‘Narrative lead’ is a bit of an understatement
“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”
In 2052, you have been recruited to join Rainbow Galactic’s team of astronauts under the Project Delta Agreement. Your mission is to fly onboard spaceship Venus and carry biological experiments on other terrestrial planets to achieve space colonisation through genetic engineering. Will you be able to revolutionise the entire human race or will the project’s dark secrets consume you first?
Conveniently located, at least for us, in Bermondsey, we arrived at the Biscuit Factory the allotted fifteen minutes early. The location is slightly strange (and ironically just around the corner from The Room That Shan’t Be Named); you have to be buzzed through a gate into the complex, and then again into the premises. Once in the spacious, if rather sparse waiting room, we were given a brief overview of our mission, along with identities, and our all-important team photo was taken in preparation for our launch into space.
AI Escapes classes their games as “narrative, immersive adventures”, and the emphasis of Project Delta is very much on the story, not merely on solving puzzles. As we received our briefing, we were warned that not only would we need to solve the puzzles and complete our mission, but that we would also need to follow the story and answer a question at the end, and that this would also be a key to your success.
Gord and I haven’t had a chance to experience AI Escapes’ other room, Kill M.A.D., yet. This particular room had been chosen by another member of the team who had done Kill M.A.D., and I had no idea what to expect, other than the fact that you’re allotted 100 minutes to complete your mission, and that the difficulty rating was “Maniac,” but he was very excited for it.
Once inside the room itself, the set was impressive, but it quickly became apparent that game play would be linear, which I, personally, am not the biggest fan of in a team of more than two or three. However, because of the emphasis on the story, rather than feel like a third wheel trying to help solve a puzzle, I spent the time investigating my surroundings and immersing myself in the narrative. This helped later on, and I was able to have one or two moments of brilliance – my only real contribution to the team.
Because you never know just what direction a room will take, our team has a habit of solving puzzles, and moving on quickly, and occasionally we can become rather frustrated when forced to slow down. Because of how integral the story is to not only solving the puzzles, but also successfully completing the mission, this game can’t be played that way. There were moments where the design of the game brought you to a halt, and you had no choice but to stand and watch a video or listen to a sound clip. This left the majority of our team feeling flat; I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed it.
A true 3rd Gen room, there was not a padlock in sight. The puzzles were varied, and very much tied into the story. They were also on the more complex side, as you would expect when a company classes its difficulty as ‘Maniac,” but they were all very logical, and therefore eventually solvable, particularly if you really took the time to observe your surroundings. Some of these puzzles were multi step, so despite the linear nature of the game, everyone could eventually get involved in most of the challenges, though there were points where one or even two of us felt extraneous to the team. There were a variety of clever elements, and I really enjoyed some of the tech and the custom props.
One challenge was almost like a computer game, and I have to say, I wasn’t a fan. It could be simply be because I’m not a great fan of video games, but as I wasn’t needed to help, I could do nothing but watch. This particular challenge also felt like it was there purely to waste time, which was a bit frustrating at this particular point in the game.
AI Escapes are really going for full immersion with Project Delta, and have spent a lot of time to truly bring you into the world. The set was sparse, but well designed, and there was not a single red herring, or unnecessary piece; everything had a purpose, even down to the jackets you were provided with. The room was well laid out, and there was a flow. There were also some really clever plot twists and few little moments of delight for me when the set did something unexpected.
The story, however, is where Project Delta has really tried to differentiate itself. As a massive theatre nerd, I happen to be a fan of the story aspect of a room, but this one was a bit much, even for me. Don’t mistake me, it is excellent, but like much Science-Fiction, overly complex (I’m looking at you, Predestination).
Clues, should you need them, are delivered by the ship’s onboard computer, so as to never break the immersion. Unfortunately, we managed to crash a tablet on the first challenge, and our GM had to come in to reset this, breaking the immersion anyway. I can’t really complain about this though, as we crashed it by trying to enter a code too quickly, which we were warned about.
Our GM herself was friendly, and very enthusiastic. She is clearly passionate about the room (I think she may have even been the owner) but this manifested in a debrief that took 30 minutes, as she pointed out elements of the story that we may have missed (most of it I hadn’t), and walked us through places where we could have saved more time, and the process became a bit tedious.
Gord and I have mixed feelings on this room: As I’ve said before, I liked it, but Gord, not so much. I loved the immersive aspect, and following the story, which I think enhanced my enjoyment of it. Project Delta is one of those games that players will either love, or they will find frustrating and perhaps a bit let down at the end. If you are prepared to slow down, and take your time to really appreciate the story, then I would recommend booking, as it is definitely an experience.
Team: 4 players – escaped in 81:33
Address: Unit K002, The Biscuit Factory, 100 Drummond Road, London SE16 4DG