Sunday, 13 Jun 2021

Play the sleuth in new 'escape room' at revamped Singapore Discovery Centre

SINGAPORE – Visitors to the revamped Singapore Discovery Centre (SDC) can now role-play as special agents investigating the fate of soldiers sent on a top-secret military mission.

Working in teams of two to five, they need to piece together clues to solve puzzles before they can “escape” from one room to the next in what is called the Black Lake Facility.

In all, there are 13 such rooms which are divided into four “chapters” of three to four rooms.

Another new feature at the SDC, sited in Joo Koon, is a laser tag arena, where players can fire laser guns at one another.

These are among the new facilities that will be unveiled on Saturday (Oct 31) when the centre reopens after six months of renovation, SDC said on Wednesday (Oct 28).

But the centre will open other facilities progressively, partly to ensure crowd control and that other Covid-19 safety measures are implemented properly, SDC executive director Joseph Tan said.

Other facilities that are open on Saturday include a multi-sensory theatre, a new cafe and a boardwalk on the lake beside the SDC where visitors can see up close some of the more than 2,300 newly installed solar panels, which will help supply nearly half of the centre’s annual electricity consumption.

The centre has also refreshed its permanent gallery, with large screens that provide a more immersive viewing experience and a theatre modelled after a bunker.

These were among the highlights shown to reporters at a preview of the new-look centre on Wednesday.

Another new feature at the SDC, sited in Joo Koon, is a laser tag arena. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The gallery tells the Singapore Story from the 14th century till the present day, highlighting key events such as the Japanese Occupation, Konfrontasi, and the 1983 cable car tragedy.

Half of the gallery, which is still being renovated, will open in mid-November.

The ‘Enduring Scars of War’ exhibit which is part of the Through The Lens of Time, an augmented experiential gallery. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The other half – which will focus on more contemporary issues – is scheduled to be ready in the middle of next year.

Mr Tan said that while the content and the theme of the Singapore Story does not change very much, the way the story is told has changed, with the use of technology such as augmented reality, and possibly holograms in the future.

For that part of the gallery which would be ready next year, an element involving Covid-19 will be included, he added.

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“The Covid-19 story is still evolving, but by the middle of next year we would have been able to curate enough interesting stories.”

“So it’s not just struggles but also about celebrating what we’re good at. So when all these stories are put together, it’s about co-creating a Singapore Story together,” he said, with visitors being able to take part through group activities and discussions.

To help keep Covid-19 at bay, the reopened centre will, for instance, allow in a maximum of 499 people at any one time.

To ensure there is no overcrowding, visitors are encouraged to make prior bookings online for facilities that require entry tickets, such as the escape and laser tag rooms as well as the gallery.

The laser tag arena, with ticket costing either $12 or $15 per person, uses the HELIOS2 laser tag system, and features three gameplay themes – cyborg, extraterrestrial and post-apocalyptic. Players can sign up solo or in teams of up to five people per timeslot.

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The room includes interactive combat simulations, such as “land mines” that will activate when a player walks on them.

A new cafe called Wild Thyme replaces the former canteen. Board games are also available in a partnership with the Mind Cafe.

Local celebrity chef Charlie Tham introducing some of the new dishes at Wild Thyme Cafe, which was formerly a canteen. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The Black Lake facility costs $30 for those aged 13 and older, and $24 for children aged three to 12. The price is for one playthrough of one of the four story chapters and it is estimated to take about an hour.

After each playthrough, the escape room will be closed for disinfection for 30 minutes. Players are also required to wear disposable gloves, in addition to masks.

Black Lake Facility, a multi-storey immersive escape room spanning 13 rooms across four themed chapters intertwined in one story. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Public engagement executive Amanda Yin, a member of the team that designed the Black Lake Facility, said it is based on a fictional re-imagining of the SDC as a place doing research on a relic located at the lake beside it.

“Each chapter tells a part of the storyline. This encourages multiple playthroughs for the full story, as well as cater to different levels of difficulty,” she added.

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