One worry has kept me awake at night: What happened to Wonderland after Alice returned home? I’m about to find out, as me and my fellow rabbit hole divers play the part of Alice and try to save Wonderland from the pending doom.
You’ll be grinning like the Cheshire cat.
We are greeted by the White Rabbit, who isn’t exactly happy about our last visit, as we managed to break his watch and distort time in Wonderland. Oops. So here we are, trying to make amends by solving puzzles and finding the missing pieces of the watch to restore time in Wonderland. The choices we make determine how the story goes and if we fail to solve a puzzle, a time loop will send us back to the beginning.
Saving Wonderland is a fresh take on online escape rooms where storytelling meets gameplay. The live adventure game is played simultaneously on Zoom and on a mobile phone. During the game you get to interact with all your favourite Wonderland characters. The visual style is contemporary with a bit of cool steampunk thrown in. Just like in the story, the familiar soon turns peculiar, and you go through the game feeling like you’ve drank a bit more than you actually have.
The American cast of seven did a wonderful job in bringing a fresh new twist to the iconic characters. The White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat guided us through the mission, while the other characters were connected to the quizzes. White Queen’s chess set, Mad Hatter’s tea party, Caterpillar’s riddles and Red Queen’s card soldiers all played their part in the storyline. I must confess that I gave deliberately a wrong answer just to hear the Red Queen scream: “Off with her head!” Each scene was beautifully constructed and scripted, and as the time went on, the tasks got harder and harder.
In addition to questions that determinate what happens next in the story, there were different types of quizzes: memory, logic, speed and accuracy. The players communicate via the Zoom chat to share clues and work out a strategy. It was a handful simultaneously try to sip wine, chat with the players, watch the actors’ dialogue and answer quizzes on the mobile. At least there wasn’t a dull moment during the show.
The Gamiotics game tool allows audiences to play along with live theatrical content and impact the narrative. Whether Gamiotics is the future of interactive entertainment as pitched, remains to be seen. At least I have never seen a Zoom experience like this with a strikingly visual narrative and constantly changing presenter views. It was difficult to believe that everything on screen was really happening live.
As for the actual game in Saving Wonderland, it doesn’t really matter if you win or lose. Either way, you’ll be grinning like the Cheshire cat. Who wants to leave Wonderland anyway. We’re all mad here.