Pulse Games have been bringing Halloween themed games to Second life for eight years. In 2014, they created Don’t Panic, an enticing and fun little adventure-come-hunt built around the story of paranormal investigators and mysterious goings-on, as I reviewed at the time, having previously encountered their 2013 event, System Failure. So when I heard the news their offering for the 2015 Halloween season was open, I was curious to find out what it might be like.
Carver’s End is billed as a trick-or-treat adventure which takes the turn for the worst. as one might expect, participants are out doing the trick or treating as things get decidedly odd and increasingly gory as they progress through what might otherwise be the sleepy little hamlet that goes by the titular name.
Things start innocently enough at the arrival point. Here you’ll need to grab a copy of the free play pack, which includes introductory notes, instructions on game play. Do make sure you heed the notes on minimising lag and divesting yourself of unnecessary facelights. It’s also a good idea to have sound on as well, although essential information is also delivered through chat. There’s also a game HUD in the form of a radio, which you’ll need to wear. With this in place, you’re ready to proceed via the “tunnel” leading to the town.
As Carver’s End uses Experience Keys, you must grant it permission to act on your avatar when you reach the tunnel entrance. The requested permissions are displayed in the dialogue, and as with all Experience keys activities, the permissions granted will be automatically revoked when you leave the game play regions.
On granting the permissions, you’ll be transported to Carver’s End (population 666). From here on in, what happens and where you go is entirely up to you. As with all Pulse Games, progress is very much as case of explore, touch and listen for hints (given both over your radio (local sounds) and in chat).
And when I say “explore” and “touch”, I mean exactly that; don’t take anything for granted, and take your time. There are prizes large and small to be found (with the black rats in particular handing out hunt prizes), while doors, gates, manhole covers, ladders, and so on may well teleport you to another area of game play.
It is at this point that a small problem does occur. One of the really attractive elements of Don’t Panic, was the fact it was structured around a storyline with a defined starting point and purpose. This, combined with the various ways one could progress through the challenge, made it and engaging activity.
Carver’s End has a similar free-form approach to it, which offers the same different routes through it, allowing different things to be found over several runs through the town. However, it does lack any underpinning story. This left me leaving a little disappointed with the experience when compared to Don’t Panic; there was little to really keep me engaged to the same degree, which was a shame.
That said, for anyone who does enjoy hunts in Second Life and fancies one with a horror twist, Carver’s End will be open through until mid-November; there’s plenty on offer as you find those little black rats!
- Carver’s End (Rated Moderate)