by Bryce Marley-Jarrett
Right now in Tokyo you can take part in a game that will take you across the city, solving puzzles, seeing the city, and traversing the vast Metro system. Tokyo Metro: The Underground Mysteries is a unique scavenger hunt / escape room type game that has you use the city as your board to complete the puzzle.
In our most recent trip to Tokyo, the Japlanning team took on this unique experience. With not too much to go on, we purchased the game pack, jumped on a metro train, and got going.
The game, now in it’s third year of running, is operated seasonally from October 1st until January 31st each year. The game is created by a Tokyo-based group, SCRAP, who run escape rooms (in English and Japanese!). Each year, the game changes completely and is designed to get you thinking, solving puzzles to discover where to travel to next, what to look for, and ultimately win the game. The game has a companion website that is bilingual (English and Japanese), and can be accessed to get hints on the challenges if you get stuck.
Before we delve into the game, and our review, here is the key information you need:
The Game is available to play from now until January 31st, 2018. You can purchase the game in either Japanese or English. The Japanese edition is sold at various metro station ticket offices, but the English game pack is only available at the Ueno Tokyo Metro ticket office, and the Shinjuku Tokyo Metro ticket office on weekends only.
PRICE: 2160 yen. This includes the game, and one 24 hour Tokyo Metro pass to use.
Japlanning Tip: If you are playing as a team, you can either: all buy a game pack, or each purchase a Tokyo Metro 24 hour pass (600 yen per additional person) and share the game pack.
TIME: The game from start to finish can take between 6 and 8 hours. The game takes you to some interesting parts of Tokyo that you might not otherwise see, so if you want to spend more time playing, you can incorporate sightseeing and exploring each area it takes you as well.
The team actually bought the game pack the day prior as we were in the Ueno area, and decided to tackle it the next day (Japlanning Tip - The game can be purchased ahead of time, and the Metro pass will not be activated until you first use it). We started the game at 10:30am. The beginning of the game has you solving a series of puzzles to reveal your first six options of stations to visit to get the answers for your first mission. Yes, it’s intense!
Of the six stations you uncover, you only need to visit three to get the information you need to complete your first mission. Once we had the names, we got moving making a route to try and make the quickest way around to the stations to get mission 1 completed.
These quizzes had us exiting the stations, and using the areas around us to answer the puzzles - and we got stumped quick, and needed to use the hint website by about the second stop. Spoiler: The hint site really doesn’t give you much help. If anything, it helps you look at things in a different angle, but don’t expect to find the answer on the site. The game packs note specifically that station officials do not have answers to any of the puzzles, so don’t expect to find any help there, either.
Each time we completed an aspect of the mission, we were so happy and impressed with just how ingenious the clues and quizzes were! Throughout the game, we kept remarking how much this made us want to check out their escape rooms - the people who came up with this are imaginative!
The full game has 5 missions in total. Each mission has several quizzes, questions and tasks to complete to finish the mission. You must complete everything it says to get the right answer to move onto the next mission.
There were a couple of times we had to back track - getting back on the opposite train to retry the previous step. You must stay observant as it will have you looking for visual queues while on trains to figure out your next stop to do the next mission. If you're thinking this is all too much, stop!
The game is extremely well put together and has clear directions and instructions the entire time. You will not get lost in Tokyo.
Part of the fun is seeing many other people along the way doing the game too, this is always reassuring, as you know you are on the right track if you see others sleuthing too!
By 6:00pm we were at the end location, and completing the final quiz.
To complete the quiz and see if you are successful you have to enter the final answer on the game’s website. The final mission is one of the hardest to solve, but the payoff of getting the screen that you have won: WORTH IT!
So in total, we spent 7.5 hours playing the game to complete it. I’d like to say we wandered and did some sightseeing too while doing it however, that would be a lie. Aside from solving one of the puzzles in a cafe while eating lunch, we mostly focused on the game the whole time and it took 7.5 hours.
Absolutely. This game was so much fun. We found at times we were just grinning like fools at those AH-HAH! Moments when we realised the answers or what we needed to do. It is such a well put together and unique experience. We would say, do not hesitate, if you are in Tokyo and are here a few days during the games season, DO IT! You will not be disappointed if you enjoy escape rooms, board games, scavenger hunts or just having plain fun!