Present, in September 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant, Lioness, Amazing J
I’ve made no secret of my love for Kanyu. I loved the venue as a quirky little building long before Escape Rooms were ever a thing. And our first three games there only ever confirmed that it is actually a really special place. Secret of the Leopard People is their fourth (and, for now, final) room, a long time in creation due to the pandemic, and we were super excited to play.
Secret of the Leopard People is, like all of Kanyu’s own games, part of “The Secrets of South Lodge” – the tales of wealthy explorer Sir Henry Cunningham and his adventures in Africa. This time you have retraced Sir Henry’s journey to a volcanic cave, which might lead you to the hidden realm of the legendary Leopard People. An incredible discovery, if only you can investigate it fully before the volcano erupts… It is such a great premise, and a really ambitious one to attempt to bring into being.
Kanyu does have high quality sets. From the beginning, you are plunged into a tiny, dark cave, with intriguing items and a real thrill of trepidation. It was a tight squeeze with the four of us (maximum team size) and anyone who is a little claustrophobic may struggle at first, but the game does open out quite quickly. It still isn’t a massive set (particularly after playing Poachers’ Compound!) but is comfortable enough.
Hard to write more about the set without spoilers – suffice to say it is very cool and beautifully immersive. We needed the provided torches, but there is no real difficulty by darkness, and the light levels are actually crucial to the game at points. The props are fabulously tactile and it feels impressively thematically linked to Sir Henry’s previous missions, whilst still being something fresh. In many ways it feels like the culmination of the other three games, with recognisable notes from all of them.
Fitting with the nature of the story, there are no written clues and only a couple of what could be regarded as traditional locks. One element felt maybe a touch modern in appearance, although with the level of mysticism involved in the narrative, it didn’t seem unpleasantly anachronistic (and was a lot of fun anyway). With the amount of concealed tech going on here, unfortunately glitches were always a possibility*. I think we had two – managing to a fluke a task without completing it properly; and one bit of machinery sticking just in the worst possible place (any other position would still have been solvable, it was just really unlucky). Neither impacted on our enjoyment (although we were slightly confused!) and overall the magical tech added much more than it took away. One element in particular was very clever and completely new to us; another, we had only come across once before but is a great team activity.
Secret of the Leopard People doesn’t maybe have the pure flow of Follow In My Footsteps, the wicked smarts of Lightning In A Bottle, or the sheer fun of Poachers’ Compound. But it has an individual magic of slightly spooky, mystical adventure, with a frenetic, teamwork-based finale – a beautiful, challenging and thrilling experience.
*Good news! I had a message from Bob, supremo at Kanyu, that since our visit they have made a couple of tweaks and the game has been running glitch-free.
- Storyline: Think it made sense. Maybe lost track with what we were doing in the final mad scramble.
- Theming and Set: Immersive and effective. A snug fit, in places.
- Searching: More strongly puzzle-oriented. We still managed a search fail though.
- Puzzles: Excellent temple-type tasks, very hands-on. If you hate 4-digit padlocks, this is a great room for you.
- Physicality: Good hand-eye and reactions will help a little, but not overly physical.
- Scare factor: A little bit dark, a little bit confined, a little bit creepy, with building tension. Not deliberately scary, but might shake the more sensitive types.
- Company Age Guidance: 16 years upwards.
- Age suitability: This isn’t a game for kids, although I suspect the age restriction is to protect the set as much as anything. Sensible, respectful, experienced older teens (like Amazing J) would be fine.