Our Bridge Command Experience, March 6th 2024

On Wednesday 6th March 2024, we were invited to a special PR day to visit the upcoming live interactive experience Bridge Command. Luke had been lucky enough to experience Bridge Command at MCM Comic Con, London in October 2023, but this was Matt’s first chance to get involved.

So, firstly, what is Bridge Command? It is a fully interactive starship bridge simulator, powered by technology and live actors. Although it rewards teamwork and has a high degree of interactivity, it is better to think of Bridge Command as a ‘live-action starship simulator-immersive theatre show’. Whilst there are beats that the crew will be required to hit, the mission itself is dependent on the decisions made by you and your team, and there is also the chance for story progression that rewards multiple visits and plays. The ships require a minimum of four crew members to operate and they can accommodate a crew of nine to fourteen people, all of whom will have jobs to do. 

Set in the year 2180, those participating are given a uniform and work as part of a crew. The ship you are assigned to is a complex organism that will require constant maintenance and each officer’s station has a different set of tasks to complete. Helm officers fly the ship, engineering officers keep it running, weapons officers manage the arsenal…you get the picture. During your mission, you will meet a variety of characters played by live actors, and your missions will involve an array of challenges. Above all, the story is in your hands – you and your fellow players will decide what to do as you explore the galaxy.

You can decide whether to participate in a Military Mission or an Exploration Mission, with the former providing greater levels of combat, and the content you will encounter in both is different. 

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, having participated in a mission alongside other media attendees, we can attest that Bridge Command is pretty good. In fact, it’s a whole lot of fun and genuinely delivers on its promise of real immersion. Alongside a group of friends or colleagues, this would be a great time together.

During our session aboard the USC Takanami (the second ship is named USC Havock), Luke was assigned to Weapons, part of the Operations subteam, and Matt was assigned to Power Management, part of the Engineering subteam. Essentially, our roles were to protect the ship in varying ways – Luke by force, and Matt by defence (though we both opted for attack with fully-powered missile attacks…). During the mission, the bridge was a bustling command centre, with collaborative instructions being shouted across the deck, crew members rushing about to offer assistance, and a fully stocked sound system generating atmospheric and battle noises from a…galaxy far, far away. In the end, the decision was taken to initiate our ship’s self-destruct procedure as we headed to the adjoined cargo ship and safety.

The exciting part is that there is more to be done than just simply pushing buttons or moving a slider or two, once you have your station, you are in command of it. Each decision directly impacts your station and that of everyone around you. Conversely, the gamesmaster – the chuckling puppeteer behind every mission – can at any time throw a spanner in the works or aid the crew if needed. During our mission, the ship lost all energy and power which required the fuel cells to be replaced in another part of the ship – not an automatic process but one that needs to be handled manually. It was just one example of the overall team effort required to achieve mission success or failure and helped to elevate the experience from simple immersion to the theatrical element that was promised.

Our taster session lasted for around fifteen minutes, following an extensive tour around the facility. However, when the experience opens to the public, mission experiences are expected to last for approximately seventy-five minutes. Additionally, experiences will include a training briefing, and the unit itself will host a themed bar, teleportation area and more. The entire package is shaping up to become a staple of London’s “must-dos” and the team at Bridge Command is confident that it will be a hit with genre fans and wider audiences alike. They also offer Cadet Missions for under-16s, though you are advised to contact the team if you intend to attend with kids.

After our mission, we sat down with Owen Kingston, the project’s Artistic Director, who explained his vision for Bridge Command, from inception to conception, and provided full details on what people can expect when they visit.

On the experience, Kingston said “I promise you you will not regret it. We are doing our best to deliver on what we promise […] There are a lot of immersive experiences out there, some of them are great, some of them less great, and if you’ve been to some and you’ve had your fingers burnt because they promised the Earth and delivered an atlas, we are working very hard to deliver on what we’re promising. You will get to come and fly a ship, be the bridge crew of it, and have a wicked time.”

“One of the things I was marvelling at is that this is a sprawling experience, it’s very big,” said Matt, with Luke adding “I walked out and thought, ‘Oh wow, they’ve gone in…they have gone in.

You can hear the full interview, along with our thoughts on the experience recorded at the nearby Market Place, in our related SWS Extra episode.

Bridge Command is located at 63 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TY and is a two-minute walk from Vauxhall tube, rail and bus station. The experience opens on 27th March 2024 with tickets ranging from £40-£60 (date and time dependant), though Bridge Command is in previews until 21st April 2024 and all performances are cheaper until then.

To book tickets, click here!

To see our full selection of images from the day, head over to the Gallery.