Use promo code YAHOO to get S$10 off when booking games on Loading's website.
The new GR.iD mall on Selegie Road recently opened, taking over the premises of the old PoMo mall.
The design of GR.iD, which stands for "Great Identity", was strongly geared towards creating social spaces where people can connect, interact and form communities.
As such, the mall has has eclectic offerings which include arts school MADDspace, golf training centre Golftec, and fine dining eatery House on the Moon.
In keeping with its theme of connecting individuals through entertainment, GR.iD is also the location of Loading, the first English-language "scripted murder" games venue in Singapore.
Bringing China's 'scripted murder' craze to Singapore
"Ju ben sha", which means "script-killing", has been all the rage in China in the last few years. There are 30,000 jubensha studios across the country.
Script-killing consists of live action role-playing (LARP) games. Players are assigned roles in a murder mystery story and placed in rooms which are built and decorated to simulate the setting in the storyline.
They then have to act out their roles while deducing who among them is the murderer.
Scripted murder games therefore combine the puzzle-solving elements of escape rooms with the social interaction and performance elements of LARP.
Loading's founder, Huang Jiawei, bought the scripts for his games from China and had them translated into English for the local market.
There are a couple of other tabletop jubensha shops in Clementi that offer only Chinese language scripts. Loading is the first jubensha studio in Singapore to translate scripts into English.
The games at Loading have also been designed to immerse players in realistic environments, complete with elaborate props and rooms that allow players to move around and look for evidence.
Huang, who has a day job as an IT product manager, hopes to introduce locals to script-killing games and adapt them to suit the local culture.
Jubensha scripts are very complicated, with multiple characters and complex storylines. In China, game shops and players purchase these scripts from specialised writers.
As such, scripted murder mysteries are longer and more intense than escape rooms. While escape rooms usually last about an hour, jubensha games in China can be as long as four to five hours.
However, Huang said the games at Loading were adapted to be about three to four hours long.
Loading features two games which are set in ancient China and rural Europe. Huang bought the scripts from China but they were translated from Chinese to English by his team so that more people in Singapore can enjoy them.
The scripts contain both Chinese and English and players can choose to play in either language.
Jiawei said he intends to eventually open a shop at another location with scripts written in-house. This first outlet at a mall in a central location serves as an accessible location to expose locals to the game.
We asked Huang whether the price, at S$68 per pax for a game, was a little too expensive. Huang said jubensha games in China cost about 200 to 300 yuan, which amounts to about S$50 to S$60. Given his rental and renovation costs in building the studio, he said the price they had set for Singapore was reasonable. Furthermore, because murder mystery LARPs are longer in duration, lasting three to four hours, the price per hour is less than that of escape rooms, which cost about S$30 for one hour of gameplay.
For this review, we played the game with a Chinese setting, in which we were transported back in time to the ancient Tang Dynasty, ruled by the only female emperor of China, Empress Wu Zetian.
The game can be played in groups ranging from 5 to 8 players and in addition to costumes, each player receives a script detailing the backstory of the character that you choose before the game starts.
The kind female staff member helped us into our costumes, which was challenging as I had to squeeze into the regalia of the Phoenix Saint, the main character of the game and a divine oracle who was beloved and worshipped by the Chinese common folk as a semi-deity.
If I have one major gripe, it would be the heftily long script for the backstory provided for each character.
We all took about 20 minutes to read the lengthy exposition that was provided to us, and even then there was much chagrin and riffling of paper to figure out how to progress in the objectives laid out in the script without accidentally revealing our motives.
We had a lot of fun as we play-acted, searched for evidence and talked to each other in our attempt to solve the murder.
The chaos that ensued included much hand wringing, finger pointing, sifting through evidence and accusatory shouting as we picked through various rooms in the game's labyrinth in search of evidence of the murderer amongst us.
Much of the confusion also involved the misdirection that our group employed to distract and equivocate to conceal our motives, which resulted in much hilarity.
"Why are you working for this noble family and how are you related to them?" My friend asked pompously in character, wagging his prop pipe accusingly at me.
"I import spice for them!" I retorted in protest, dodging behind my phoenix fan in defiance. "I'm a poor divine oracle so I need more than one stream of income!"
We eventually emerged after three hours, exhausted but triumphant after managing to successfully solve the murder mystery.
Pros: If you enjoy getting into character and costumes, learning and remembering character backstories, taking lots of Instagram selfies, acting out a script and spending hours trying to solve a murder, then these mystery games are for you.
Cons: If you have the fleeting memory of a goldfish like me, a bladder that needs to be emptied once every so often, and scant patience to read, absorb, role-play and argue with your friends for hours to solve a murder mystery, then maybe you might want to give this a pass.
1 Selegie Road, B1-03 & 04, GR.iD, S'pore 188306
Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 10.00am to 1.00am
Telephone: 9132 8088