Strange Bird Immersive – The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook [Review]

The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook is a Zoom-streamed immersive theater experience with a bit of mystery to solve, created by Strange Bird Immersive in Houston, TX.

Format

Style of Play: Zoom-streamed immersive theater experience with a bit of mystery

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection

Recommended Team Size: a group of friends

Play Time: 90 minutes

Price: $30 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Speakeasy owner/ bartender Vivian Mae looking fabulious.

Setup

The instructions suggested that we get dressed up and make ourselves drinks for our visit to a speakeasy, so we did just that… from the waist up at least. I have spent years perfecting the “video call mullet,” and quarantine has been my time to shine.

Lisa & David dressed for a night out, in front of Zoom.

Once the show began, it moved us between the different performers’ Zoom parlors roughly every 15 minutes. Each performer delivered a monologue that gave way to some conversational interaction.

Our only point of confusion happened before the experience began. We knew we were supposed to join a Zoom, but there was no Zoom to join in sight. While the setup eventually became clear, this created an unnecessary bit of bewilderment.

Dr. Newmark looking ready for science.

Story

The secretary to the Raven Queen is missing and has a secret to discover. But there is more to it than that. Adrian Rook is missing, but he is also missed… missed by the strange collection of inhabitants of Strange Bird Immersive. Some of them have stories, some have secrets, all have a connection to Adrian Rook. Their little community is out of whack. The lost interactions have left a hole. There is loneliness, sadness, and a wish for things to just get back to normal. The open house allowed us an opportunity to meet these characters, hear their stories and maybe help Adrian Rook, and thus help them all, get back to normal. Richard Burns

Adrian Rook dressed dapper.

Gameplay

In the end, it was on us to deduce what had happened to the missing Mr. Rook based on the clues hidden throughout the experience. It was not an escape room at all; it didn’t even bear passing resemblance to an escape room, digital or otherwise. This is neither criticism nor praise, simply a statement of fact.

Our team rather enjoyed the mystery. It was repeatedly signposted and entirely deducible. Unlike your typical escape room, the mystery wasn’t ever-present or even the point… the performances and conversational interactions were the heart of The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook.

Performances & Interaction

We had a good time being shunted from performer to performer. They delivered with sincerity and exquisite eye contact through the camera. As someone who had played The Man From Beyond, I especially enjoyed revisiting the protagonist Madame Daphne.

Madame Daphne dressed for an intriguing tarot reading.

That said, there were places where this experience strained. One of the most defining elements of The Man From Beyond is how adeptly the performer takes her time warming up the players, getting to know them, and figuring out who is game for interaction. Zoom is not the strongest medium for this style. The bold opening of The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook asked us to interact in a way that some of our teammates weren’t thrilled about.

This was also representative of the persistent struggle of The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook. All too often the opening up of interaction felt too sudden. I love to improvise with an actor and I found it thrilling. Many of my teammates would have appreciated more time to think before having to engage.

Reaction

Whether real-life or digital, a Strange Bird Immersive production is hype-inducing. There’s no way around it when you’re experiencing something from the company that created The Man From Beyond, a medium-redefining blend of escape room and immersive theater.

I loved having an excuse for getting semi-dressed up, mixing some fine drinks, and meeting the unusual characters that Strange Bird Immersive has created. Our team had a great time. We had folks eager to engage with the actors, detectives taking notes on the oddities surrounding the mystery, and observers who were keen to hang back and take it all in. I could easily see that not working out for a different group.

The Hivemind Reviewers were decidedly split between loving this game and not recommending it. In each case, this came down to what that person prefers in an experience. This style isn’t for everyone.

If you’re looking for an interesting, character-focused take on the Zoom-streamed experience, The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook is worth a shot. If you are looking for an escape room, a sequel to The Man From Beyond, or you’re expecting Strange Bird Immersive to completely redefine the Zoom-streamed gaming medium, this will fall far short of your expectations. Lower your hype.

I found the characters funny, yet vulnerable. You could sense the friendship in their small group community. And then the post game players-only Zoom chat they provided allowed me to connect with my own friends. Some that I hadn’t seen in over a year. Attending the Strange Bird open house and helping reconnect Adrian Rook with his friends ended with me doing the same with mine, and I felt, for a bit, that things were back to normal. – Richard Burns

If you’re planning on playing, pick the right group of friends, go in with an open mind, a nice top, and a good drink. It was pleasant to change things up for an evening.

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