It’s hard to classify the Plymouth Point episode of the Isklander Trilogy in traditional terms, but “an interactive, fourth wall breaking thriller with great immersion” comes pretty close. As a multiplayer experience that unfolds online but transcends the boundaries of its own game environment, it made for some excellent evening entertainment.
The only setup to the game that you need is that you’re part of an online Residents Watch meeting for the Plymouth Point complex, which kicks off as soon as everyone is logged into the game. When you do, fellow resident Katherine Stewart chimes in with her concerns about fellow resident Ivy, who has been helping her out but suddenly went silent and appears to be missing. Katherine isn’t terribly tech-savvy, so she asks us as fellow residents to look into this.
What follows is a rabbit hole adventure that quickly takes you outside of the confines of the Residents Watch application that allows for video and text chat. You find Ivy on Facebook, as if she was a real person, dive into her personal details, and uncover a plot that quickly has you worried for her well-being.
As you search for clues through Google maps, corporate websites, YouTube and even automated phone systems, a secret society type of conspiracy begins to unravel – and playing as a group you feel like you’re right in the middle of it. As you hack into email boxes and break into restricted sections of websites, you quickly forget that this was all content that was custom made for the experience you’re having – a testament to how well produced the game is.
We won’t go into too much detail about the plot as that would ruin the fun, but we had a blast being the collective protagonist of our very own thriller that was like something in a Douglas Preston/Dan Brown novel. The way that fiction and reality blend together was something quite unique, and to be able to share the experience long-distance is a benefit in a time where travel is still restricted. You’re cooperatively trying to solve things, but Katherine also acts as a built-in hint system, throwing out suggestions at somewhat regular intervals. It’s enough to make sure you don’t get completely stuck, while still giving you the sense that it’s you that’s uncovering the mystery.
One thing that we’d suggest is turning off Google’s search/auto-complete suggestions prior to playing. It’s definitely not game-breaking if you don’t as we never saw anything we weren’t already looking into, but the experience is even more immersive if you feel like you’re looking into something no one else has looked into before you. Google is too smart for its own good sometimes.
You can find out more at https://isklander.com/, which includes details on two additional chapters that are part of a trilogy. Plymouth Point is a great starting point though, with a blend of pre-recorded actors, live online content and player participation that comes together as a unique augmented reality experience crafted by Swamp Motel.