Submarine Channel

Online escape room + Immersive theater + Detective Story = The Mermaid’s Tongue

It’s difficult to pin down what The Mermaid’s Tongue exactly is.

The new online adventure by Swamp Motel is something in between a virtual escape room, a dashing scavenger hunt and an immersive theater play with a sprinkle of a click-and-point adventure game. It’s also a veritable testament to the fact that online experiences can be as creative and innovative as the offline experiences they’re replacing in this time of social distancing.

In a nutshell, what you and your remotely-connected friends will be doing (the game is playable by a group of up to six people) is trying to get hold of an arcane artifact, the eponymous Mermaid’s Tongue, before a powerful crime syndicate finds it. The quest kicks off during a placid life drawing class on Zoom. Of course, things take a strange turn very quickly and soon you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of dark conspiracies, murders and cryptic messages.

Racing against the clock (the game lasts around 90 minutes), you’ll have to crack passwords, hack into CCTV cameras and even outbid art dealers during an auction. One of the most striking features of The Mermaid’s Tongue is the way it leverages the narrative possibilities of the simple act of browsing the internet, whisking players from one corner of the Web to the other.

After having slogged through endless Zoom meetings and business websites for the entire day, I found it very refreshing to see those otherwise boring virtual spaces turn into the wondrous sets of a thrilling adventure.

The Mermaid's Tongue (Credit: Swamp Motel)

The Mermaid’s Tongue (Credit: Swamp Motel)

The Mermaid’s Tongue is a loose, standalone sequel to Plymouth Point, another compelling online adventure crafted by Swamp Motel in the midst of COVID-19 season one.

Now that physical events are once again out of the question in several countries, both experiences are a great way of spending a couple of hours with your friends while staying at home.

Pre-COVID 19, Swamp Motel was solely creating live experiences. The pandemic, said the company’s creative director Ollie Jones in an interview to This Week London, nearly finished the business off initially. Immediately, they started to think about how they could pivot to online.

“We thought there was something cool in discovering a password by investigating someone’s social media,” said Jones, “Simultaneously we were reading about some fairly bonkers conspiracy theories and everything spiraled out from there.” I’m sure glad it did.

The Mermaid’s Tongue is on until 6 Nov. You can book your ticket here

Credit header image: Swamp Motel




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