Phantom Peak review: Highly ambitious steampunk Westworld like entering a video game
17th August 2022

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Immersive experiences are all the rage and one of this summer’s latest additions in London is Phantom Peak. Just like the likes of Secret Cinema, those who attend are invited to explore a fictional world with actors playing the characters who live there. This one sells itself as “the Venice of the West”, a steampunk frontier town shrouded in mystery.

Located by Canada Water, Phantom Peak consists of two main immersive areas, with wooden boardwalks containing shops, fairground games, bars and restaurants along a purpose-built canal leading to a waterfall feature around the corner. 

The second is the “Old Town”, found inside a connecting building where a Wild West bar and a crashed blimp are located.

Throughout this Westworld-like experience, guests are offered missions in the style of a video game side quest via a website accessed on our smartphones, telling us where to go next.

The purpose is to solve the town’s mysteries including the tragic death of the old mayor Dr Joylon S Furbish, who perished in the airship’s fate.

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The 25 live actors playing a whole host of eccentric characters fed us slithers of information on Phantom Peak’s past as we helped one locate her lost platypus, using some fun interactive steampunk contraptions along the way.

The company JONACO and its owner, the ever elusive Jonas, now run the town with many of its residents mindlessly praising him, Yet this man is nowhere to be seen, suggesting a folk horror twist to the storyline that sadly is never fully realised.

The missions were good fun, but largely inconsequential and with 50 in total promised in the future, presumably the creators are hoping for multiple visits.

Yet what’s really missing during this immersive experience is a climax where secrets are unveiled and this Jonas guy actually turns up.

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No doubt only those guests taking the storyline this seriously will be bothered by this, while the more casual punters will enjoy the attraction for what it is.

If anything Phantom Peak is perfect for a date night, with bars and the steampunk carnival games on offer. The open sandbox structure is one of its biggest strengths.

Although, with only vegetarian and vegan food on offer we were somewhat taken out of the Wild West experience, having hoped for some good old-fashioned BBQ. Surely all three options could be on offer?

My vegan hot dog was tasty enough, but with only a small cup of crisps instead of fries on the side didn’t make it feel like the food was exceptional value for money.

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Our biggest frustration with Phantom Peak was how its high ambition and creativity weren’t matched by its budget.

We’ve seen much better and more convincing sets at Secret Cinema and especially at the newly opened The Gunpowder Plot at the Tower of London.

Even the indoor boat ride was a little disappointing but did have some impressive visuals teasing the town’s history.

What’s encouraging is that the immersive experience claims it is “constantly evolving” with “additional phases in production”. Here’s hoping it can grow and live up to its wonderful imagination. 

To find out more about Phantom Peak and book tickets, click here.

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