Fall Back to 1982 in the Stylish But Succinct ‘Alt Delete’ (Review)

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Delusion creator Jon Braver’s 2019 offering, though short, is a lot of fun. It also takes place in a space where most immersive enthusiasts ought to feel at home: a board game bar.

The Dragon & Meeple is a relatively new spot located near USC. For a small cover charge (I last paid $7.50), you can choose among their many table-top games. They also offer a sizable menu of bar food and craft beer. Plus, they sell games in an adjacent shop. Alt Delete, which serves as a side story to 2018’s The Blue Blade, inexplicably takes place in none of these spaces, but in the hidden passageways and storage rooms in between.

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If you attended The Blue Blade last year, then you know the story surrounds the eponymous weapon, which can tear space and time. Evelyn Lowell, a rogue agent of the Safeguard Society, stole the blade from the very organization meant to protect it and began offering luxury time travel cruises to those who could afford them. Messing with time always comes with a price, as Evelyn (in her many iterations across eras) learns. You, as a Safeguard Society member, were tasked with tracking Evelyn through the years in an attempt to recover the blade. The Blue Blade saw guests flit from WWII to ancient civilizations, but you don’t really need to have done any of that to understand the events of Alt Delete. What you do need to know is that you’re now breaking into Evelyn’s secret computer lab, circa 1982, to purge some dangerous files. It’s a singular, succinct mission.

Guests assemble at the Dragon & Maple, where they’ll check in and wait for their time slot. You’ll only spend a few minutes in view of other patrons before the adventure takes you into darker, foggier, more secluded space. Here, the short show unfolds a bit like an escape room, albeit with more theatrics and the production value Delusion fans have come to expect. None of the puzzles are particularly hard, but their execution comes with a hefty amount of spectacle. One of you will have to perform an interesting feat, with the help of your teammates, that may not appeal to those of you with vertigo.

During all of this, a retro-new wave soundtrack amps the natural adrenaline of the experience. Combine that with the gritty ’80s color scheme, and it feels a lot like being plunged into a Wadjet Eye game. This is great if you love cyberpunk point-and-click adventure games (I certainly do).

The show is well-paced and, with just a single actor in the room to guide you along, there’s enough for every member of your small party to accomplish a task or two. It’s as tech-driven as your most savvy escape room, yet sticks well to its 80s theme. Though spooky, it’s not particularly scary, and maintains a sly sense of humor throughout.

If there is a complaint about Alt Delete, it’s that it’s both short and expensive. Tickets are $38, plus fees, for a show that’s about 20 minutes (plus a 10-minute pre-show). It works well as the centerpiece of an evening at Dragon & Meeple, if you can afford it. An optional $73 ticket will net you one show ticket, one entree, two alcoholic beverages, and your cover change.

But immersive theatre, in its intimacy, is expensive. With Alt Delete, you get what you pay for when it comes to production design, interaction and the quality of the show’s single actor. It’s not the best bang for your buck, but is it worth it? That’s between you and your bank account.

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The Great Company Presents: Alt Delete A Chapter From The Blue Blade Saga continues through December 15. Tickets are $38.

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