We’re in the run-up to Halloween, and as expected, the Destination Guide is getting lots of entries suited to the time of year – including the Lab’s own Haunted Halloween Tour, which I recently tried. Some of the offerings for this Halloween are new, and some are back for a further round of fun / mayhem.
Two of the latter are Return of the Nightmare Walkthrough, developed by the folk at Skyrah Fantasy Roleplay, and Return to Havenhollow, put together by the Holiday Appreciation Association (HAA) team.
Return of the Nightmare Walkthrough
As the name suggests, this is intended to be a walk through the stuff of nightmares, although there is also a hunt involved as well – find the ten pumpkins, and you go and claim your prize at the end.
Things get off to a dark enough start: you arrive in pitch black, a gaping hole in front of you with the words “Down You Go…” floating over it. I’m not sure if it’s an instruction, a suggestion or an order; not that it matters, as it’s the only way to go…
The fall delivers you to the start of your actual journey. Here you’ll find instructions and notes on the hunt, and the opportunity to grab a pumpkin lantern (which you should). The instructions suggest trying things in Mouselook. This can be tricky / frustrating at times, but if you’re comfortable navigating in Mouselook, I really recommend that you follow the suggestion; it makes for a much more involved journey. Also make sure you accept the region windlight (or set your viewer’s time to midnight), and that you have sounds enabled. Then, when you’re set, follow the bloody arrow.
What follows is a tortuous route through various locations – all reached on foot, each of which has its own look and feel, and perhaps a surprise or two. The themes of the locations are perhaps to be expected, given this is a nightmare: the bloody cold store, circus tents with the kind of clowns you most assuredly do not want to have as entertainment at your young one’s birthday party, slimy sewers, ghostly woodlands, and so on, but they all work rather well, especially when in Mouselook. Along the way, you’ll find the pumpkins for the hunt (if you decide to collect them) dotted around, some obvious, some perhaps not so obvious (you might want to look behind you in places, despite the warnings not to!).
At the end of the walk is a maze. This is where you really should be in Mouselook. The limited amount of light from your lantern not only makes this a genuine challenge, it can give rise to a feeling of being trapped, adding to the desire to find the way out. The latter does take time, so try not to give into frustration and then hopping out of Mouselook (if you’re using it). Once you have found your way to the doors and freedom, you can either teleport off to the Dark Giza Fantasy mall (or wherever you like), or you can deposit your collected pumpkins, claim your prize and then teleport off.
The first-person / Mouselook element of the Walkthrough can make it fun. There’s less gore evident than the Haunted House Tour, which some might prefer, and the ability to wander for yourself makes it perhaps a tad more immersive. While it is not designed with the Rift in mind, given the intended way people are to try to find their way around the place, it might actually offer itself to those who have a Rift.
I’d perhaps liked to have seen a few more surprises while trying to find my way through the maze. It can get a bit dry after a while, especially when in Mouselook, where there is always the temptation to simply tap the
ESC key. That said, however, the Walkthrough is nicely immersive, and seems to be going down well with the people taking part.
Return to Havenhallow
I actually tried this out in 2013 when it was just “Havenhollow”, but didn’t get around to blogging about it. As with the original, Return to Havenhollow is an activity in two parts, and visitors can participate in one or the other or both, as they please.
On arrival, you are deposited in the titular town (est. 1802) which, shrouded in the mist of an October evening and with the Moon just rising, is into the full spirit of Halloween. Pumpkins and scarecrows adorn driveways and lawns and lights blaze from windows. All is set for a little bit of trick or treating – which forms the first part of the activities here. Simply collect a folder of items from the little stall close to the arrival point (the stall also has a couple of fun freebies as well), wear the trick or treat bucket from the folder, and head off around town, knocking on doors to see if you get a trick or a treat …
The second part of the event is the more horror-themed. You’ll need to wear the Havenhollow HUD from the folder of items, and it’s suggested you also wear the torch – although frankly, unless windlight was messing up for me, I found this wasn’t necessary. The HUD uses the old “Advanced Creator Tools” permissions system to take control of your avatar for the purposes of teleporting – so you’ll need to grant it permission to do so when you wear it. Remember that removing the HUD revokes the permissions granted, so you’re not exposing your avatar to risks of griefing – but if you do remove the HUD, things Won’t Work.
When you do happen upon the secret entrance, you’ll start on a series of teleports around the region, most of which appear to be to different locations inside an asylum. These teleports are all automatic, thanks to the HUD, so you don’t have to touch anything; simply walking into objects, visible or otherwise (and chiefly doors once you’re in the asylum), will trigger a move to another location.
As you’re zapped around the place you’ll encounter various things and people, and you’ll need keep your eye on chat, as there might be hints as to what to do along the way. The aim is to find your way out, although as this is a procedural piece – teleports will only carry you forwards, not back – this isn’t as difficult as it may sound.
The exit, when found, will take you to the Havenhollow pumpkin patch, where you can view entries in the HAA Date auction (and participate yourself, if so inclined, 50% of bids received go to participants and 50% to HAA for future ventures, closing date October 25th).
Return to Havenhollow is perhaps of a lighter intent than Return of the nightmare Walkthrough; the horror / spook element is far more low-key, and the emphasis, particularly with the trick or treating is more on fun.
However, I have to confess to finding the trip through the asylum a tad bit frustrating. Use of automatic teleports is good in moderation, and can allow for much more involved sets and locations, but if used too frequently, it can break any feeling of immersiveness – and sadly, for me at least, that was the case here. I found myself wishing that there were perhaps fewer sets but with more to explore, together with a choice of routes to take in places. But again, that said, Return to Havenhollow seems to be hitting just the right note for many of those paying it a visit.