“Hello, detective. I have a request for you.” The letter you received from Japan, started like this. The letter was written by a girl named Erika. Deciphering the code which her father left for her, was the request made for you. While you unlock the code, Erika will travel all around Tokyo city, of course with you, through the internet. What is the hidden treasure, and why did her father leave the codes behind for her? Why Tokyo city? …This story is about you and Erika, and her mysterious secret letter.
Completion Time: 1hr30
Date Played: 6th February 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: People who’d like to visit Tokyo, but cannot due to lockdown (thanks pandemic!)
World Detective Mystery is a really cool idea, and I totally get it. In 2020 the Tokyo Olympics were supposed to kick off, welcoming many new international tourists to the city. But well, here we are. One of the things Tokyo Nazotoki Escape had planned was an English language escape room, but unfortunately those plans were also cancelled in 2020.
So World Detective Mystery comes as a breath of fresh air. It’s a mail-order escape room with one specific goal in mind: To bring Japan into the homes of folks around the world. You join Erika on a tour-come-treasure-hunt around Tokyo city by video. At times, it really feels like you’re walking the streets with her, stopping for delicious food, learning facts about the city, and of course solving puzzles!
The story goes, Erika’s father passed away many years ago and left her a letter to be deciphered on her 20th birthday. But her birthday arrives and the letter is still as much of an enigma as it ever was, so Erika calls in you to help. A world renowned detective able to decipher any code! No pressure, eh?! As each puzzle is solved, a new location is revealed and Erika will take you there by video and talk through her (really quite sad) memories with her late mother and father in this location.
The whole puzzle pack is very small – it fits in an airmail envelope, which is a nice touch! There are 9 parts, or rather 9 steps in the treasure hunt, 9 locations to find and so on… But the cool thing? All this information fits on just a couple of postcard sized pieces of paper.
Player 2 and I sat down to play this game over two sittings on one snowy afternoon. Why two sittings? Well, we got stuck – I don’t mind admitting it! However, after emailing the Tokyo Nazotoki Escape team they got back to us in a super quick time with a very handy photograph of what we were supposed to do on the next step. Since it was the final puzzle, there was no love lost with the game and taking a break was a nice pause before the ‘big finale’.
This does raise a point I wanted to mention! There is no cheat-sheet in this game, so if you do get stuck you’re on your own. With just one hint to help you, you’ve got to scrap it out and figure it out for yourself. To be honest, I enjoyed this! Most games hand the answer quite easily- or maybe I just reach for them too easily! But World Detective Mystery won’t be quite that easy. Puzzlers be warned!
That said, we did get to see all the answers AFTER the end of the game. On completion, you’re offered the “commentary” page which explains exactly how each puzzle needs to be solved and what the correct answer is. *glances around nervously* I do still have this link if you’re visiting my blog hoping to find help with a particular puzzle, but request it at your own risk! It’s a page packed with spoilers and the game is better spent puzzling it out for yourself.
I say the puzzles are tricky, but equal parts tricky and very cool! In particular players can expect a lot of multi-step, cipher-based puzzles. There’s also a lot of reliance on letter and word puzzles, which surprised me as I’d (probably incorrectly, I’m not sure) assumed the game was translated from Japanese. But regardless, each puzzle was done creatively, making use of signs you see in the video tour, or the Tokyo train map, with a lot of clever flair. Tricky, but a great “aha!” when you finally do crack them! Love it!
Overall, we found this escape room really good fun. A great challenge and a lovely way to feel like we’d actually gone on a trip around Tokyo. Some day, when I eventually do get to travel outside of the UK, Nazotoki Escape is high on my list to try out in person.
World Detective Mystery: The Enigma and the Secret Treasure can be ordered for 1,650 yen (~£12) on their website.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.