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'Alt-Minds' preview: Immerse yourself in 'total fiction'

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'Alt-Minds' GamesCom screenshot

© Orange


Alt-Minds, from Orange and Lexis Numérique, has been described as "transmedia" and "total fiction" - a game which blends reality and fiction together. Running for eight weeks, the story plays out in real-time as players are tasked with investigating the disappearance of five students.

The paranormal thriller revolves around the missing - and possibly abducted - group, who were involved in a research project. As you look into what happened to them, real-life tools are key to get closer to the truth.

These tools used to access the world of Alt-Minds are dedicated apps and web pages. Downloading a smartphone app on iOS and Android will provide access to a news feed, while much of the core investigating can only be done through the web via a computer or tablet like an iPad.

'Alt-Minds' GamesCom screenshot

© Orange

'Alt-Minds' GamesCom screenshot

© Orange



Reality and fiction as one

The primary goal of Alt-Minds is to complete a series of missions in a given week, consisting of a variety of puzzles and mysteries, and they range from tracking down a suspect by finding his nationality to using Google Maps to find a specific location. Solving one will lead to the next until the chapter is complete.

The main interface keeps a record of what sites you've been on, any messages you receive (including hints if you're struggling with a mission) and your overall progress. Throughout, players are ranked by how quickly they finish their objectives, with leaderboards allowing you to compare your progress and scores with your friends.

When you're watching camera footage from the point of view of a car driving down a highway, perhaps you'll spot a suspicious number plate. You can pause the video, use enhancement tools to make the image clearer and then type the number plate into Google for more clues.

Numerous fake websites have been produced for this very purpose, which pop up on search engines if the right search terms are entered. In addition, characters in the story have Facebook profiles that can be investigated - as well as friends and interact with the people themselves.


Into the real world

But it goes further than that - there may be instances where optionally sharing your number will result in you receiving texts relevant to the case. Similarly, you may uncover a phone number that you can dial and someone can pick up.

Lexis Numérique's Djamil Kemal also stated that there will be times where you could potentially take the investigation into the real world. The scenario he gave as an example involves the player finding out that a character is at a specific airport. Upon unearthing this fact, you could literally go to that airport and find the man to continue your investigation.

Kemal accepts that the vast majority will be too far away or won't be motivated enough to do that, but is excited nonetheless about how dedicated they are to provide a truly immersive experience.

'Alt-Minds' GamesCom screenshot

© Orange

'Alt-Minds' GamesCom screenshot

© Orange



For eight weeks only

The game requires some dedication - players will be expected to stick with it for eight weeks after all - but for anyone who misses a week or comes into it late, weekly recaps will get everyone caught up. The first week will be free for everyone to try out, but beyond that, those invested must pay a small weekly cost or get the season pass.

Alt-Minds is ambitious and something that many will no doubt find immersive and satisfying. It's fairly low-key but the dedicated will reap its rewards - the more you put into it, the more you're likely to get out of the experience.

The game is not for everyone, but for those who are intrigued by the project's potential to treat reality and fiction as one, this is surely one to try out.

Alt-Minds begins on Monday, November 12 and will be available on PC, Mac and various tablets.

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