With The Kindling Hour, Swamp Motel bring what might be termed the Isklander trilogy to a richly satisfying conclusion. While this third immersive mystery can be enjoyed on a standalone basis, it is undoubtedly much more enjoyable if experienced after the earlier instalments, Plymouth Point and The Mermaid’s Tongue. As with them, it would be a mistake to say too much about the plot of The Kindling Hour. One can enjoy the experience alone or work across cyberspace with up to five other people to solve puzzles, crack codes and unravel the gently complex plot.
Swamp Motel’s USP, at least as far as this reviewer is concerned, is that its experiences are seamlessly integrated with the real world and the plot of The Kindling Hour takes in various websites, some created for the purpose but others that are very familiar which, especially in the closing section, adds a genuine thrill to the whole experience. And unlike other online puzzle-heavy mysteries there are cut scenes with a cast of three in The Kindling Hour, including one very familiar face from the world of cult cinema and television.
A small criticism is that the way into The Kindling Hour is a little unsatisfactory, but this is clearly because the company is trying to ensure everyone starts on the same page, whether or not they have experienced the earlier instalments. There is a lot to take in but everything gets going quickly enough and, with a clock counting down in the top right-hand corner, the pressure is on. Help is available – ostensibly from a chatbot though for me at least it certainly passed the Turing Test and felt like there was a real person just “offstage” – but to be honest you’re unlikely to need much help if you keep your wits about you and have at least some idea of how escape room type puzzles work.
By comparison with some of the many online escape rooms and similar experiences, Swamp Motel’s offerings can seem a little expensive but they are seriously good value for money and if played by a team of six the cost is roughly a tenner for 60 to 90 minutes. Highly recommended.
Review by Louis Mazzini
Swamp Motel announce their most ambitious production yet – The Kindling Hour. From the creators of 2020 smash-
hit productions, Plymouth Point and The Mermaid’s Tongue, comes the third instalment in a trilogy of live works that have set the trend for immersive online experiences.
For the 40,000 people across the UK who have already played the first two instalments, the third will be the final jigsaw piece in the sequel – The Kindling Hour places audiences and their teammates in the centre of a chilling underworld in a bid to bring down the London Stone Consortium once and for all.
The Kindling Hour will give film-lovers a sense of cinema, theatre-lovers a sense of live production, true-crime lovers a sense of suspense, and gamers a sense of challenge. Dive into a new world, all from the comfort of home with friends and family safely in theirs.
Like your favourite box set releasing new episodes, all three shows in the series will be performed Tuesday – Sunday weekly for newcomers to adventure through with friends. Each group will find themselves cast in this original filmic production to solve a series of clues and encounter unnerving meetings with unexpected characters.