Nordo – The Interrogation of Alice [Review]

“Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 6, 2021

Team size: We recommend 2

Duration: 1-2 hours

Price: $117 plus shipping

REA Reaction

If you’re a Through the Looking Glass fan, a collector of berry curds, or a devotee of absurd theater, Nordo’s The Interrogation of Alice may be for you. From the post-purchase email through the very end of the video credits, it’s clear that the creators of this game invested extraordinary attention to the details of its source material. They infused every aspect of…well…everything with references to the book. If I’d played a game like this about one of my personal obsessions, I would absolutely die. In a good way.

A box filled with smaller red and black boxes that are labeled, "eat me," "drink me," & "evidence."

If you’re an average escape room enthusiast who prioritizes puzzling and/or has just a passing knowledge of Alice lore, this is a much harder sell at $117. Nordo’s background and strengths lie in immersive theater, so the details woven throughout the videos, puzzles, and food were well executed and delightful. However, we found the story to be disorienting in a way that, while honoring the nonsense of its source material, left us constantly uneasy that we were missing something. Ultimately, that confusion was irrelevant because the handful of simple puzzles didn’t hinge on clues from the videos, and the characters seemed to solve the overall mystery on their own. This was both a relief and a disappointment that left us feeling like befuddled observers rather than useful participants. Fortunately, there were some exquisite berry curd and biscuits to soothe our feelings.

Overall, this concept has enormous potential for filling a gap in the world’s offerings for a premium date night at home. With a more intelligible script and a tighter interrelationship between the puzzles and performances, there would be a huge opportunity to transform an experience like this from a collection of impressive details into a more thorough engagement of the audience. This was a respectable effort in that direction, but at the price point, it needed to be exceptional.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Through the Looking Glass fans
  • Immersive theater aficionados
  • Newbies

Story

We had been summoned to join the Wonderland Protective Services Interrogation Team to help address a troublesome infiltration of Wonderland. To do so, we were invited to view the questioning of key witnesses to the crimes and process some of the evidence. The stakes were high: failure would disrupt tea time.

Insignia with a teapot reads, "Ever watchful forever teatime."

Note: The majority of references in this production were from Through the Looking Glass. Familiarity with this classic would definitely enhance this experience.

Setup

The game was a combination of court documents, evidence packets, and a series of short videos. The experience began by guiding us to an online game portal, which then controlled the flow of the game. We alternated watching video clips and solving puzzles, entering solutions into the portal to continue.

Note: Be sure to open your box and its cover letter immediately to ensure that you refrigerate or chill certain items as necessary.

Gameplay

Nordo’s The Interrogation of Alice Room Service Box was a play-at-home experience that focused on a series of video segments, supplementing it with a small set of light puzzles and food. Puzzles involved following instructions to complete simple tasks and had a low level of difficulty.

Analysis

➕ Each element of this experience captured the absurdity and chaos of the Alice literature. Everything felt like part of the Wonderland universe.

➕ The videos felt like a well-produced small-troupe play caught on camera, which made sense because Nordo is fundamentally a Seattle-based immersive theater company looking for ways to diversify in strange new times. The actors were playful and thoroughly embraced their characters. Their costumes were unique but recognizable interpretations of their personalities.

➖ The nonsense overwhelmed the story line, making it difficult to follow the plot. If you have just a passing familiarity with the Alice stories, expect a significant amount of confusion (not unlike Alice❓).

❓ The puzzles were very simple and reminiscent of what you might find in a children’s puzzle book. Although they impressively captured the theme, their substance was underwhelming when compared to their fancy presentation.

➕ The physical components in the box were realistic and showed incredible attention to writing and detail. Take your time to study and appreciate them.

❓ Several of the physical pieces served no functional purpose and seemed to exist just to add ambiance to the experience. A strict puzzler might consider them to be red herrings; an Alice fan might consider them to be a love letter.

➖ The shipping box did not instruct you to open it immediately, so it would be very easy to delay opening it too long and fail to refrigerate one of the central food pieces. Nothing might ruin a food-infused activity more than wondering whether the food had spoiled.

➕ The included berry curd and spike-able tea (pre-spiked if you’re in Seattle) were absolutely delicious, and their presentation was adorable. If I lived in Seattle, I would eagerly visit Nordo in person based on the promise of food like this.

A tea cup filled with tea on a saucer beside a black box labeled, "drink me."

➖ Imprecise instructions, inconsistent labeling, and imperfect gating mechanisms were common enough to mar the immersion. At times it was unclear whether we were supposed to have access to an item already, one piece was not sealed when perhaps it should have been, and one clever reveal did not survive the shipping process.

➖ There was no reset guide to this game, and some of the pieces would not be reusable if used as intended. Even with the food, it’s hard to justify the steep price point for a single-use game, and I hate throwing away beautiful solid objects.

➕ If you’re a “Jabberwocky” fan, there’s a special treat here for you.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: A large table or floor space for spreading out game components
  • Required Gear: A computer with internet access and a writing utensil

Buy your copy of Nordo’s The Interrogation of Alice, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Nordo provided a sample for review.

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