Unraveling the Mysteries of Madoka

One minute you’re walking around minding your own business when the next thing you know, BAM! Sucked into a witch’s barrier. They say that there’s no hope for pedestrians who wander into this magical maze, but we know from experience that so long as you find the exit before it closes, you may have a chance to make it back home alive...

Last weekend we ignored the warnings and dove headfirst into the otherworldly labyrinth to save Madoka in the Puella Magi Madoka Magica “real escape game” held at the Venus Fort shopping center in Odaiba. A real escape game is a live mystery-solving event where you cooperate with others to gather clues and fulfill certain objectives within the time limit. In our case, we were a group of 5 with 90 minutes to find Kyuubey before he tricks Madoka into forming a contract!

We received a series of clue cards, and the solution to each of these riddles fit into a crossword table--though finding which row they belong to was a mystery in itself! Once all the answers were properly aligned, they revealed the secret keyword that we needed to leave the main hall and search the rest of the building for more hints. 

For example, one of the easier clue cards read like this:

↑↓↓↑↓
SDROL
APOHN

Follow the arrows and you get the letters S-P-O-O-N. Each clue card is marked with an emblem, so next you match this with the corresponding emblem on the crossword to find where to place the word. The “P” in “SPOON” falls onto a special row that designates the ominous keyword--”WALPURGIS.” 

The witching hour was soon at hand! Free from the barrier, our next task was to stop Kyuubey. The riddles only got more nefarious once the entire three-story shopping mall became the playing field. One involved unlocking an iPhone to receive a recorded hint from Homura, except the password was hidden in a room from an earlier puzzle. Careful observation--and out of the box thinking--were key. 

Time was against us and we were in no position to run blindly back and forth. Often the solution was right underneath our noses--everything was a clue. Even the folder and name tags handed out at the beginning of the event turned out to reveal a crucial hint when we ran them under a blacklight! 

Our teamwork prevailed and we were able to put a stop to Kyuubey’s ambitions--for this loop, at least. At the end we each received a pair of exclusive character cards, one paper and another printed on shiny plastic. 

Madoka nazomate3.jpg

Real escape games have been trending lately and this was a gentle introductory course for the real deal. Maybe we’ll try our luck at the Dangan Ronpa mystery next month? If you’re interested in participating and live in California, New People World in San Francisco's Japantown occasionally hosts events. Of course, we can’t guarantee that your run will end as happily as ours.