Accomplice – CyberQuest [Hivemind Review]

CyberQuest is an online race in the style of a light puzzle hunt, presented by Accomplice in New York City.

Evil gamer children threatening to destroy the internet over Zoom.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 2-3 per team for experienced players

Play Time: under 30 minutes for experienced teams

Price: To book a private group, contact Accomplice for pricing (think corporate rates). For public bookings (offered occasionally) it’s priced at $25 per person.

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

You enter into a Zoom meeting that delivers a narrative. The call abruptly self-destructs after less than 10 minutes and it is up to you and your team to solve the mysteries laid before you in order to win the game before your competitors do.

At the conclusion of the setup, you have to self-divide into your own teams, spin up video chats, and race through a series of puzzles.

Many of the puzzles are solved via typing in your team name and a code phrase.

Dead wifi, level one unlock.

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.

Theresa Piazza’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

CyberQuest is not an experience for puzzle enthusiasts. I had really high hopes considering I very much enjoyed Accomplice’s IRL NYC experiences. The intended audience for this game (considering their price point) is corporate clients, but the lack of onboarding, low opportunity for cross-team collaboration on puzzles, and game host’s/creator’s showing an enthusiasm for potty humor make for some strange choices considering their target market. The most interesting part of this game is the teams interacting live with actors, who were very in character, and very fun. If you’ve stumbled across this because you’re looking for a corporate-friendly, large-group game, take a look at our recommendations for large groups.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

CyberQuest left me aghast – that I’d just paid $25 for barely 15 minutes of gameplay, that a game with poorly executed potty humor is being targeted towards corporate groups, that puzzles intended for 4+ player teams were very much best for solo players, with no real opportunities for collaboration in either the puzzle or interface design. Above all else, I can’t get past the price: for a game light on content and quality, the cost (which is substantially higher for corporate bookings) is absolutely outrageous, and I say that as someone intimately familiar with corporate team-building rates. The value just isn’t there, especially for an experience where corners were cut in both the interaction design and technical implementation.

This experience falls short in 5 areas:


1) Puzzle Design: I hesitate to even call the 6 activities we encountered “puzzles” as it was always clear from the start what to do and how to do it, and doing it took very little time. In multiple instances, a teammate solved a puzzle before other teammates’ pages had even loaded.

2) Technical Implementation: This game is hosted on a range of websites and platforms. I generally enjoy ARG-inspired transmedia exploration, but in this setting it interfered with having a shared team experience as we struggled to all stay synced while rushing between websites. Default Squarespace URLs felt unprofessional and potentially immersion-breaking. For an experience charging premium rates, web interfaces should at least accommodate interactive solving, if not be synced across devices.

3) Framing: This game is presented as a competition: which team can finish fastest? While our Hivemind teams were certainly faster than many, I think for most audiences this competitive framing is at odds with overall enjoyment for such a content-light experience. Additionally, the game’s intro breaks off rather abruptly, potentially leaving some teams stranded, and I wish the game had ended in-world before turning into an out-of-world debrief. The experience concluded with a feeling of “is that really the end?”

4) Tone: I’m all for a good poop joke, but just saying “poop” and “fart” doesn’t equal humor. I desperately wanted this game to be funny, and it came close in a few moments… but sadly, the game just threw shit at the wall a bunch, and none of it stuck. I groaned more than I giggled.

5) Immersion: The light immersive theater-esque elements in CyberQuest were actually the highlight of the game for me. I thought the pre-recorded video and a couple of very brief live actor interactions were generally amusing and cleverly presented. Had these interactions lasted longer, had we not been incentivized to rush through them, or had they been more meaningful to a narrative, this could have been a very different experience.

I’m not going to lie – it’s really difficult to write reviews like this. The creators of the game seem genuinely creative and well intentioned, and I’d encourage them to explore a wider range of immersive and puzzle content, as well as connect with a broader pool of playtesters when crafting future experiences.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Let’s start with the greatness: The intro video to CyberQuest was fantastic. The children acting in this segment put on one of the finest performances that I’ve seen in any online immersive experience to date. They were hilarious and set a high bar for what was to come.

Pretty much everything before and after that performance left a lot of room for improvement.

The onboarding process was confusing and we were left to our own devices to set up video chat and communication infrastructure for ourselves. This was bewildering because it would have been nearly effortless for CyberQuest to manage breakout rooms for this game, and it would have dramatically improved the experience.

The gameplay itself was fine, but there was nothing special happening. The puzzles all worked, but they were static, the kind that I ignore in my social media feed. Beyond that, the user interface was about as low-effort as it could have been while still remaining functional.

On top of all of this was the premise that we had to race against one another. This narrative wasn’t logically supported by the story – if anything, the conceit of the game suggested that we should cooperate. And beyond that, the lack of communication infrastructure as well as any kind of unified player interface meant that the player who had the fastest computer and most focus could – and did – steamroll the entire game.

There simply isn’t much here to justify the cost of such an experience. When it ended, we were confused and thought that there had to be more. In the end, there was never any meaningful closure to the narrative. The game just ended.

I fully appreciate that this game was not designed for serious puzzlers; that was clear. Nevertheless, I struggle to identify who it’s for. The price structure certainly suggests that it’s for corporate groups… but the potty humor had less sophistication than a Terrance & Phillip short, and I cannot imagine feeling great about taking professional colleagues to play a game like this.

Disclosure: Accomplice provided the Hivemind reviewers with a discounted private group play.

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