The viral pandemic has moved many things online – shopping, concerts, meetins – and in a way it’s forced us to relook at how technology can augur new ways to introduce new experiences.

Murder at Mandai Camp: The Case Reopens is one such example, mixing traits of virtual 360-degrees mapping (think Google Maps) in a videogame format for a non-linear play experience.

During the 90-minute timed event, you navigate around a crime scene to solve the mystery of a prolific recruit murder, and collect evidence to submit at the end of the game. You’ll find video evidences, a few trigger events that brings up flashbacks, and multiple vantages to witness the story in a different way.

Created by Derrick Chew (Executive Producer, Sight Lines Entertainment) and playwright and director Chong Tze Chien, the interactive event features mapping and navigational tech from Adrian Oliveiro (Xctuality) as well as spatial audio from Stereoimage Studios for a more immersive experience.

The story places you as a last-ditch detective to confirm the murderer of recruit Ilhan Rozells (Irsyad Dawood). Was it Lieutenant Haziq Alim (Erwin Shah Ismail) who has had altercations with the recruit for his conduct, or Tan Chee Meng (Bright Ong) whose pranking and bullying went a bit too far? As you explore, even investigators CID Officer Lemuel Ng (Benjamin Kheng) and Captain Ronald (Ronald Goh) get pulled into a mystery that hints at deeper agendas and a supernatural influence.

Inspired by the original play Murder at Mandai Camp conducted on Zoom last year, the virtual whodunnit event puts users in control of how their story develops, with multiple pathways unique to their personal choices.

The murder mystery unfolds through your selection of interactions as well as collection of evidence items and completing trigger event videos that reveals more of the story. For an even more immersive experience, the team has even roped in craft cocktail gastro-bar Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall to create detective-worthy sips in the form of The Scent of Plumeria and Pisang Noir – either to reward your success or to drown your sorrow at failure I should imagine.

Having experienced the gameplay myself, I found the concept easy to take to.

Navigational prompts are obvious enough, and the directional audio (best with stereo binaural headphones or earphones) helps to guide you as to where to look for the best discoveries. And because the UI is kept straightforward and clean, you won’t struggle with gameplay mechanics as you try to beat the clock.

The scare factor here is tangible, and varies from jump scares to hovering hauntings that give an air of disturbing tension. From background appearances to corporeal attacks, would our not-so-friendly presence have something to add to the case?

If there’s anything to improve upon, in my opinion, it would be two things: One, that the interactions can be a little too video-wall heavy. There’s a little bit too much videos to go through in one sitting for that segment, especially at the start of the game. I was feeling that I’ll spend too much time here, instead of exploring other clues. Or maybe a progression indicator might help appease the FOMO for naturally-competitive players like me?

For the second, it might be that the skits might fare better with a less theatrical performance. The current presentation can feel a little drawn out at parts, especially again, when a clock is ticking in the background.

Otherwise, the virtual event is a good alternative to some passive binge-watching, and the immersive nature coupled with investigative elements make for some good play.

Pro-tip: Don’t shuttle too much between different angles as it takes a few seconds to do so with the clock still running in the background.

Murder at Mandai Camp: The Case Reopens has extended its run to 16 January 2021 (yay for you late to the game – pun intended) and tickets are at $20 for the game, available at Sistic. There are options too to buy extra clues and the cocktail mentioned earlier.

Tickets bought on the actual day can be played immediately with the link in your email, so if you’re looking for a novel new evening experience, have a go. Draw the curtains, shut the lights, and put on some good headphones for the ultimate immersion, and if you present the right evidence, you’ll get entered into a draw where one winner gets a $1,000 bounty for having the smarts while having the scares. Will that be you?

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