Fast Familiar – Bad Altitude [Hivemind Review]

Bad Altitude is a digital, narrative-driven light puzzle game created by Fast Familiar in the UK.

A bright pink interface for A.I. Air along with a airplane's console. An illustrated character named Rhys is on the screen.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Online game with point-and-click & audio elements

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: no time limit, about 60-minute play time

Price: £20 per team, up to 6 players

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Fast Familiar’s website describes this game as a cross between an interactive audio drama and an online puzzle game. There’s a custom interface with chat functionality, video, and files. There’s quite a bit of storyline, and you’ll solve puzzles to advance the narrative. It’s mainly an audio game, although there are graphics and animated illustrations that made it really come to life. All players are synchronized, so only one player has to enter each answer.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Bad Altitude kept me laughing for pretty much an hour straight. While the narrative was somewhat lighter in tone than that of Fast Familiar’s previous game, National Elf Service, I was impressed by the well-balanced comical representation of diverse characters and multidimensional storytelling. Every single element of the game was incredibly polished, and one particular document provided for a puzzle might be the funniest thing I’ve encountered yet in an online game.

If you approach this solely for the puzzles, you may find it to be somewhat light on content. If you approach it as a narrative experience, as it’s intended, it’s hilarious and robust, and the sprinkling of light puzzle interactions genuinely elevate (pun intended!) each scene. Other than a couple of small technical glitches we encountered, the gameplay and presentation was all very smooth, and I’m eager to see how Fast Familiar continues to innovate in this medium.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.
  • + Very good audio and video production
  • +/- Custom web interface that generally worked well, though one of our team had an ongoing problem with audio clip playback lagging many seconds behind everyone else
  • + An enjoyably bizarre sense of humor runs throughout the game
  • – Some puzzle mechanics weren’t especially creative or fun to execute
  • -/+ Many of the puzzles were essentially just searching through documents, but the documents were entertaining
  • ? At least one decision point might have given a different ending, but there was no option to go back and retry, so I’m not sure
  • ? Interface offers “GET A CLUE” and “SKIP PUZZLE” options, though we forgot to try them to see how well they worked
  • ? Best for players who want a humorous story with some light puzzling mixed in

Cindi S’ Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Bad Altitude is an airline-themed game that combines videos, text, and sound effects to make an online experience that doesn’t take itself too seriously – I actually chuckled through the entire game! If you pay attention, there are several clever jokes around a certain pop star. While the theming and humor were fun, the puzzles were the weakest part. There were not a lot of them, and most were solvable by one person, leaving the other players idle. Several puzzles were confusing, and I’m not sure how, but we skipped right past one of them without actually doing it. This was such a mixed experience for me; I can’t recommend it.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Stuck at home and unable to travel to all those fun escape rooms you had planned? Just hop on the Bad Altitude flight, and it’s almost like the real thing. This immersive audio puzzle game was loads of fun, and it’s nice to have an immersive game without a live gamemaster.

Immersion: The charm of this game lay in its very well-acted and hilarious dialogue. The storyline never got boring, and I loved all the characters. Really cheeky humor with adult themes had me giggling throughout the game.

Puzzles: Pretty simple puzzles but still quite fun to play. Most of them were logical deduction style and easy to collaborate on through Discord.

Gamemaster: This was a play-at-your-own-pace game without a live gamemaster or avatar. However, the production value of the videos and all the characters were very high, and it almost felt like we really had live hosts.

Interface: This game had a pretty snazzy custom interface with its own chat. All the files you needed as well as the video were generated within the interface, and it’s also where you input answers. I found it quite easy to navigate, and it gave Bad Altitude a unique look.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Bad Altitude seems like an entertaining game that has a high potential to be one of the funnier games you might play during lockdown. I say “seems,” because my particular experience was marred by a persistent major connection problem: images loaded very slowly (flashbacks to 56k days, ugh), the audio was not synced to video, and the transcript (an otherwise great accommodation) was also out of sync.

I was able to play along and participate, if a bit behind my teammates. What I experienced was a story-driven airplane ride that was heavy on humor and surprisingly light on puzzles. The puzzles that were there were very document-heavy, so there was a lot of reading/ skimming to be done, and sometimes a large amount of unused information.

Bad Altitude is memorable because of its zany plot and slick interface, but a few more puzzles would make this feel like a fuller experience.

Disclosure: Fast Familiar provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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