Chinese actors are immersed in Hong Kong-themed “escape rooms” that recreate iconic city scenes, gangster movie plot and Cantopop legends

As the online “escape room” trend swept through China, a new Hong Kong-themed game genre has captured the imaginations of young adults in the country’s capital, Beijing.

in your name”Gang Feng Mi ShiIn Chinese, the rooms not only showcase iconic cityscapes from districts and locations such as Mong Kok, Nathan Road and Lan Kwai Fong, but also feature subjects inspired by Hong Kong gangster movies, traditional tea houses, and other cultural icons of the city.

Players say they experience “strong feelings of immersion” and “instantly being taken to Hong Kong” in the rooms.

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The best example is the “Cover the Sky with One Hand” room.

Inspired by Hong Kong gangster movies, the plot unfolds in 1997’s “Harbor City” and revolves around two rival gangs vying for dominance and trying to navigate their confrontations with the police.

Participants are secretly assigned roles in each of the rival gangs or police force and must seek clues to find their teammates and cooperate to succeed as a team.

One actress shared her experiences on social media platform Xiaohongshu.

Gamers on the mainland, Hong Kong-themed

“While the style may seem like a simple Hong Kong gangster movie, interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) allows you to uncover hidden secrets and threads that are intricately tied to each gang and police station.

“Each player can discover many hidden plots depending on their individual roles and setting. ”

Another actor praised the meticulous handling of the scenes: “In a second, the escape room transports you to the streets of old Hong Kong from the last century.

“You’ll find tea houses, snack stalls, bars and even a karaoke bar here – lots of little details and cinematic settings really immerse you in the experience.”

Another Hong Kong themed room called “Aman Tea Restaurant” has also become very popular.

It plunges players into the heart of Hong Kong’s densely populated Kowloon district and recruits them as detectives from the Major Crime Squad investigating mysterious disappearances.

Players’ feedback on social media indicates that knowledge of Hong Kong pop culture is vital to mastering these escape rooms.

Puzzles may include songs sung by legendary Cantopop singer Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing. They also explore topics like the “Four Heavenly Kings” of the genre, specifically Alan Tam Wing-lun and Jacky Cheung Hok-yau struggling for dominance.

One participant said, “It’s like a race against time to remember memories! If you haven’t heard their songs, you might feel a little lost.”

In addition to the original content and scene settings that truly epitomize the essence of Hong Kong, the rooms offer a wide variety of experiences and immersion is key.

For example, “Mong Kok Chaser” offers multiple story endings, while “Infernal Affairs” allows players to wear Hong Kong-style outfits, increasing the sense of involvement.

An actor who enjoyed the play “Nathan Road” shared his experience in Xiaohungshu, talking about how he enjoyed the experience of playing the role of a movie director.

Rooms based on the city's famous gangster movies and featuring Cantopop legends are particularly popular.  Photo: “Xihongshu”

To increase the authenticity of the experience, another online observer suggested: “If you can speak Cantonese during interactions with NPCs, that will definitely add to the immersive Kanto mood.”

On Dianping, mainland China’s leading platform for crowdsourced entertainment reviews, a search for “Hong Kong-themed escape rooms” yielded 494 results in Beijing alone.

With an average playtime of 1.5 to 2.5 hours, prices are also affordable and mostly range from 150 to 400 yuan (US$20 to US$55).

Many say the experience has led them to rewatch classic Hong Kong gangster movies, remember the excitement around Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, and even spark a desire to travel to the city.

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