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My journey begins with a single string and washer envelope dropped in my letterbox. Unable to recognise the handwriting, I’m immediately intrigued. Upon opening it, I find a smaller, almost secret envelope. Inside is a black business card reading, ‘Our Destination is No Longer a Place.’ Directed by Alex Palmer, The Lucky Ones is a totally online immersive experience which drags you into the centre of a thrilling storyline where the outcome is totally dependent on how you play the game.
Leading up to this fateful week, I fill out a google form which I can only compare with a personality test. This “Trial Questionnaire” is allegedly for an award winning membership scheme (who strangely use google forms rather than their own custom page.) The questions are all mortality centered, often with an intrusively personal edge. I have to take a tea break when asked what I’d do to a toddler version of Adolf Hitler. Regardless of all my efforts, I am rejected from an opportunity to find ultimate happiness as a member of Capital Experience… Or am I?
The Lucky Ones requires you to open up a week of your life to an innovative group of creatives who will swiftly turn it upside down. I will admit, it feels odd giving your number and email address to a company intent on injecting a bit of adventure into your mundane life. Riptide have outdone themselves in ensuring that you spend a few days of your life rushing to grab a pen and paper anytime you receive a notification.
You have to apply yourself to the experience as the mysteries aren’t always easy to crack. The puzzles force you to rack your brain and grab a notepad and if you’re not paying attention to detail, you’ll slip up. I begrudgingly had to text the gamemaster known only to me as “Max” for hints as some of the codes were so complex, an hour later I was still scratching my head.
The intricacies of this project are by no means small and Max Palmer’s web design is brilliantly unsettling. From coded text messages to cryptic whatsapp photos, you must sift through clues to complete your latest task and assist the neo-Luddites with their mission against technology. The content design fluctuates between sophisticated looking business pages to dark-web-esque sites with shady overtones. There’s even an Anonymous style video with a blurred out face explaining the political movement embedded in the storyline.
Online interactive storytelling emerged at the birth of the internet and it seems that the escape-room genre will push its boundaries till they break. At any moment you could receive a phone call which will give you a whole new opportunity to prove yourself to “the Cause”. Chris O’Connor’s writing embodies a mild anti-capitalist rhetoric and I would have loved to see a deeper emphasis on the socio-political elements applicable to our own turbulent times. The threat of AI and how our personal information can get twisted against us is all at play here, but I feel the genuine threat of corporations could be a far scarier focus.
If you think you’ve got the brain for a week of online mystery solving, The Lucky Ones is a hell of a way to challenge your intuition and nosedive into an innovative immersive experience.
The Lucky Ones is playing Online until the 28th May. For more information and tickets, see The Riptide’s website.