WE ARE always told to peel ourselves away from our screens and get outdoors. Now Escape Hunt has brought us the best of both.

The craze of rainy-day activities welcomed escape rooms to Oxford’s Westgate Centre last year.

The concept sees teams given 60 minutes to solve a series of mind-boggling puzzles in order to ‘escape’ the room and, in most cases, save the world.

But the most recent addition to the Escape Hunt Oxford games takes teams out into the city in what is the perfect amalgamation of fast-paced fiction, techy tasks, and heart-racing history all rolled into a ‘top-secret spy mission’.

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Operation Mindfall utilises the streets of Oxford as teams are given 120 minutes to save the world from a deadly virus soon to be activated by ‘Spider Tech’.

Teams of up to four are handed an iPad and a fairly heavy action pack. The mission: to find the anti-virus and destroy Spider Tech’s server HQ in Oxford.

The Oxford Times:

From the get-go the pressure was on and did not let off, partly due to the two-hour time limit but mainly because my team couldn’t work out how to turn the obsessively gallant theme tune off or even down on our iPad for the task’s entirety.

The first task an observation test in spotting when one building was built and entering it into the iPad, the next finding a specific monument nearby and typing up the tribute. It was then the third challenge in which my team came a cropper close to the Ashmolean, bungling through our spy gear for a flicker of inspiration.

Thankfully, we were given a hint which may have hindered our point scoring minimally but were on our merry way.

The approximate 2km walk took us through less-travelled city streets as well as to areas such as Oxford’s Castle Quarter where we almost burst into the background of a Shakespeare production, having had our heads in an iPad and minds on the prize.

One very welcome stop was at a well-liked bakery that was very close to closing for the day, and having asked for a 'magic mocha' – being handed our next clue as well as a host of free pastries.

This was despite the manager telling our slightly hyped-up team to "respect the calm". I blame the aforementioned noisy iPad.

The excitement, however, was shortlived as our mission was abruptly cut short in a cruel technical ‘glitch’ that cancelled our game on the last task. As a result, we were unable to complete our quest, despite confidently having 30 minutes to go... and we did not save the word.

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The anticlimax did spoil the fun, however. The previous 90 minutes had proved a perfect group activity, mixing maths, riddles, history and fiction.

The team at Escape Hunt Oxford were hugely apologetic over the fault and game developers have found and addressed the issue.

This latest spin on the escape room craze is entertaining, exhilarating, and reasonably priced at £45 a team.

Escapehunt.com/uk/Oxford

NAOMI HERRING 4/5