Have you ever fancied yourself as something of a secret agent? Did you beg your parents for one of those mail-order spy kits for your birthday, with the invisible ink and disguises, and go around cracking codes or defeating evil villains? Do you just fancy wearing a Sherlock-style silly hat and pretending to be clever? Be honest. Well, if you’ve ever wanted to live out those childhood dreams again but in ACTUAL REAL LIFE, Agent November may well be the game for you.
What do you do?
Can you solve the mystery?
This is a live puzzle game; for those of you who’ve never heard of one, think of those locked-room puzzles you can play online (and get stuck on and never finish, in my experience), but on a big scale and in real time, with varying interactive elements. Most people call them ‘escape rooms’ or something to that effect. They are getting increasingly popular, but most are still based in maybe a couple of rooms at most, which of course can limit the overall immersion of the experience. They’re fun, but potentially not brilliant for those without much focus, or those who are easily bored. Agent November is a different take on the concept.
There are three missions for you to choose from here, 2 of which are played mostly outdoors, one is held solely indoors (ideal when faced with unpredictably awful city weather). You have 60 minutes to find clues, solve puzzles and use gadgets to save London from unimaginable peril whilst the ordinary folk go about their business completely unaware; although they might notice you and your friends running about like lunatics, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it. You are also assisted by a mysterious undercover agent and of course, you can make up a codename for yourself! Due to the classified nature of these operations, I can’t tell you much more about what they involve exactly (and it would spoil the surprise!!), but I can tell you just how brilliantly fun they are!
The games are very challenging, with some agents reportedly leaving the missions without solving them! The tongue-in-cheek atmosphere appeals to those of us that have always wanted to be some sort of hero, and plays on British spy sensibilities (you find your undercover agent in a pub).
The expansive outdoor missions also provide a great alternative to the city’s tourist traps whilst keeping kids occupied. As they say on their website, each game lasts for 60 minutes, but the time slot is 2 hours long, to allow for your briefing, the game itself, and a moment to calm down afterwards. It’s tough work being an amazing secret agent, and you come out feeling like you really have just averted a terrible crisis. That’s something to boast about to your mates or work colleagues, at least.
Who can I bring with me?
You can bring a whole team of up to 7 people, making it ideal for those of you who want something different to do on your day trip or special occasion. Even those under 18 can join in, if accompanied by a guardian. In fact, having a good mix of people will probably help you solve each case, as the activities range from item-hunting to code-cracking. On request, they can run multiple games simultaneously. This means that they can cater for group sizes of up to 50 people in one go (or even more, if you’re polite enough!), making this also ideal for businesses looking for team building days, or groups of students like myself wanting an ‘educational treat’. Gift certificates are even available for any mission, also making the game the ideal birthday gift for a budding spy! They last for a whole year, so you can plan a trip to the city and know you have something fun planned (thank me for that idea later).
What do you think?
The game makers have clearly hit on a good idea here. The aftereffects of Sherlock’s popularity are still being felt, and escape games are also having a bit of a moment. The premise naturally lends itself to big groups of people, which as previously mentioned makes it an excellent, different choice for events. Being based in London, there is no shortage of those! Perhaps this is why it has a Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor.
The concept of being a detective or spy is surely one with universal appeal and so there is no feeling that the game has been made to capitalise on a trend. A lot of work is put into each mission, and it shows in the feedback given by players, as well as the spirit of the game itself.
On a personal level, I am very impressed with their welcoming of all potential agents, such as the slightly younger rookies and those with disabilities. Often this is not thought about or age limits are set, so some can feel left out when going to games like this. To see people even attempting full inclusion is a refreshing change, in my opinion.
It’s also more reasonably priced than you perhaps might think, with each mission costing £119 for a group of up to 7 wannabe detectives; cheaper than many activities would be for such a large group. The team can even organise Murder Mr E at a location of your choice for £175. Just imagine, a murder at the office! Wouldn’t that liven up your Wednesday? Though please, do not try and attempt one yourself just so you can solve it. It’s messy and illegal. Leave it to these guys.
Overall then, I reckon Agent November is an (if not the!) ideal experience for an exciting day out in the capital. You get to exercise your brain with fun and fiendish puzzles, and with all that sprinting around you’ll have to do, you’ll probably get a good workout too. Good luck, fellow agents, and hang on to your hats! (But don’t take them home, obviously.)
This was a collaboration piece between me and Media Pickles. Make sure to go support her website!