This past Tuesday, I had the chance to experience a new form of interactive entertainment in the form of a 2-hour immersive experience for the release of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film, Alita: Battle Angel. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL – PASSPORT TO IRON CITY allows guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the futuristic dystopian world from the upcoming film and become players in a large scale, interactive game in which you and your team are competing against others for the top prize.

PASSPORT TO IRON CITY is described as a place where guests have the chance to explore the movie’s Iron City, which has been recreated down to the last detail by the film’s production designers, where they will interact with the City’s gritty residents, earn credits by completing puzzles and challenges, experiment with custom technology built for the retro-future Alita aesthetic, and uncover hidden clues to determine their fate with the city’s controlling force. After their journey, guests will receive a unique post-experience Iron City assessment that assigns them to their individually tailored role within Iron City, based on the decisions they made while exploring the city. Each winning team will walk away with a unique Iron City souvenir.

Upon arriving, we were led into a room that is an exact replica of the historic Kansas bar, a pivotal location in the film. Placed throughout the bar were tables with iPads that corresponded to a specific team color, which guests are notified of upon entry. I was on team Black, so once I found my color, I took a seat and started messing around with the iPad. It’s important to read everything on the device as it gives the participant information about Iron City as well as clues that may help in collecting more coins. I was immediately taken aback by the amount of detail that went into the design of this bar, from the large neon letters that spelled KANSAS, to the interactive “Wanted” Posters that showcased some of the nefarious hunter-warriors on the loose, there was so much to take in and appreciate. Roaming about the space were Iron City residents who were quick to chat with anyone interested in learning secrets about their “beloved” City. But take heed that this City has many unsavory aspects, most of which come from what is known as The Factory. You’ll be quick to learn that THEY are always watching you…

Image Courtesy of Alita Experience

Once our entire team arrived, we were all brought to Iron City. Inside this space there was 10 teams, all of different colors, with six people on each team. Our objective was to collect as many coins as possible through various means, and whatever team won would be worthy of ascending to the city in the sky, otherwise known as Zalem. With 40 minutes on the clock, we began our adventure with the goal that we were going to conquer the shit out of this experience. For the next 40 minutes we solved puzzles, interacted with residence of the City in exchange for coins, rummaged through a cyborg scrapyard, and bet on racers at the Motorball Stadium. Everything was incredibly interactive and fast paced which made the rush for the ultimate win that much more exhilarating. Prior to entering Iron City, guests are given a pamphlet which has a map of the entire space that includes markers that corresponded to the areas you could visit. This pamphlet is like the Bible and you’ll want to study it while you are hanging out at the Kansas bar as it’ll help you when it comes time to navigate the city. Also, don’t worry about having not seen the film, no spoilers are given out during the experience and there is enough information provided to fill you in on what to expect prior to entering Iron City.

From a designers perspective, my mind was blown with what the creatives geniuses at iam8bit accomplished. The level of detail was unparalleled, allowing everyone who entered to feel as if they were transported to a whole different world. Whether it was the bar or the actually city, everything was constructed to make you feel like you weren’t in Los Angeles, and that’s something that I deeply appreciated. As someone who enjoys immersive experiences, this particular event was unlike anything else I’ve done, though it did combine familiar aspects seen in a lot of immersive events. Most interesting to me was the idea of us making our decisions through a non-linear path instead of being told exactly what we needed to do. I think this will take some fine-tuning in order for the experience to be more seamless, but I think what the Alita Experience is trying to accomplish through this is highly ambitious and it makes me excited to see what the future holds for more interactive media such as this.

Image Courtesy of Alita Experience

My only real critique of the event is in regards to the set up. There are 60 people going in at a time and there’s a lot happening all around you. With an experience such as this, which allows your team to form its own path, it’s difficult, at times, to wrangle everyone in order to accomplish a goal. There’s were also moments where our group found ourselves standing around waiting to do a puzzle or game because all the other activities were already occupied. However, there was an overarching game that could be played, though we never were able to figure out how to solve the puzzle. Even so, the other games that we participated in were all different from one another which added to the uniqueness of the experience. It also allowed each player to shine in a different way whether that was through the use of logic, risk-taking, problem solving, etc. In the end, our team dominated by working together and taking risks which allowed us to take the top prize and ascend to Zalem.

Overall, PASSPORT TO IRON CITY was an incredibly unique and jaw-dropping experience. There is still some fine tuning that needs to be done, but I believe that by the time it’s open to the public, all the kinks will be worked out. The event, from start to finish, is about 2 hours long so make sure to plan accordingly when you get tickets. Speaking of which, I would highly suggest purchasing your tickets now as they are only $25 from Jan. 23 – Feb. 13, after which they will increase to $55. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL – PASSPORT TO IRON CITY will open in Los Angeles starting January 23, New York on January 26, and Austin on January 29th. So grab your closest friends, order your tickets now, and see where fate will take you! Who knows, maybe you’ll end up becoming a new and improved cyborg version of yourself! For more information, and to purchase tickets, for ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL – PASSPORT TO IRON CITY visit and make sure to check out Alita: Battle Angel when it arrives in theaters February 14th.

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