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Arts & Culture

Universal’s new interactive game, Legendary Truth, shows us a brave new world of theme park experiences

Live Active Cultures

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Priority one for next year should be a website rebuilt in HTML5, or better yet native iOS and Android apps for easier in-park usage – I’d happily pay a few bucks for one.

Story

The narrative starts strong with a series of encoded emails involving a mysterious codex connected to famous thinkers like Leonardo DaVinci. But the in-park tasks frequently felt like Pavlovian fetch quests reminiscent of primitive adventure games, and increasingly seemed divorced from the elaborate backstory spun on the website. The theatrical highlight was an interactive “interrogation” of Capt. Lazy Bastard (portrayed with pipe-smoking, beer-swilling relish by A&D creative manager Rick Spencer), but I never connected his evasive answers to subsequent in-game events. By the finale event – which featured a cryptic announcement that the game continues beyond Halloween and free fortune cookies filled with further cryptograms – I felt like I was trapped in a mid-series season of Lost, swimming in exposition without dramatic action. The final revelation wasn’t exactly “drink more Ovaltine,” but I look forward to the plot moving forward as it enters its next phase.

Logistics

Much like HHN itself, Legendary Truth was a victim of its own success, with more than 1,600 participants, double last year’s number. Gameplay was manageable during the initial weekends, but aggressive HHN discounts made October “off-peak” nights (when game events were conducted) as busy or busier than “peak” Saturdays, with 100-plus-minute waits by mid-evening. Under such conditions, tasks requiring large groups to visit all eight houses in an evening inadvertently incentivized exploitation of Guest Assistance Passes, which are intended for disabled visitors. More important, they kept players standing in queues when they could’ve been spending money. In 2014, give me more street-based games I can play while buying beer – which is what Halloween is really all about.

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