Your help is needed to track down an ancient lost artefact. Thrown into a murky underworld, you’ll have to hack into CCTV, outbid a high-end art dealer, and decipher messages from beyond the grave. Every click will immerse you deeper in the mystery. What is the Mermaid’s Tongue? And who are the dark forces who will stop at nothing to beat you to it? Let the hunt begin…
Completion Time: 1hr 3 minutes
Date Played: 27th March 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: Fans of ARG, general audience.
For this second (or third, as we played The Kindling Hour first and Plymouth Point second) instalment of Swamp Motel, we were thrown into the murky underworld of lost artefacts, art trade, and murder, to figure out exactly what the Mermaid’s Tongue is and recover it before it’s too late.
The only small problem? Because we’d played the Kindling Hour first, we kinda already knew what the Mermaid’s Tongue was, and where it was. Double oops! But it did help us solve the puzzles faster, so there’s a silver lining!
Some Notes on Tech
So first up, we had quite bad tech issues throughout this game. Although our invisible host was super helpful trying to fix it, it did add quite a few minutes onto our completion time. Unlike Plymouth Point which is played in Zoom, this one is played in-browser, so more like The Kindling Hour. Swamp Motel have built their own browser system complete with video and audio but for some reason it didn’t work for us. Voices dipped in an our, screen share audio sounded robotic, and there were a lot of echoes on our voice.
HOWEVER, take this with a pinch of salt, because I’ve read countless more reviews that haven’t mentioned any tech issues at all and we didn’t experience any problems with the third instalment, so it could have been a one off.
So with this, onto the actual review!
You join the game as part of an online art class – oh yes, I’ve done plenty of these in lockdown! The instructor gives us an intro, the model arrives, and we get started drawing- or do we? One of the previous patrons of the art class is missing and hacking into her art class login is where this story begins.
The shadowy London Stone Consortium is looking for an item called the Mermaid’s Tongue but it’s location is hidden between three people who only have part of the puzzle. But those people are dropping like flies so it’s a race to finish line to figure out what the three pieces of the puzzle are and where the fabled item is hidden today.
Again, the Swamp Motel series isn’t exactly an escape room experience. No, it’s was more of a thriller/adventure ARG (alternate reality game) whose stage is the internet. As such, players won’t expect to find many puzzles in the game. There are one or two, for example a quick telegraph puzzle and one or two riddles hiding locations within their words – but nothing you can’t Google, making it super accessible to the non-escape room audience.
What Swamp Motel do really well is immersive theatre, so if you want to feel immersed in this vast world, not sure who you can trust, and with an itching feeling like you’re being watched- then it’s a good one for you! Our tech issues meant the game didn’t completely flow as well as it might have done, but there are still some real wow moments throughout the game.
I particularly enjoyed having to use my mobile phone – not only to dial out numbers but also as a medium for being contacted by unknown numbers and players in the game. Another delightful aspect of the game was when we needed to use CCTV, but the less I say on that the less spoilers I’ll give away!
We played as a team of 3 from different locations and I think this would be the perfect number to play an experience like this! It’s an exciting game with some really impressive storytelling to boot. Of course, our tech issues were a major shame, but I wouldn’t hold it against the game because nobody can control the variable of internet / microphone / general computer problems – it just meant our personal experience wasn’t as awesome as it might have otherwise been.
Mermaid’s Tongue can be booked for £55 per team on their website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.