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  • Writer's pictureImmersive Rumours

Review: Phantom Peak: An Immersive Open World Adventure - Season 1

Immersive Rumours received complimentary tickets to this experience and as such, are disclosing this information before our review. They have had no input in the below and all thoughts are our own.


*This review was based on the opening season of Phantom Peak in August-September 2022. Some of the information here will be out of date.*

Sitting in the shadow of the former Harmsworth Quays printworks in Canada Water is Phantom Peak, a new immersive experience from the people behind TimeRun and Sherlock Holmes: The Game Is Now. Blending elements of escape rooms, immersive theatre and text-based role playing games, Phantom Peak is a different style of immersive event, and it stands on its own within the London immersive theatre scene.


It's an experience that flips a lot of immersive theatre conventions on their head - from making your phone an essential element of the experience, to creating an environment in which the pace is entirely controlled by your own actions - not the world around you.


If you're a fan of escape rooms, puzzles and trying to complete storylines and quests when at immersive events, Phantom Peak is a must-do experience.

We visited Phantom Peak on a weekday evening in August, just a few weeks after it first opened. Speaking to Nick Moran, one of the creators of the experience while there, he described the current state of Phantom Peak as it being in the first stage of a multi-year plan that will see the town expand, the storylines change and develop, and the time period in which it's set in progress and move forward. It will be an always growing experience than changes over time, getting bigger and better.


When you first step foot into the town of Phantom Peak you're instructed by one of the towns-folk to log-on to JonAssist, the events companion website on your mobile phone. JonAssist operates like a text-based guide to the town - you'll be referring to it a lot as the website takes you through story trails and tracks your progress as you complete each trail.


We were told that there's too many trails to complete in one night, but a healthy amount for those motivated to explore the town and uncover as much as possible is between 5-6 trails in an evening. Using the website is essential to your experience, so make sure you've come with a fully charged phone!


As you first walk in and around the set for Phantom Peak, it's easy to be taken aback by the level of detail. Everything in the world feels like it has a storytelling purpose. From the Videomatic machines that play archive recordings of the towns history and lore when you enter specific four-digit codes, to the robotic doctor that can diagnose patients based on their symptoms, or the Jonagraph devices that allow you to communicate with those living outside the confines of Phantom Peak, every single piece of technology within the steampunk town is there to move the story trails forward.


One of the first things we were prompted to do by the JonAssist was find the Town Noticeboard and try to find out which of the town residents is best to speak to about trying to get to the bottom of a recent scandal that occurred at the annual Fiesta of Friendliness party. The noticeboard was full of different posters and notices, nearly all of which had valuable information for any one of the 16+ story trails currently on offer at Phantom Peak. Without giving away where this story trail goes, it quickly develops into a story of mistaken identities and we spent the next half hour trying to get to the bottom of it, following every twist and turn along the way.


One of Phantom Peaks greatest strengths is just how deep the storytelling goes. Nothing feels thrown together or there just for decoration, and basically every element of the experience - from the character interactions, to the posters and signs, to newspaper cuttings on tables and desks around town feed into the overall interconnected story of the town, which only gets more complex and engaging the more time you invest into it. Every resident we spoke to had their own views and opinions on the towns mysterious leader Jonas (either positive or negative), other residents, or their own position in the town. The place feels like a real, all be it heightened version of a town with people going about their day to day lives.


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The most radical difference between Phantom Peak and every other immersive experience currently running is how the show handles big story moments. The moment in time we as guests experience at Phantom Peak isn't the most dramatic or exciting in the towns history, it's just an average day.


In typical immersive shows every character is going through their own personal storyline that unfolds over the course of the event whether you are there to witness it or not. Because of this, you could be at the bar or the toilet or just not in the right place at the right time and miss out of a key moment at a Punchdrunk or Secret Cinema show, and there's nothing you can do to stop that.


At Phantom Peak, that isn't possible because all of the key moments at Phantom Peak only happen when you interact with either one of the robots in the town, or talk to one of the residents about something specific. It's an incredibly refreshing thing to experience as it removes the sense of FOMO that you otherwise get in other immersive experiences. It's impossible to miss key moments because you're the one creating and initiating them. It's storytelling on a personal level, and it makes your visit feel unique and intimate - as if you're the only one witnessing it.


During our visit, we completed 8 of the story trails on offer. When you complete one, the resident who wraps up that story thanks you for your help by rewarding you with a small tarot-style card.. Each is numbered and serves as a great memento to remember the experience by. If you're a completionist, it's also a great motivator to keep doing the trails and hopefully collect all the cards across multiple visits.



Speaking to the creative team behind Phantom Peak at the end of our visit, they laid out the future plans for the experience - with expansions to the set currently being developed (with hopes to have them completed by October), the experience will have different 'seasons' where the storylines all jumps forward in time and the residents of the town progress with their lives. Residents who are running for Mayor in the current version of Phantom Peak may well win the election in the next season for example, and new quests will be added along with more characters. This should give Phantom Peak an extra level of enjoyment for repeat visitors who can see what the residents of the town have gone on to do as time has passed.


Conclusion


Phantom Peak is an amazing experience for those who are fans of immersive theatre. It's been designed to allow guests to have an intimate, personalised experience where they are in control of the narrative and allows for a huge amount of fun to be had exploring everything the town has to offer. With future expansions to the experience planned, Phantom Peak is only going to build and improve upon an incredibly impressive start. We can't wait to revisit and uncover more of the mysteries the town has to offer.


9/10


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Phantom Peak is located in Canada Water, London.

Tickets are available through phantompeak.com, prices start at £34 per person.

Thank you to the team at Phantom Peak for inviting us to experience the show.

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