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Looking for a more unusual way to practice your Russian skills? Why not try a quest?
Квесты в Питере / Escape Rooms in St Pete’s
In recent years a new phenomenon has been taking off in countries all over the world, Escape Rooms. These are live, real life, interactive games in which you find yourself locked in a room with a team of friends and are given a time limit (normally one hour) to solve a series of puzzles in the room in order to gain your freedom. Often the different rooms and puzzles have a specific theme (time travel, spy story, jail break, etc.). Russia has not escaped from the rising popularity of escape rooms. The Russian name for this type of game is Квесты (Quests) and over the last year and a bit many different quest companies have popped up all over St Petersburg.
It may seem a bit unorthodox, but quests can actually be a great way of testing and improving your language skills. The need to achieve an objective under a strict time limit really helps you to stop worrying about mistakes and the themed puzzles help you understand new vocabulary you encounter during the quest based on context. If this tempts you to put together a team and test your skills, have a look below for recommendations on two companies to look at for great quests.
Нора Кролика / Rabbit Hole
For sheer variety you best bet for quests in St. Petersburg is Rabbit Hole. If you take a look at their website (Don’t forget to set your location as St Petersburg) you’ll be blown away by the sheer number of different rooms they have. Want to explore an alchemist’s laboratory? Pull off an art heist? Survive the zombie apocalypse? Travel through time? You can do all this and more in Rabbit Hole’s quests
Some of the quests are traditional escape rooms where you have to solve puzzles to escape within an allotted time limit, others add an extra element of drama by adding actors into the game. The exact roles of these extras depends on the exact quest you’re doing but in general they’re there to increase your immersion in the game world.
The prices of their quests change depending on time slot rather than the number of players so gathering a group and heading over after lessons is a great way to save yourself some money.
Rabbit Hole are able to offer a wide variety of quests because they have a large number of locations so when looking through their site, remember to check where the games take place (go to the page for that quest and scroll down until you see the map). If you want to search for quests in a specific location then you can turn on a filter at the top of the main page. You can also use filters to search for games by recommended number of players and difficulty.
Взаперти / Locked In
Another option for quest lovers is “Locked In”. This company is a little smaller than Rabbit hole (they only have two locations, one behind Kazan Cathedral and one on Ulitsa Marata) but their quests are great in terms of quality. They are packed with interactivity and interesting puzzles; the time travel quest at the location behind Kazan Cathedral in particular has a great “twist” part way through. Despite the company’s relatively small size there still have a good range of games with different themes, from the aforementioned time travel quest and a quest set in a secret bunker, to quests set aboard a nuclear icebreaker and within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
For fans of mixology there’s even a couple of “drinking quests” at the Ulitsa Marata location. During these two quests, one set in the Wild West and the other in prohibition era America, you’ll not only be solving tricky puzzles but also trying some interesting, original alcoholic beverages.
Locked In’s pricing structure is also based on peak and off-peak times, so you’re better off looking for a weekday afternoon slot.
Before you start a quest at any of the places in this list, the scenario will be explained by a member of staff. These guys run through this information with players multiple times a day, every day of the week, so they have a tendency to speak quickly. If you want to avoid confusion, then make sure you tell your staff guide that Russian isn’t your first language and ask them to explain everything carefully and understandably. It’s also worth taking at least one person who is very confident in their Russian skills with you so that they can explain the scenario to the others should there be anything that’s difficult to understand. If you get stuck, it’s usually possible to request a clue from a staff member during the game via intercom. Having a confident Russian speaker with for these situations is also a good idea but not essential if you think you can get by without clues. Some quests will be mostly logic based and therefore suitable for all levels of Russian, whilst others might require more reading and listening and therefore be a bit harder. If you’re not sure which quest is right for you, you can always write to or call either of the two companies listed above via the contact details listed on their websites.