By: Sara Kinne-Lugo
To coincide with the release of the Amazon original, Panic over Memorial Day Weekend, Prime Video launched an impressive interactive escape room game - PANIC: THE EXPERIENCE - that I was invited to try out. Described as a “thrilling virtual manhunt,” PANIC: THE EXPERIENCE invites participants to experience the world of Panic, online. Aside from that, along with the info below from the official event page, I knew very little about what was in store. This, of course, added to the anticipation. I watched the series trailer once more, then it was go-time.
Popular varsity athlete Noah Kaplan has gone missing from the town of Carp, Texas.
You must crack codes and hack websites to figure out where he’s gone, why he’s vanished, and why the cops are interested in strange graffiti that’s started to appear all over town.
Is Noah in danger? Or is the worst yet to come?
Work together to follow Noah’s online footsteps before the trail goes cold. Every second counts.
Let the game begin.
Let the panic set in.
The experience starts with an email from the missing high-school senior’s girlfriend, Kelly Grover. She thanks us on behalf of herself and Noah’s family for volunteering to help by joining the "remote search team." While she and others search the areas in town where he was last seen, we’re tasked with figuring out what we can dig up online. We sign in via Samuel Maverick High School’s virtual meeting space to link up, and get the game plan. Kelly logs in to share all the details she has so far. It’s not like Noah to disappear like this, and she’s getting very concerned. Could it have something to do with the mysterious, and dangerous underground game that the seniors in Carp are whispering about?
The character Kelly played the part of game master in this escape room-style experience. This is a crucial role that has been missing in a couple online experiences that I've done over the last year or so. Having her check in with us via (pre-recorded) video calls and continuously communicating in the group chat really helped to keep us immersed, while also making sure we were moving in the right direction.
The puzzles were very well-themed and fit the storyline without seeming too out of place. A few different elements were included, such as riddles, symbol-hunting, and even some of your basic social media stalking… I mean, sleuthing. PANIC: THE EXPERIENCE was also the first online event of this type that had me interacting on multiple, separate websites. This made it feel much more realistic, and therefore way more tense! They had us “hacking into” the Carp Sheriff’s website at one point, and it certainly felt like we were doing something we shouldn’t be. I appreciated how the game introduced us to the atmosphere of the series it was inspired by, without feeling like it was giving too much away.
In the end, we finished with 6:49 left to spare. I think we all left feeling accomplished and effectively compelled to binge season 1 of Panic (now streaming on Amazon Prime Video). They even followed up with a special branded photo that was taken during gameplay (with our permission).
Our photo had us in stitches, and honestly would have been enough by itself to make it worth our time. But it didn’t need to be. I would highly suggest freeing up an hour in your schedule for this exciting, immersive, and better yet, FREE experience. Shout out to my awesome teammates Shannon McGrew (founder, Nightmarish Conjurings - thanks for inviting me!), Kayla Caldwell (managing editor, Creepy Kingdom) and Mr. Adams. We should plan to solve more mysteries together!
PANIC: THE EXPERIENCE runs through next Sunday, June 13. Time slots for groups of up to 6 can be reserved at https://www.experiencepanic.com/
For Kayla Caldwell’s review of the Amazon original series, Panic head here https://www.creepykingdom.com/post/series-review-panic