Arts Review Singapore

★★★★☆ Review: Adventures of Temporal Displacement Agency by Void Deck Games

Time traveling shenanigans abound in this WWII-themed LARP experience.

If it’s one local company that knows how games can be used to tell great stories, it’s Void Deck Games. Known for their immersive roleplaying experiences, the team has finally had the chance to return to real spaces, after primarily dabbling in the digital realm during the early stages of the pandemic, with Adventures of Temporal Displacement Agency (TDA).

Held at the Substation, the experience is set in an alternative reality, where participants join a shadowy agency as ‘Void Navigators’. Sent back in time to 1942, your task is to stop Singapore from falling to the Japanese during WWII. But like all time travel narratives, you might want to think about the massive changes that act might have on the future of our island nation.

What Void Deck Games does best is their prep work; even before the show, participants were given instructions on certain clothing to wear or items to bring. All of this was to mentally prepare us for the experience, and to better look the part of our character, for maximum effect once we stepped into the space.

On the day of our experience, we arrived early for the briefing, led through the rules of engagement and gameplay structure. As with every LARP, the more immersed you are in the game’s world, the more fun you’re likely to have, and we started by leaving our real world lives behind, and learning more about this agency, with a crash course on how to embody our characters: a doctor, a historian, a photo journalist, a cosplayer, and a soldier.

While one fully expects to be thrown into the deep end, Void Deck Games made sure that the process remained accessible for both complete newbies and seasoned LARPers. There were efforts to take it slow, with the team taking the time to get everyone in the mood and relaxed enough to get comfortable with each other, and really immerse ourselves in this fictional world. It felt like an inclusive experience for all, as we got to know the group and bond over this introductory lesson, aligning ourselves to what we believe in and solidifying our backstories and belief.

We were now ready to go on our adventure. As the doors swung open, we were led into the agency, and briefed on the mission that awaited us, while also given time to ask questions, both about the mission and TDA itself. With our supplies in hand, it was time to head to the portal that would bring us back to 1942, where every decision we made from here on would affect the final outcome of the story.

Not to spoil any more of the experience – but in short, what followed was a series of events in quick succession, set off by our choice of approach. We’re not the only ones playing – we’re introduced to even more characters before long, as they lead us on a madcap journey, filled with secrets, terrible revelations, betrayals, and plenty of twists along the way. What was clear was how much planning went into curating this experience – due to the sheer number of outcomes that could happen at any point, thanks to players making decisions at every step of the way, the possibilities were practically endless. But every scenario was prepared for, with the actors knowing their role and exactly how to react, allowing the entire experience to run smoothly and keep us invested in this world that they created.

Backed up by a strong degree of historical research, leading to fantastic yet plausible consequences of messing with time, Adventures of Temporal Displacement Agency ended with the team working together, pulling through and saving the day. Not only was this thanks to the degree of motivation each person had to succeed, but also the facilitators from Void Deck Games for giving us that push and all the tools we needed to make us truly believe in this world for a moment, and become a part of it. It isn’t always easy to let your apprehension go, but in situations like these, you learn to leave your inhibitions at the door, and allow yourself to escape from reality, and immerse yourself in the art of play.

Catch the playback of various videos of the run on Void Deck Games’ Twitch stream

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