Puzzle game challenge is launched at Norwich Guildhall
- Credit: Archant
It has inspired films, books and artwork. Now the rich history of Norwich is the source material for an unusual puzzle game, reports SAM RUSSELL.
You are locked in a mysterious room with just 60 minutes to escape.
This is the popular game format that has swept the nation, with storylines typically featuring mad scientists, fictional murders and apocalyptic scenarios, and teamwork encouraged to complete the challenge successfully.
Norwich man Alasdair Willett has now launched his own escape game company with a twist.
History Mystery is based at Norwich Guildhall, the largest Medieval civic building still standing outside London, and draws upon the story-rich history of the Fine City for inspiration.
The 44-year-old explained: 'It works like an escape room game but you're not locked in.
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'It's an exhilerating and intense hour working as a team.
'You have a great fun experience but come away thinking 'I didn't know that before'.'
The first game room overlooks Norwich's 900-year-old market place, and the story gives an overarching view of the city's history, told through the tale of an unfortunate city historian who has got locked in the archives.
A second room with a darker theme is set to open in the prison cells, inspired by a true murder case.
'Throughout the game you learn little bits,' said Mr Willett. 'It's for fun, but you come away having learned about some key moments in Norwich history.
'What we're really about is opening up heritage sites.
'We hope to do this across the country.'
He stressed that no specialist knowledge was needed to play.
Everything that players need is in the games room, with puzzles to solve to progress.
Mr Willett formerly worked as a change management consultant on around £100,000 per year, but has had a lifelong passion for history and amateur dramatics.
He has gone into business with his step-brother Richard Crowest, who has a background in the heritage sector
'We took a look at the heritage sector and thought this is what it's crying out for,' said Mr Willett. 'There are lots of spaces in old houses and castles and the public don't get to access them.
'We think it's a real shame people can't come in and look around the amazing spaces, so we want to change that.
'It deserves to be used.
'I've taken a financially huge risk, but I'd be kicking myself if I didn't try.'
He hopes to roll-out History Mystery to other heritage spots around the country.
'We want to open up a new way of interacting with history,' he said.
The venture is being funded by his own savings and a government start-up loan through NWES.
History Mystery is in its first month in business, and Mr Willett said feedback had been overwhelmingly positive.
For details, see historymysterygame.com