The Disappearance of Cadet Turner Review

By | Friday, June 19, 2020 8 comments
The Disappearance of Cadet Turner logo
Back in November, I made note of The Mysterious Package Company's new experience, The Disappearance of Cadet Turner. This one starts with a fairly simple envelope, which includes a letter thanking you for your interest in the recently revived Super Star Cadets property and an official patch with your cadet number embroidered on it. When you go to the URL mentioned in the letter and log in with your cadet number, you're then kicked off on an adventure! A woman tells you about her childhood friend that seemed to have been sucked into the Super Star Cadets comic book and, since you happen to have the same badge number as he did, she feels it must be kismet and you must be able to help her. She then sends you the various materials she's collected and it's up to you to rescue her long-lost friend.

The box you get then includes a "vintage" Super Star Cadets lunch box, a somewhat damaged Super Star Cadets comic book, a cassette and headphones, some Polaroids, and a variety of correspondence. As with the other experience I got from them, the materials are excellent. Everything looks appropriately aged and used -- even bits from the comic had been cut out, not unlike the handful of issues from my youth that are missing coupons to get a comic subscription or a 'footlocker' of army soldiers. Also, I thought Polaroid had shut down their film division a few yeas ago, and I'm pretty sure I haven't seen even a photo of a 1/4" headphone adapter in at least 30 years! I've no idea how they got some of this stuff!

The overall story experience here is shorter than Forgotten Tomb one I had previously, but that's hardly a surprise given that it's about half the price. A more noteworthy difference, though, is that this one has more of a game element to it than the Forgotten Tomb. Forgotten Tomb was primarily a clever storytelling experience. There were a few puzzles that could be examined and worked on, but if you didn't solve them, you could still carry on with the story. With Cadet Turner, the puzzles are integral to the story and without completing them all, you simply can't reach the conclusion. Now, admittedly, these puzzles aren't particularly difficult but they also can't really be done in isolation from one another. You almost have to set aside an hour or two to go through them all at once. I suspect this is done to increase engagement since there aren't as many individual mailings to keep your interest up over a several weeks.

The other significant change over previous experiences is that they've added a virtual component. They recognize that the audio cassette they send likely isn't able to be played by the vast majority of people, so they have a digital version you can download. This then requires the user to "scan" (i.e. use the phone's camera on) some of the objects, and there's a clever AR integration for the last steps of the overall puzzle. I don't know how it works for iOS but it ran smoothly on my Android. However, I did not seem to be able to pause/save my progress, and I had to repeat some tasks after leaving the app and returning the next day. That's why I'd suggest setting aside an hour or two to go through puzzle aspects at once. (Possibly longer if you've got a child working on it.)

Like everything else I've seen from The Mysterious Package Company, this was all exceptionally well done! I am more partial to the Forgotten Tomb experience, I think, because it's a longer narrative, a larger "payoff" and it's easier to pick up and set down things at your leisure over a period of days or even weeks. But it's also got a considerably higher price tag, so it's a more "elite" experience by design. But that doesn't take away from the more fun aspects of The Disappearance of Cadet Turner; I think a 10 or 12 year old would have an absolute blast with this! (Although you might have to sit down and spend a lot of time explaining to them what a cassette is and what a Polaroid is and...)

They've currently got a 25% off sale running through June 21. If you're looking to fill some more COVID time, now would definitely be a great time to jump on this!
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Matt K said...

Wow this sounds amazing.

When I was I kid I probably would have outright died of excitement with this.

Oh, yeah, I would've been ALL about this kind of thing back in the day!

nate said...

What is your estimate of the time one should set aside for the whole experience?

For example, is it likely an adult would complete the full experience in the course of 2 or 3 hours, ie, one evening sitting?

Or might it take a couple such sessions to digest the whole thing?

For Cadet Turner, you'd need at least an hour but probably not more than two.

b.gyger said...

So we’ve figured out the cassette player (or so we thought) but we’re stuck. You mentioned a secret feature and that’s where I think we messed up. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone else by posting too much here. Help? Can I send you a private message with a clarifying question?

Feel free to shoot me an email (sean @ seankleefeld . com) but it's been two and a half years since I worked on this, so I'm not sure how much help I'd be.

b.gyger said...

Thanks for the reply! We were missing a very simple step to head the cassette and thoroughly enjoyed the ending once we got that straightened out 😊

Fantastic! Very glad to hear you got it sorted and enjoyed the experience!