Evermore claims that it’s big finale would happen on November 3rd. Some of its fanboys passed that claim on to me. I wound up going to Evermore on November 3rd because I figured, hey, it may be Saturday and it will no doubt be way too crowded, but if they do this right I will only need to complete one quest, and if they do it wrong I will not actually have anything to do, so the long lines won’t matter. They did it wrong.
The story of Evermore has been weirdly aimless until now. Plenty of people have helped the Nettletons in the Auctioneer quest and subsequently joined the hunters in the Hunter quest (a decent chunk have additionally completed the other two tarot quests, but they’re more like side quests with little connection to the main plot). By the time I’d got to the end at Halloween I actually assumed that the Fey King plot was going to be multi-arc, to get more use out of that giant animatronic (though I questioned how well he’d stand up to the snow), since the quests we’d completed showed no signs of even getting close to completing it. Lantern bearer Faldo/Falda claimed the Fey King’s true form was out in the woods somewhere and only possessed the animatronic from time to time (a reasonably clever way of explaining why that animatronic is sometimes dormant), early stages of the Nettleton quest (possibly later ones, too?) asserted that Finley had been infected from the woods, and the hunters stated they didn’t let worldwalkers into the woods because it wasn’t safe. It all seemed to be building up to a confrontation in the woods with the source of the plague, if not with the Fey King himself.
That never happened. Really, in the end, we may as well have not even shown up for all that worldwalkers contributed to the actual fight against the Fey King. We ran errands for the Nettletons and Thurgood, which was not a bad way to introduce the problem, but was nothing they couldn’t have done for themselves. I don’t mean in the “I refuse to be immersed” “are we really the most qualified hunters because we spent thirty minutes practicing archery to get one bullseye, I mean, come on” sense, but rather in the sense that the quest literally only required us to deliver items from one to the other. Towards the beginning it at least involved interrogating some vampires in a mausoleum that was allegedly dangerous, but later stages of the quest didn’t even involve that. I did more good for Evermore running fake anti-hex talismans to Duffy because the courage was in him all along than I did in any of the tarot quests.
What did happen was that Wyn Weaver and Wiccam put aside their differences to close the portal – something they could apparently have done just whenever and waited around out of nothing but dislike for one another – but trapped Clara Nettleton on the other side. She’d run in because she was afraid of infecting her new fiance, the barkeep Suds, and they sealed it up behind her. The next day, Thurgood finished his cure, so, not spectacular long term planning skills on Clara’s part. Also, Mother Nature/Mother Earth/Shiri confronted the Fey King in the town square and healed him. I mean, he’s still a giant evil-looking animatronic and not a regular looking fairy, but he stopped being a colossal jerk to everyone. Also, there’s a handful of hints that there are greater evils out in the forest, which will presumably make trouble come December.
I have not directly spoken with any of the champions, however it does appear as though their participation mainly amounted to having front row seats to events that nevertheless played out pretty much completely without their involvement. They stood on stage instead of off to the side, but they were still just watching events play out. I wasn’t there for the earliest bits of the night, however (a quick nap ended with me sleeping through my alarm for over an hour, which gives you an idea of how much extra work I’m doing right now), so the exclusive champion quest may actually have been vital to getting Wiccam and Wyn Weaver to reconcile and close that portal. Even that may or may not have actually been a huge deal. The direction the plot was going earlier was towards the darkness in the forest, where Finely was infected, where the hunters wouldn’t let you in unless you were qualified (and then, psyche, not even then). If the champions got an additional side quest involving Wyn Weaver and Wiccam that still ultimately comes down to just asking the two to kiss and make up, then eh, whatever, that wouldn’t be a big deal, if everyone else got to have their moment where they go into the woods, get chased by a monster, and escape by the skin of their teeth with the final ingredient needed to make the cure (or whatever). If that’s the only conclusion that anyone ever got, then what the Hell, why would you give the build up to that climax to everyone, hold the climax hostage to a contest, and then tell everyone else to come back for the denouement?
The lack of a resolution has been a frequent complaint amongst park guests, frequent enough that I’ve overheard people talking about it on multiple occasions just while wandering around. Now, maybe watching a two minute stage play in which the problem gets resolved without our help ever having been significant is enough for some people, but firstly, I wouldn’t be sure about that, people definitely noticed that the plot had no particular resolution and became aimless after the hunter quest, so betting on the Evermore audience not to notice failures of craft has not been the winning move so far.
And secondly, even if having the conclusion to your allegedly interactive, immersive plot be an uninteractive vignette played out on a stage turns out to be good enough for most people, most people did not actually get that. I was in Evermore when this happened, there were, like, two or three hundred people here for the finale (by which I mean the specific finale events – there were very likely more total guests for that day), but the park brings in 1,000+ on Saturdays alone, with similar numbers on Friday and smaller but still significant populations on weekdays. Even assuming the Saturday crowd is the exact same people coming back weekly every single time, this Saturday’s crowd was not appreciably bigger than the last Saturday I went. It may have even been smaller. This finale did not draw in a whole lot of people like me who usually visit on other days. Speaking personally, even if there had been some kind of climactic quest available today, it still would’ve been a little disappointing, because all of my actual friends in Evermore have been replaced by mysterious dopplegangers. The Wednesday cast isn’t here, the Saturday cast is, and I have to start every conversation with a reminder to the actors that our characters know each other, despite the fact that many of them have never seen me before and most of the exceptions haven’t seen me since preview night clear back on September 8th.
Evermore’s pace grinds to a halt halfway through its story, not simply because there are villains left to defeat (personally defeating the Fey King is impossible simply on the grounds that it can only happen once), but because there is never any climax, nor really any point at which the worldwalkers do something that the townspeople of Evermore couldn’t have done for themselves. I’m entirely willing to meet the park halfway on this kind of thing, and just assume for the sake of suspension of disbelief that becoming a hunter/knight really was an important pre-requisite to entering some kind of haunted house with a plot coupon hiding in the middle, even if the skills tested for and oaths sworn never actually come up. That didn’t actually happen, though. The plot grinds to a halt right before the climax, never resumes, and then Evermore solves its issues on its own initiative. Why did I even show up?