Agent Venture - The Cubed3 Experience

By Chris Leebody 03.03.2021 5

What do you get when you put five members of the Cubed3 team together to solve a virtual escape room? Well - the answer is plenty of panic, some ingenious puzzle solutions and a whole heap of fun.  

The 'escape room genre' has had a tough gig this last year. Arguably bigger in the cultural zeitgeist than it had ever been pre-pandemic, companies have now had to find particularly creative solutions to the demands of social distancing. 

The obvious solution of course is to tap into the Zoom phenomenon and build an escape room around that. Is it really possible however, to put together an immersive and creative experience that relies on human interaction, while doing it virtually? Agent Venture proves it is.

Brought together by London-based The Adventure is Real, Agent Venture is one-part escape room and one-part immersive virtual theatre. Teams of between 4-5 players can play one of three missions, each hosted by a bespoke member of the company's acting team, who will take on the role of 'Agent Venture', relying on the team to keep them alive and on-mission. 

Image for Agent Venture - The Cubed3 Experience

Cubed3's adventure was led and narrated entirely by the wonderful Grace, who not only helps the team, but also voices and acts every other character in a way that makes it impossible not to get entirely invested in the experience. 

Each of the team takes on one of five roles - from the 'hacker' who is responsible for solving puzzles, to the 'communicator' who has to make contact with various characters throughout. Then there's the 'researcher' who has dossiers of useful information and the 'navigator' who guides Agent Venture through locations. Finally, there is the team 'coordinator' who can oversee the entire operation. 

Image for Agent Venture - The Cubed3 Experience

While it might be tempting to enjoy a refreshing drink while the mission briefing and role rundown is taking place - don't! Rather than just vague outlines of what each person's role in the game is, the brilliant part about Agent Venture is that everyone does have a very important part to play.  

The team do a great job in utilising Google Docs and spreadsheets to actually give each player their own pack and information, important to the mission. Not only is it a fantastic boost to the immersive nature of the game, but it also allows each of the team to shine, while providing a nice structure to everyone's contribution.  

There are all sorts of traditional 'gaming' mechanics that are fed into the experience - from puzzle solving hacking systems, to using the Zoom chat to call different characters. It is a very detailed and involving process and it's impossible not to get sucked into the tension of the whole thing. 

The moments of the team coming together feel the most special; when the 'hacker' has unlocked a vent and the 'navigator' successfully guides Agent Venture through, or when the 'researcher' has discovered a certain character has an important trait and the 'communicator' uses this to influence them. These are the moments that make Agent Venture wonderful. The team has to work together and it does truly create the kind of dynamic that make escape rooms so unique in real life. 

When the mission starts - and in this case the team was doing the first available mission to play (The Heist) - the team gets a briefing from 'dispatch', laying out what is to be expected. While things initially appear to be complicated and one or two of the team had a look of dread in their eyes as most were escape room novices, it all soon starts to click together. 

The story consists of the evil 'J. Bozo' who has some hidden files contained in a vault and it is the team's job to help Agent Venture break in, steal them and get out - all the while keeping them alive and intact (which is harder than it sounds for sure). 

What makes an experience like this so interesting is that each team's journey is going to be entirely unique. While there are a few obvious plans of action to take, the reality is there are so many interesting and creative ways teams can come together to make a plan. Cubed3 decided to take the main lift up to the 88th floor and the location of the vault. 

With some skilled hacking and useful information found by the 'researcher', it was just up to the 'communicator' to act their way around the staff. Frankly, part of the fun is that nobody knows the end result.  

Grace, the narrator and all-round character actor who was leading the mission, played all the diverse and vibrant roles to a remarkable degree of creativity and fun. From mad scientists to receptionists to the main villain themselves - each of them was remarkably engaging and all with their own personality and voices.  

Unlike any traditional video game, the outcome is also entirely in the teams' hands. Nobody knows what can happen on the fly, which just makes it all the more tense and interesting. 

Image for Agent Venture - The Cubed3 Experience

Absolute props have to go to the acting and writing from the 'Agent Venture' team. The humour and personality that came through was top-notch and it is clear that they themselves are having a lot of fun around interacting with people in a way that is beyond just simply fulfilling a role and doing a job. 

While it's clear the outcome of decisions will never be made unfair and teams who do the right things will be rewarded, ultimately nobody knows how any of these characters will react, which just does wonders for actually making Agent Venture such an immersive experience. It is entirely possible to fail to convince a character to do something necessary to progress the story, which feels very realistic. 

It's definitely not an easy experience either. While the Cubed3 team quickly got to grips with the basics of agent field work, the tight 30-minute timescale for each section of the roughly 75-minute game was always looming in the background. Finally, the team reached the vault but with just literally a few moments left, it was necessary to "solve the problem with violence". Sadly, even with that it was too late. 

Not to despair though, the game continues. The next section of the experience involved an exhilarating escape, navigating some tricky environments and then desperately struggling through a series of puzzles, while once again time was of course alluding the team. It was a cruel end for Agent Venture, drowning in a mess of the team's own making. 

Despite this failure however, not one of Cubed3's crack team didn't say how much of a blast it had all been. As mentioned above, Agent Venture feels like more than just a game, it is actually closer to a very bespoke piece of live theatre and that is something very interesting and important when that landscape has been hit so badly by Covid-19. 


Final Thoughts 
With two other potential missions to try and rectify the failure, it feels liked the Cubed3 gang has unfinished business with Agent Venture and the evil 'J. Bozo'. For a team of friends or those in work, this comes highly recommended. It will definitely leave a lasting impression and at the very least, is an hour or so of excellent entertainment all from the comfort of home.

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This was super fun! I hope they can make more adventures going forward!

ahh Agent Venture, I will never forget that reassuring voice even in the face of being led by us.





Love it! Glad you all enjoyed it Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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