A LOT to take in!
Ted Olsen is an internationally renowned scientist, his quest for developing the formula for nuclear fusion also known as Cold Fusion, will help power humankind into the next century….. but what if his formula were to fall into the wrong hands?
Project M is one of the many companies that has appeared during the Covid pandemic, where people from other walks of life now turn their hand to puzzle design (show offs). The first game released by Project M is Cold Fusion which is a massive Alternate Reality Game (ARG) that takes place all over the internet.
If you’re not familiar with an ARG, the easiest way to describe it is like a massive hunt around the internet where you are finding pieces of information that you need to solve your mystery. Some pages/information will have been created purely for your mission, while other information will be very much from the real world – it all gets a bit blurred.
We signed up for Cold Fusion and it all started rather innocently with a very standard but professional looking email from a firm of solicitors. This email gave us our starting point, but after that we were on our own.
Project M have a time limit on how long you can play this game, seven days, so only sign up to play when you’re happy you can commit the time to it. There is a lot to get through so don’t leave this game to the last minute as you may struggle. It’s probably worth noting that you can purchase an additional weeks’ extension if you run out of time.
We’d never played any ARG games prior to this pandemic but now we’re starting to see them quite regularly. This isn’t a bad thing, they’re a great format for creating an expansive world, although they do seem to appear mostly in the realm of conspiracy theory stories.
Cold Fusion starts with the email, then directs you to Facebook (one person in your team will need to have a Facebook account), but after that the whole of the internet becomes part of the gameplay, your challenge is working out where to go. Where we struggled with this game was that it needed to be solved in a mostly linear way, yet we managed to solve something out of order and this led us down a path that made the game very hard to play. This is the problem with ARG games, because there is so much information on the internet it is hard to know if you’re looking in the right place. In fairness to Project M, there was some guidance as to where to start, but as we couldn’t figure that out straight away, we moved on to the first thing we could solve.
There is no doubt that the team behind Project M have put a lot of work into this game, and they have worked very hard to create a story that has you questioning if parts of it could be real. There are videos, images, websites, documents, basically everything you could think of is contained in this game, just don’t be afraid to discount something because it looks important – there is a lot of reading in this game that is purely to drive the story forward.
With a bit more structure on where to go (signposting) we would have likely enjoyed this game more. We completed it in a little over three hours, which I gather is a good time, however this was done over two sittings and at one point we were close to quitting because we had solved things out of order. When we sat down to try and work it through again, we did find it played out better but there were a number of puzzles that frustrated us no end.
If you’re looking for a game with a range of puzzle types then Cold Fusion will certainly give you that. Observation, Audio, Video, Spatial awareness are all present here, and decoding plays a massive part in this game, but really this game will challenge your research skills the most. You need to be able to sift through reams of information to find what you want and then work out what to do with your solutions.
I mentioned decoding, and there is a lot of this to do. For us at least, it felt like the decoding went on for far too long and we found ourselves getting a little bored of this in the end. We were very relieved when we solved it and could move on, although looking back at it now there were shortcuts we could have taken, so it may not take you as long as it took us.
I talked earlier about signposting, and although it felt lacking in where to go next to get through the game, some of the puzzles themselves actually had some decent signposting contained within them to help you know how to solve the puzzle, at least where to look to be able to solve them.
Somehow we actually managed to complete the game without completing all the puzzles. We looked back at the clue system after the game and realised there were bits we didn’t even see because of the route we took through the game. There was one puzzle that we did see but could not solve, (it’s the type of puzzle that you either know, or you don’t) and in the end another blogger friend pointed us in the right direction from here as she had looked at the clue system.
Credit to Project M for doing something different with the clue system, but for us it just didn’t work. The clue system is set up as a Facebook group so if you’re stuck you can go in there and either post your question or read hints that they have already added. The problem we found was that we had to scroll through lots of answers/hints to get to what we needed, meaning we had insights into puzzles we hadn’t even encountered yet.
Personally we prefer the hint system where there is just a standalone page with expanding buttons so you can get what you need without seeing everything else. I think Project M have chosen the Facebook group option to make it feel more ‘real world’, like you have joined a secret group that only other investigators know about.
As much as we didn’t like the clue system, at times we had no choice but to rely on it fully. There was at least one puzzle that we had no chance of getting so had to basically take the answer for it, which is not something we like doing.
Reviewing this game was a hard one. A lot of work has gone into it, and there is a lot of game play with oodles of story. I think if we hadn’t got ‘lost’, we would have enjoyed it more. Saying that, if you’re looking for a game to really challenge you and have you questioning reality, then give this one a try.
We have spoken with the creators behind Cold Fusion and this game is ever-evolving so your experience will likely be different to ours. We’ve had a look and the Facebook group for clues has already been tidied up and is being monitored regularly, so this should be a lot of help to you should you need it.
- Pen and paper for note taking
- Facebook account (at least one person)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 3hr 15 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.