So let's get to what impressed me so much that I felt I had to come back and write something just for this.
The Ironwood Hills hunt. I got a few notices about this from a few groups I'm subscribed to, and I love hunts, and this one had a HUD with a storyline? Definitely my kind of thing. So I grabbed my SL family and we set off with the intention of enjoying a game and then getting a bunch of free stuff at the end of it.
And boy, did Ironwood deliver.
As a warning, I took a lot of pictures there, and had to narrow it down to the few that could fit in this post.
To put it gently, even if you weren't there with the promise of reward or interactive story, Ironwood Hills would be beautiful. It is detailed and it is extravagant at the same time. There are so many areas that are more than just the hunt, and if you speed through it, you're going to miss a lot! Say, for example with some tiny spoilers, at one point you're to talk to someone at the Asylum. This person is in the reception area right at the front, but the rest of the Asylum is fully furnished! There are so many rooms! There's an upstairs!
I will also warn you: there was a lot of lag when when I went. I had to separate the storytime into two because the first time we all pretty much lagged out of the sim. There's a lot of interest in places like this, I'll tell you! An interactive story with prizes at the end? It's a goldmine if you want people coming to your sim.
The second time I went, it was much better, but still slow. I doubt you'll ever find a time when this place is empty of people, though, so go when you can before the interactive story ends!
Speaking of story, let's get on that: you're called in to look for a missing person by a certain Cyrus, who says that Alastor, the heir to the town founder, has been missing for a few days now. No one knows what happened to him, but he seemed a good sort and you're here to find him... or find out what happened to him. With the darkness and chaos in town, it really does seem like something bad's already happened to him... no one seems to blink an eye at the corpses strung in cafes or the bodies lying dead in pub bathrooms, after all.
It's very reminiscent of Silent Hill, and if anyone knows me at all, that's a strong compliment from me. I'm not sure the residents even see the true horror of their town, so used to it are they. It's like a personal purgatory of sorts.
Even more reminiscent is the direct homages they pay: the sirens drawing people to church, or even the Silent Hill theme playing in the mansion. The entire play is very atmospheric and draws you into the town like nothing else on Second Life. Even when the town is horrible and terrifying, there are parts that are somehow calm and beautiful as well. The pathway to the theatre is through a rainy forest with animals calmly grazing, and a treehouse hidden away. On the way to the carnival, there's a run down structure and lived in boat on the water.
I will admit I got lost a few times trying to figure out where things were, simply because I didn't realise Ironwood Hills was so immersive and large. If not for the lag, I would definitely go back to take more detailed pictures and maybe do a few poses. Heck, I might do that anyway in the next few days, simply because I just can't let something so beautiful slip away without photographic evidence.
I hope this place lasts for longer than October. Even without the prizes and interactive story, Ironwood Hills would be a place I would visit simply because. I'd love to see a Silent Hill roleplay here, without even needing the monsters.
I want to see more about this town, and more about the people of the town. The story HUD leaves everything ready for a sequel, but I'd love to hear more about all the other residents of Ironwood Hills. We encounter a colourful cast while exploring, and there's quite the history to this place. I feel like we've started this month's blogs with the very best already, and that might have been a mistake on my part.
(By the way, the prizes are definitely worth it.)