Strange Bird Immersive (Based In Houston, TX, USA)
◣ GAME'S SPECS
⏲️ 90 minutes duration.
🔢 Accommodating up to 8, public booking.
📝 Optional light interaction, with a puzzle to solve as a group at the end.
📝 Note potential time difference between your location and the host's (check time zone).
🛒 If you BOOK SHOW due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout out! ;)
◣ MATTSTER'S TAKE
💪 Difficulty: N/A, but for final "mystery", it should hit you as quite obvious if you paid attention.
🔢 Ideal Team Size: N/A, but I recommend booking among friends to promote a comfortable interactive environment.
🤷♂️ Best Fit For: Anyone who's in for a peculiar and intriguing show. (NOT an escape room, but quality entertainment.)
🍵 Boils Down To: Immersive theater supported by an all-talented cast, each bringing unique elements to their respective character, ultimately culminating into one fascinating show. Also features a very light puzzle--it's more of a bonus.
😃 Overall Rating: One of the more memorable experience I've done since the world's turned upside down. Even with the lack of true puzzles (which are usually my focus), "Rook" transformed my impression of what remote platform is capable of, which is apparently a very powerful medium for thespian arts as well! I'd recommend purchasing a ticket, but due to surging popularity, most spots are already sold out. (UPDATE: KEEP CHECKING FOR NEW DATES/TIMES BEING ADDED!)
OOOH. ME LIKEY.
THIS JOINS "RECOMMENDED" RANK!
Something isn’t right at Strange Bird Immersive. Our doors are closed, no strangers to greet. And Adrian Rook, secretary to the Raven Queen, has gone missing... We need you to change the narrative. You are cordially invited to Strange Bird's virtual Open House. Meet unusual tenants, witness strange events, and help us locate our beloved Mr. Rook.
Storytelling • All Eyes On Rook
Raven Queen's beloved assistant Adrian Rook has gone missing for weeks, can you come help locate the missing man? A seemingly simple mystery of a missing person case at first glance, the story of "The Strange Secret Of Mr. Adrian Rook" turns out to be something beyond. And much like the title suggests, the strange thing is, his disappearance conundrum is but one small part of the complete narrative.
Invited to the virtual open house of Strange Bird Immersive, participants get an intimate greet-and-meet with six pre-selected tenants of the business complex, perhaps personally handpicked by owner The Raven Queen herself. From seductive hostess of unit 411--not sure what it is, but definitely not a speakeasy--to pragmatic medical professional, and even one bizarre intoxicated welder, the roster of proprietors spans a wide spectrum, and each exudes their own brand of eccentricity. 'Tis a night of a true mixer.
What I expected was for each individual to dispense valuable leads for finding the man of the hour; what I got instead was often random but entertaining summary of each business's passionate project. But somewhere along the line, the narrative converge--they all miss dear Adrian. Some may begrudgingly half admit the sentiment, but they do. "Rook" is ultimately a tale about friendship, connection, and our innate desire to embrace and support each other. Corny as it may sound, perhaps this is a message we need most in a painfully divisive world.
Though on rare occasions the script seems to pivot a hard turn, requiring the actor to go from blithe to grieved in a matter of seconds, the plot worked for the most part considering the narrow 15-minute window to introduce, develop, and conclude, all whilst leaving enough room for the artist to fully perform. To the least, the main story bolsters a fantastic playground for the audience to immerse themselves in the eclectic avian universe for the next 90 minutes.
Setup • Strange Bird Soars High Above Hardship
Part of why I admire this extremely cleverly executed immersive experience is the ingenious setup. Despite stringent business measures and shutdowns to curb COVID transmissions, the Strange Bird team rises from the ashes and creates an immersive drama masterpiece against the odds.
Taking full advantage of Zoom's capability to run several breakout rooms at the same time, "Rook" moves waves of guests at staggered times from one "business" (or scene) to the next, enabling the company to run several shows, literally simultaneously, in the most cost-effective (and did I mention ingenious) manner possible. While each individual actor may run their portion of the show remotely and even geographically separate from each other, the overall open house premise cements all loose pieces together into one seamless, coherent experience, and an extremely stylish one to boot.
From the consumer's point of view, having something new to feast the senses on every quarter of an hour is an interesting enough concept for most to try. Having a wide array of subjects, from neuroscience to photography and all that's in between, relatively-rapid-fired at you, it's hard not to be entertained from the sheer variety. With your mind gleefully and continually distracted, and maybe a drink or two in hand, this makes for a decent 90-minute carefree escape.
Of note, the somewhat tagged on "mystery" component is more of a bonus afterthought than the main attraction. Those seeking a true puzzle to solve will regrettably be missing the point. What really happened to to Adrian Rook is not only easy to figure out, but almost a bit too farfetched to be of logical significance. It is, however, an important plot device to drive home the writers' not-so-hidden moral: Cherish those around you while you still can. Life can be so fickle.
Production • The Perfect Ensemble
Though the experience takes place entirely over Zoom, Strange Bird's dedication to elegantly produced theatrics remains apparent, and much effort is put into each individual set, no matter how limited the broadcast may be through the limits of a digital screen. Flickering lights, fuming smoke, and even an unsolicited PowerPoint presentation (everyone's favorite, I'm sure!), they have more than a few tricks up their sleeves to effectively draw the patrons in.
I especially want to give some well-deserved praise to the fantastic, fantastic cast. Firstly, each actor dons full costume and makeup, never once compromising the integrity of the theater arts, whether it be in person or socially distanced otherwise. Next, the cast's seasoned ability to engage and interact with the players--and to know when to disengage with the more shy of the bunch (as it was the case with me)--helps tailor the ideal session for each guest.
Perhaps most impressively, these actors really CAN act. Each entertainer plays one of the six diverse personalities with their own flair. Some play it straight-faced as their roles require; others channel inner temptresses with their most alluring demeanor. Even when the script demands an abrupt transition of emotion, the actors handle the materials with grace and sell the scene. The innocent, pure, and almost child-like Mr. Rook is even seen shedding a single but impactful tear on camera. And to know that he probably has to cry on demand for 5 times in one night--that's some masterful acting!
"The Strange Secret Of Mr. Adrian Rook" is curious and cute short story enacted by an extremely talented cast, and by far the most non-escape room experience I've ever taken great pleasure in. The lack of puzzle challenges didn't bother me, as I was too busy being in awe of one personable performance after another. Disjointed by 6 separate accounts and yet also extraordinarily cohesive at the same time, "Rook" is not only a unique byproduct of 2020's pandemic, but also an artistic--and optimistic--reflection of the world as we know it today.
In fantasia veritas,
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.
⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ Speed code for on-site search: SBIRook