In 2003 I came across a game called In Memoriam. Without going into the details of that game I found it very engaging. Essentially the game was set up as digital evidence for a crime with videos, photos, and puzzles/clues set up by the criminal. The game makers also set up numerous websites to facilitate a blurring of the lines between the real world and the game. You would investigate clues on the internet using Google and those searches would lead you to their websites. You would also get emails from “other investigators” on your team (really just auto emails from the server) to your actual normal email. It was very effective at blurring lines and making it feel more real.
I really enjoyed that escapism that allowed you to feel part of the story like no other video game I’d ever played.
Recently I became aware of a service/product that’s been around for a few years now called the Mysterious Package Company. You sign up so either you (or a friend) receive a series of packages in the mail. The idea behind it is that everything you receive is presented as a true thing. There are clues to unravel and artifacts to discover. It sells itself as a similar experience as I had with this video game so many years ago. I decided to find out what it was like so I ordered the cheapest one they had (still not cheap but not as many mailings as the other more expensive items).
It came in a plain cardboard box without any stamps or adornments to let the recipient know who it was from. When I got the box open, there was some packing peanuts, a plain white envelope, and a wooden box. The envelope had no distinctive markings on it. At first I suspected it was a packing slip or something of that nature. It was not. It was a “hand written” letter addressed specifically to me. It was of course printed but at first glance it did very much appear to be hand written on lined paper. The letter was explaining that the package was being sent to me as the previous owner could not keep it. Blah blah blah, mysterious stuff and more. This isn’t to say the letter was poorly done, just don’t want to give much away. I did find the letter a little difficult to read. The handwriting wasn’t super clear, but I think that helps.
The box was in the style of an old wooden parts crate type thing. Actually nailed together with four good size (not large) nails. You will need tools to get it open. I used a pocket knife but you won’t do it bare handed (unless you’re just going to smash it open). It is a rough wood and bares stamps from an unrelated company giving it a real world feel.
Inside the box you are presented with some rolled up, yellowed newspaper pages. I read through them briefly. One of the papers are wrapped around a leather journal with a medal medallion on a string wrapped around it (perhaps binding the evil inside was what they were going for). There was also a copied flyer that would also be from the time period (1980 on the newspapers).
The book, which is the main focus of this box, is an old lined leather journal. I don’t want to say much about the contents of the journal so as to not ruin the story. I will say from a production value standpoint it’s great. A few cut out newspaper clippings are tucked in the pages. While we all know this is produced in bulk, it does appear handmade when viewed. Even up close it’s not immediately obvious it was not hand written. It would have to be, but the illusion is great.
As far as the story that comes along with the package, I found it entertaining. I didn’t find it “chilling” as some reviewers on the website had said. Perhaps, knowing it wasn’t real, I found it difficult to allow the illusion. Maybe it’s my age. Everything is produced very well and as a whole is very convincing from a visual standpoint. I think I was expecting more of a puzzle to unravel than just a story to read. Unless there’s some large underlying part of the story that I’ve missed (which is entirely possible). I haven’t yet received the “reveal” letter from them so it’s possible there is a part of the story I missed (and if so I will post about it) but it actually seemed pretty straight forward to me.
With all that said, I did enjoy it. In fact if it had been gifted to me, so that I may not have been expecting it that probably would have added to it. And I think that’s their intent. You buy it for someone so the package is mysterious. But knowing it was coming and what it’s all about from the beginning I think ruined the illusion some. It is worth the experience. I may try one of their other packages that are multi-stage. That may add to the mystery and puzzle.