Review: Agents of the Eye: Operation Dankworth, Riptide/Deer Shed Festival
3.0Overall Score

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Agents of the Eye (AOTE) is a new online experience from Riptide and Deer Shed Festival. One of a growing set of organisations offering interactive games and escape-rooms-in-a-box; it’s clear there is a market for this type of entertainment. On stay-at-home orders as we have been, more fun has had to come to us and Riptide (ever the innovators) have responded. As a veteran of escape-rooms and someone who considers themself a skilled online sleuth, I knew I was the target audience of just such a game. 

The booking website is functional and enticing, giving away just enough information to make you want to buy the game without spoiling it for you. It also suggests that Operation Dankworth is the first title from AOTE and that more will follow, great news for my fellow detectives. 

When I receive my Evidence Pack in the post I am surprised at the level of detail. An otherwise nondescript box is stamped with warnings and contains four numbered envelopes, a sticker with the AOTE symbol on and a letter describing my “mission”. To give any more away would be to ruin the fun of playing, so I’ll refrain from going into more detail here. I will simply say that the forensic evidence bags are a nice touch. I feel like a spy. 

Once into the game, the websites I must search are a mix of real and very slick fictional ones, with a good mix of familiar and obscure titles. The characters could be real people and at first it’s hard to tell. I’m a millennial and I consider myself to be tech-savvy and yet I still struggle to locate all the facts needed. You might even need to create additional social media profiles to access everything you want to investigate. It could be a bit of a pain if you only planning on playing this type of game once. 

Actors play the characters we meet along the way naturalistically and clearly — this is important when we’re listening for clues! I’d like to name them, but despite my investigative skills I can’t find their names listed anywhere (all adding to the illusion of the enterprise). 

I was fully immersed in the game while I played it and definitely enjoyed making use of my well-honed interrogation skills; though I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I was playing as part of a group. I’m sure I also would have asked for fewer clues from “Terminal”- the program into which you enter your answers. I particularly struggled with the final clue and can’t help but feel that a group would more likely have a wider skill set, and find it easier. Having said that, I completed the game in just over an hour and spent five minutes making a cuppa during that time. If I was in a remote group and we’d paid £30 each for our own evidence kits, I’d be annoyed I’d spent so much on what would probably work out as a fairly short game. Then again if I was playing in a group with children, I might feel I’d gotten my money’s worth. 

I look forward to more offerings from Agents Of The Eye and hope that I find the next mission more difficult because I really enjoyed every minute I spent as an Agent. I like that I got to keep a couple of small mementoes from my experience too. 

If, like me, you like a bit of amateur sleuthing — Agents Of The Eye are one to watch.

Agents of the Eye is available online from 3rd April 2021. For more information and to purchase from Agents Of The Eye online.