I’m always looking for new creative things to do with friends in Ottawa. So as an avid fan of escape rooms, I was excited to try a similar type of group game offered by Big City Hunt. Big City Hunt offers group scavenger hunts in Ottawa along with many other locations across the globe where you and a few friends can try to find the locations sent on your phone.
The scavenger hunt began at the Supreme Court of Canada. Once there I loaded up the Big City Hunt website on my phone and entered my prepaid voucher number. Next I was asked to put in my team name, and the names and phone numbers of each of the other players. I played on a team of 3, so the three roles we had to pick from was team leader, the guru, and photographer. I decided as I would be photographing the experience all ready to go for the photographer role. Note: This review will be as spoiler-free as possible so that you can try it for yourself.
After taking our group photo, we the website would give a clue and you need to search for the answer. For example one of the clues was regarding one of the statues at the courthouse where you have to answer the multiple choice question once you have found the statue.
One small warning is because of all the construction going on around the Parliament Buildings on Wellington Street one of the entries where we needed to find a name was covered with scaffolding so we couldn’t see the answer.
As I was the photographer and the person running the game on my phone, I would get texts from Big City Hunt directing me to go to a website to submit photos, and I had all the clues also in another browser tab too. I highly suggest before you start the scavenger hunt to lower your phone photo quality. As one problem I faced is even with fast data plan my phone couldn’t upload the photo before the 5 minute timer ran out. After decreasing my phone’s camera settings it became much easier to successfully complete the photo challenges.
Big City Hunt allows you at times to pause the game if you need to take a break, giving you up to several days to pause the game and return to it if you wish. While the photo challenges all have a 5 minute time limit, I don’t believe there was a timer for the questions. Thus the main use to pause the game I’d image is to prevent a photo challenge from being sent.
There were 11 photo challenges, which were divided between doing silly poses (ie: recreate a scene from a movie), creative group shots (above is taking a group photo on a reflective surface that isn’t a mirror), or simply finding something (such an object that is a certain color).
The questions for the items to find downtown Ottawa are well designed. Despite being an Ottawa local, all of the questions but one I didn’t know the answers until I found the location. Typically the clues give some history of the area you need to go to, and there is a map to show you the area. Once you arrive at the spot, you select from one of the 4 multiple choice options.
Sadly a few times in the game I did notice we sent the correct answer and still got zero points, which seemed like a technical error as there was no visible timer between the scavenger hunt questions.
Big City Hunt is designed so that you can do it with large groups of up to 10 people, so it would be interesting to see if everyone would get a role in the larger groups. For my team, the guru got texted trivia questions, but they were my least favorite part of the scavenger hunt as they had nothing to do with Canada or what we were exploring. Questions were about British Sports and bugs among other random facts. While our poor team leader didn’t get sent a single activity or task to do. If you are playing Big City Hunt I strongly suggest having the person who starts Big City Hunt on their phone take the team leader and have a different person be the photographer to better divide the tasks.
In the end, despite having a few of our answers not count for points we still placed 2nd, beating 84% of the teams! Overall I highly enjoyed the experience and certainly would love to try another scavenger hunt on my phone.
I was impressed to discover that when you end the scavenger hunt, Big City Hunt sends a UBER code so that you can commute back to your car, as you do not end up anywhere near the start of the game.
This activity is best suited for Ottawa local as opposed to tourists, as you would need to use too much roaming data for loading all the various websites and uploading photographs. That being said if you are a tourist with an international data plan you will see lots of the tourist spots in Ottawa through this scavenger hunt. As a local, I loved exploring the city in a new way and I could see this activity being a fun date.