of story. In our case, this was in the form of diary entries. Many clues also had local information about the history of the area, or useful tidbits about local businesses / street names / and fun facts.
The games are very much intended for single-use, as you’ll need to write all over them to solve the puzzles.
The Midnight Body Snatcher
In our case, the Old Town Edinburgh Treasure Hunt was a story about “The Midnight Body Snatcher”. Set in the cold winter of 1695 where the streets of the city were gripped by tales of a shadowy body snatcher. In true Burke and Hare fashion, we were hot on the heels of a body snatcher trying to figure out exactly who they are thanks to environmental clues.
I say “hot on the heels”, but what I actually mean was that we were playing in 2023. A new piece of evidence in the 300 year cold case has proven to be the key we need to figuring out who the body snatcher was. The fact he’s probably been dead for centuries didn’t detract from the real sense of urgency to solve the case. And for that, it was a lot of fun.
In terms of gameplay, the Midnight Body Snatcher sort of plays out like a logic grid. Well, sort of anyway. There isn’t too much ‘logic grid’ to it, but the idea is there are:
- Five suspects
- Five symbols
- Five colours
- Five items of jewellery
And with each puzzle solved you can eliminate one of these. The puzzles were a mix of more well known puzzle styles, and ones that were totally unique to the environment. But, in most cases we arrived at a landmark and had to use the physicality of the landmark to solve. Sometimes that meant looking at a plaque, other times it meant counting the letters, or getting up close and personal with a particular landmark to try to find a hidden detail on it.
At first I was a little surprised the categories of “symbol” and “jewellery” felt… Well… Quite random. But then as we neared the finale it all fell into place beautifully with the local history, in a satisfying and fun climax.
Puzzling around Edinburgh City
I played this game in a team of two with my co-writer Rebecca. The game arrived, and no sooner than it did we made a plan to play together on the next Sunday. The fact the weather forecast said it was due to rain all day almost put a dampener on our plans – but not quite. Because it turned out the weather forecast was completely and utterly wrong, as it was a beautiful sunny day. So sunny, we even stopped for ice cream!
If we had just one criticism about the whole experience, it would have more to do with the city than the game, and that was: THE HILLS. I’m writing this review days later and my calves are still aching. Yes, yes, Edinburgh is a hilly city. I live here and I’ve made my peace with it. But The Midnight Body Snatcher took us up and down and up and down and up and down. The whole thing takes place within a fairly small “central city” area. The beautiful old town around the Royal Mile. We began at the Royal Mile, then went up, then down, then back up to the Royal Mile, then back down the other side, then back up the Royal Mile. It’s a good job I don’t skip leg days at the gym.
But one of the good things about Mystery Guides is that the experience is entirely self-led. If you need to take a break, you can. In fact, our trail offered three opportunities to take a break in pub stops.
The Verdict: Mystery Guides Edinburgh
We really enjoyed Mystery Guides’ Edinburgh Trail. There’s fewer pleasures in life than spending time in the sunshine with a friend.
We’d in particular recommend it for families – it struck just the right balance of educational vs fun in an almost Horrible Histories style, and we felt the style of puzzles that pushed us to search about the physical environment would go down a hit with a younger audience. We would also recommend setting aside a full day for this. It does recommend around 3 hours to finish, but there’s so much to see and so many wonderful places you might want to stop and stay a while in. Plus that will definitely break up the hill-climbing!
The Old Town Edinburgh Treasure Hunt can be purchased from Mystery Guides website here.
Note, we were not charged for our experience but this does not affect our review in the slightest.