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Working through a puzzle. Photos: Hannah Manning

Adventure City Games breaks out of the escape room and onto the streets of Ottawa

By Hannah Manning on September 8, 2022





What do you do when escape rooms are closed, but you need an escape? Build an outdoor escape room adventure! After launching in Montreal, Adventure City Games has expanded to Ottawa, creating unique experiences that allow you to explore a city using your smartphone. The adventures are billed as a mix of treasure hunt, walking tour, and escape room all enjoyed in the great outdoors.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Ottawa with some out-of-town visitors, we put our problem-solving skills to the test. Our mission? Find Justine, the head of Canada’s secret affairs division, and warn her about an asteroid heading straight for Earth!

Getting everyone set up with the game was pretty straightforward: every player needs a fully charged smartphone to play along as you interact via an online “chat” with a special agent helping you with the case. After meeting at the designated spot, we were off! The adventure took us around the ByWard Market and Parliament Hill, covering about 2.5km over the course of an hour.

Local landmarks feature prominently in Adventure City Games Ottawa mission.

For those unfamiliar with Ottawa history, it might take a bit more puzzling to work through some clues, but we never had to take up the game’s offer of a hint. Our out of town guests enjoyed the interactive tour of Ottawa and came away with some fun facts they probably wouldn’t have otherwise learned.

The verdict? The mission was a fun way to spend an afternoon, and after having tried the Ottawa storyline, I’m interested in trying out some other missions in other cities. I’ve encountered more difficult puzzles in local escape rooms, but the scale and distance covered was new and exciting.

I connected with co-founder Benjamin Nguyen Duong by email to learn more about Adventure City Games, how they got started, and what’s in store for the future.

Apt613: How and when did Adventure City Games get started?

Benjamin Nguyen Duong: The project started in 2017 when I tried to book an escape room in Montréal, and there were no available spots in the coming days. Having the ability to play when we want was the trigger of Adventure City Games. We spent two years working on our platform and our first games in Montréal, and the official launch took place in May 2020 (during the pandemic).

What impact has the pandemic had on Adventure City Games? Has there been more interest from people in being able to do an outdoor activity similar to an escape room?

When the pandemic hit us, we decided to speed up the public launch because everything was closed (including regular escape rooms). We saw interest from people because everything was closed, and we were one of the only fun activities in Montréal.

Do you need to be good at escape rooms to play? Or very athletic to move around the city?

Our games are designed to be played by as many people as possible. There is no need to be athletic or an escape room expert. If you’re stuck, you can get hints. Also, you can do it at your own pace.

I see Montréal has a few games to choose from—are you planning on adding more games to Ottawa’s roster or expanding to more cities?

We are here to stay. So yes, we plan to add more games in Ottawa (cannot say when for the moment but not in 2022). It is very possible that we will also expand to other cities in 2023. Maybe outside of Canada.

Anything else Apt613 readers should know?

Yes! You can get 15% off with this secret code: OTTAWA15.

Adventure City Games can be played outdoors in the streets of Ottawa in a group of up to eight people. A smartphone is needed to play. Tickets are $18 per player and can be played up to 12 months after purchase, at any time (although daytime play is recommended to ensure you can read all the clues!).