Last weekend I visited Otherworld in Columbus, Ohio. It was a lot of fun! It’s a sort of immersive art experience in the vein in the vein of Meow Wolf. But whereas House of Eternal Return was a bunch of artists coming together to create a single thing, Otherworld seems to have a much more singular focus. As I explored with my friends, we slowly began to realize that there was a puzzle to solve here. The clues were sparse and didn’t perfectly fit together, which we suspected was because the show isn’t finished yet—it’s only been open about a month. I’m excited to visit again in a year and see how things have evolved.
I think my favorite part of the design was how gracious it was to the guests. The world-building preamble is in a side room off the main entrance that’s easy to miss and—more importantly—easy to skip. There’s a loose framing narrative around the idea that we are test subjects for some sort of experiement, and a mystery to uncover around how and why things started going wrong, but ignoring all of that does not at all detract from the main experience. It would be easy as a designer to force the audience through some sort of expository preshow and, like the old Hydrolators at EPCOT, that preshow would probably be forcefully disabled very quickly. Well done, Otherworld!
— on John Holdun’s Microblog