Within the past year or so, studios have been working overtime to allow fans the chance to immerse themselves in the world of their creations. We’ve seen everything from It’s Neibolt House to the complex sci-fi world of Ready Player One. However, while attending San Diego Comic-Con, I had the chance to step inside the world of one of my favorite television shows, MR. MERCEDES, based on the detective trilogy from horror master Stephen King.
For those not familiar with AT&T AUDIENCE Network show MR. MERCEDES, it centers around retired detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) and the cat-and-mouse game that he is playing with the infamous Mercedes killer, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway). To prepare for Season 2, which premiered last week, AT&T presented the Mr. Mercedes Experience at SDCC which gave fans the opportunity to “play the virtual reality (VR) escape room game, ‘Mr. Mercedes: Lair Escape,’ on the HTC Vive Pro, the ‘Mr. Mercedes: Finders Keepers’ augmented reality (AR) adventure game, where they can collect clues to unlock never-before-seen content and special prizes,” as well as a walk-through of the show’s recreation of Finders Keepers, Mercy General Hospital and Brady’s Lair.
For those who need a refresher on what to expect from Season 2, “the series picks up a year after Brady Hartsfield’s thwarted attempt to perpetrate a second mass murder in the community of Bridgton, Ohio. Since the incident, Hartsfield has been hospitalized in a vegetative state. Retired Detective Hodges has done his best to move on from his Brady obsession, teaming up with Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe) to open Finders Keepers, a private investigative agency. But when unexplainable occurrences begin to affect hospital staff members attending to Brady, Hodges is haunted by the feeling that Brady is somehow responsible.”
When it came to activations at SDCC, this was the one that I was looking forward to the most. Upon entering, I passed by the set of the electronic store where Brady worked as I headed towards the VR. As I’ve talked about in many VR reviews, these experiences can be either hit or miss, but in the case of “Mr. Mercedes: Lair Escape,” it was a total hit. The technology used was easy to understand and the experience as a whole was engaging and completely immersive. This was the first time that I had done a more escape room level VR experience and I loved how that was incorporated into the game as it helped in raising the stakes by making the viewer want to succeed with their task. Though I lost the game (by seconds!!), I really enjoyed how realistic that overall experience was and the fun easter eggs that we had to find to complete the mission.
After the VR, I downloaded an app, titled Mr. Mercedes: Finders Keepers. This was to be used in conjunction with an AR (augmented reality) experience in which participants could assist Detective Hodges investigation into the supernatural occurrences surrounding Brady and his hospitalization. Guests were ushered around the building to certain items where they would scan a QR code which would give hints on what to expect from the upcoming season. From what I understand, this AR can also be accessed from home as well, though I haven’t yet had the chance to try it. There is also a Fishin’ Hole game, which you might be familiar with from the show, that can also be played at home. To say that what these creators conceived was brilliant would be a huge understatement as I found myself incredibly impressed with the amount of detail and dedication that went into this entire experience, regardless of it technology was used or not.
After swiping all the QR codes, we were then taken to the basement where we got the opportunity to check out part of the set from the show that featured Brady’s Lair. To me, as a designer, this was heaven, as I got to sit at Brady’s desk and look at actual props from the film such as his diary/notebook, pictures, and more. Aside from Brady’s lair, guests also had the chance to walk through the recreation of Finders Keepers and Mercy Hospital where they could find Brady through the use of projection mapping. After we finished walking through the set pieces, we then had the chance to catch a sneak peek of Season 2 in one of their screening rooms on-site, and let me tell you, the clips we saw did not disappoint.
After the event ended, I was pulled aside and informed that part of the cast was in attendance if I wanted to take pictures. Inside the Finders Keepers area were actors Breeda Wool, who plays Lou), Justine Lupe (who plays Holly), and Maximiliano Hernandez (who plays Assistant DA Antonio Montez), along with show-runner Jack Bender. It was really awesome to see them interacting in the space and taking pictures with fans and media alike. I was lucky enough to snag a picture with Breeda and Maximiliano as well as experience the lenticular photo booth, which merged my face into Brady’s.
Overall, the Mr. Mercedes Experience was hands-down my favorite experience at SDCC. Having now dived into Season 2 of the show, the experience definitely prepared me for what was to unfold while allowing me to be immersed in a fully detailed world that captured the essence of the show.
Check out Season 2 of Mr. Mercedes Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AT&T AUDIENCE Network.
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