An installation in Otherworld

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