The second trip to the Vault Festival in London so far this year, this time to take part in Fire Hazard Games latest event, Jekyll and Hyde. I and another member of our three-strong team had previously enjoyed ‘The Hunted Experience’, so were intrigued to see what this latest, slightly darker event had in store.
Jekyll and Hyde is a combination of immersive theatre with mobile enhanced scavenger hunt style gameplay. Make sure you have plenty of charge available on your phone during the event as you’ll be using your mobile a lot. Since this event has a long run and may appear again, I’ll try and keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. There may be spoilers around the show/game mechanic, but any details of the narrative will hopefully be sparse and vague.
As is clear from the start and pre-show description, something happened the previous evening and it’s up to you and the rest of your team to try and piece together what happened and why. You can do this event solo or in groups of 2 or 3. After checking in we made our way to the first location which worked as a kind of “tutorial level”, introducing us to the game mechanics played through a combination of a printed map and mobile-friendly website.
We also met and interacted with a couple of characters. We felt this section could have done with a bit more explanation as despite completing what we needed to do, which wasn’t initially obvious, we did end up waiting around for a while to let everyone in this 50+ intake catch up before the first major scene.
This scene was fun though and properly introduced us to the three main characters that we’d meet during the event, their motivations, and what they were hoping for us, the poor souls that had lost their memory from our previous evening. However, it was our path to uncover the lost memories and the choices we might find when we finally remembered.
The next 90 minutes was a fun and more traditional free-flowing scavenger hunt. We always had an array of locations to go to next and questions to be answered to unlock the next memory. As a game mechanic, it was easy to pick up and thankfully for us a great deal more accessible than ‘The Hunted Experience’.
There were over 20 locations where your memories could be unlocked, each offering a different piece of the narrative of the previous night’s events. Since myself and the rest of our team have all too sadly plenty of real-life experience trying to put together our experiences of nights out, we were all too ‘au fait’ with this type of scenario. We managed to unlock 14 memories at a fairly leisurely pace with a KFC break in between. Other groups we’d met along the way decided to spend a bit of their time in one of the many pubs on our travels.
Each memory that you unlock gives you a choice about your previous night’s actions. Our team decided pretty much from the start that we’d embrace our Mr Hyde persona and go for maximum carnage. I can’t go into details, but we got up to all sorts of nefarious activities. Obviously you can choose to not be quite as evil as we ended up.
This freedom of choice and freedom of the next location to visit helps the branching structure of the mobile game-driven narrative and adds to the immersion as you become less and less likely to run into other groups. Towards the end of the 90 minutes of the main game, you’re instructed to head back to a central location to find out your team’s final judgement, obviously based on the decisions we’d made during the evening. Leading to one final choice to make.
We all had a great amount of fun playing Jekyll and Hyde, however, there are a couple of things that we personally felt could enhance the game even further. Firstly, and this is clearly a case of FOMO on our part, but it always feels like you’ve missed out on something when you can’t complete all of it, Obviously the game isn’t designed for 100% completion, but we’d love to know more about the memories that we had failed to recover after the event. Somewhat related, but being ‘slightly’ competitive we’d have liked to see how we stacked up against other groups in our session.
The three actors we encountered through the event were all brilliant. Dr Frey, our team’s highlight. Sadly, we didn’t get to meet Dr’s. Edmonton and Goldmann along the way, but both were great during the opening and final scenes. It would have been nice to have had more actor interactions during the event, but I’m sure that was due more to the route we chose to take. Also the choice we took following that one mid-game interaction didn’t seem to have any impact on the overarching narrative,
Jekyll and Hyde was a lot of fun, and it was great to explore the Waterloo area despite the inclement weather. We’ll obviously be keen to see what future events Fire Hazard Games have to offer, but for now, this run of Jekyll and Hyde is at the Vault Festival until 22nd March. Well worth checking out.