The Secret of Mount Shasta in Sansar

The Secret Of Mount Shasta; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrThe Secret Of Mount Shasta – click any image for full size

In June, Linden Lab announced another in their series of contests for Sansar experience creators. The Labyrinth Contest challenged entrants to design and build an engaging labyrinth / maze that has at least one challenge those exploring it must solve, whilst making their way from a defined start point to a defined end point.

On offer was a first prize of US $5,000 cash, with a choice of a one year subscription to Maya or Zbrush for second place and third prize of an Oculus Rift headset and hand controllers. Following the close of the competition towards the end of the month, The Secret Of Mount Shasta was judged to be the first prize winner.

The Secret Of Mount Shasta; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrThe Secret Of Mount Shasta – the tunnels await …

This is the second Sansar contest entry by Abramelin Wolfe of SL Abranimations fame to win a prize. In November 2017, he was runner-up in the Halloween themed Sansar’s Scariest competition, producing Paranormal Investigation (which I reviewed here).

Quite a lot has happened in Sansar since then in terms of feature and capabilities, with more scope for content creators to script and present interactive experiences; and while things still might fall short of Second Life, the improvements can still show that Sansar is more than just a place to visit and look at; and The Secret of Mount Shasta proves this in spades.

Set as an adventure mystery, the experience presents a considered use of Sansar capabilities to provide a game-like environment winding its way through the caverns and tunnels of a high mountain and filled with traps. Filled with  challenges and traps, it sets out a single goal for visitors to achieve, as the introduction lays out.

The Secret Of Mount Shasta; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrThe Secret Of Mount Shasta – the way is barred – or is it?

Search for the Lemurian Ascended Masters that live deep inside Mount Shasta. Navigate the caverns, avoid the booby traps and solve the various puzzles. Discover the secret of Mount Shasta!

– From the introduction to The Secret of Mount Shasta.

Visitors commence their adventure at a small tented camp sitting alongside the entrance to the caverns. This is guarded by imposing hooded figures carved from the living rock, oblivious to the wind and snow around them. Between their mysterious figures, light flickers from naked torches within the tunnel entrance, enticing people inside.

The torches are periodically placed along the bare stone walls, providing sufficient illumination to see the way forward – but be sure to keep an eye on either side, as further tunnels do open off the first, and can be easily missed if you’re only focused on what lies ahead. Some of these tunnels are gated, the way forward apparently blocked. Some can be opened – rising like portcullises – by pulling a nearby lever. Others may require other means of opening them (I’m not about to give away all of the secrets here!).

The Secret Of Mount Shasta; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrThe Secret Of Mount Shasta – symbols will help you on your way – but only in the right order

Opened gates initially provides access to further tunnels – just beware of the booby traps, such as the arrows launched across a passageway at certain intervals. Such traps might be individually place, or come in pairs or groups – so keep your eyes peeled and time your moves accordingly. Should you be struck by an arrow, you will be transported via a chamber back to the experience spawn point at the base camp.

The further into the labyrinth you get, the more complex and engaging things get. Tunnels open out into caverns, again either individually placed or in close-knit groups, some even linked, although the way between them may be initially barred. Puzzles are to be found within these caverns, and you’ll need to look for the in-scene clues to correctly solve one of them. There are even skeleton guards to fight – yes, fight; again look for the clues on the walls / ground for how to do this, and remember, you can pick things up in Sansar and throw them.

The Secret Of Mount Shasta; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrThe Secret Of Mount Shasta – you must be prepared to defend yourself. And to move stairs

All of this makes for an engaging – and actually quite addictive – challenge which combines elements of Tomb Raider with platform games and even a touch of Harry Potter as you work your way through things – complete with a ratcheting up of both frustration at each re-spawn and determination to end to the end of the challenge and find what awaits. For those with a sci-fi leaning, there might even be an echo of the Stargate franchise (ascended Lemurians  / ascended Lanteans?); ideal for those who prefer Daniel Jackson over Laura Croft or Indiana Jones!

There is a marvellous sense of an unfolding story within The Secret of Mount Shasta – and the way in which clues are provided in-game to solve one of the puzzles along the way is adds to this sense of story. Visually impressive with a superb and subtle audioscape to add further depth to the adventure, this is a worthy winner of the Labyrinth Contest and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

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