Star Wars Unlock! Secret Mission on Jedha | Review

Image

You are an Imperial spy sent to infiltrate the Holy City of Jedha. An Imperial pilot transporting a crate of priceless kyber crystals crashed their Zeta- class cargo shuttle on the surface. You must retrieve the crate without alerting the Rebel scum Saw Gerrera or any of his lawless mercenaries on Jedha. There is an Imperial informant waiting for you on the surface with more details. Meanwhile, Imperial Command orbits Jedha in a Star Destroyer. They are within communications range and expect regular updates.

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 43:42
Date Played: 4th May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Fans of Star Wars

We made it! Only ~5 months after I purchased Star Wars Unlocked! as a Christmas gift for my Player 2, we finally got to tackling the grand finale: Secret Mission on Jedha. I literally could not think of a more perfect day to play this than… You guessed it! May the 4th. *darth vader breathing intensifies*

Before we begin, you can check out my review for the two earlier parts of this boxed trilogy, An Unforseen Delay and Escape from Hoth here. Since each story in this game is a whole hour-long standalone game, I’ve chosen to review the three of them separately.

The Story

Unlike the other two stories, Secret Mission on Jedha lets you play as the bad guys (“finally!” says Player 2) and I have to say despite not being a Star Wars fan I’m learning a lot about the films through playing this, such as the names of planets, what symbols the good and bad guys use, and schematics of spaceships.

This game starts with you arriving at the Holy City of Jedha – there’s a rumour of a crate of priceless ‘Kyber Crystals’ in a crash landed wreckage somewhere on this planet. But, given the planet’s reputation for lawlessness if you don’t hurry up those crystals will find their way onto the black market faster than you can say “May the 4th be with you”.

What follows is more of a journey than an ‘escape room’ but nonetheless packed with fun escape room style puzzles to solve as you sneak your way into and out of market places and keep an eye out for rebels. At several moments in the game peripheral characters treat you with suspicion and worry. You also get to arrest people.

I pause…

The Experience

Unlock! games are played via a deck of cards and a mobile app. Just like An Unforseen Delay and Escape from Hoth, Secret Mission on Jedha is one of the most high tech escape rooms I’ve played in the Unlock! series so far, which makes sense with as big a collaboration as Star Wars! What this means for the player is that as well as the usual lock mechanism and machinery you can manipulate via the app, Unlock! Star Wars will also have you piloting millennium falcons and speaking alien languages.

The cards on the other hand work as follows: each card has a number on it and only when you ‘discover’ the number can you draw it from the deck. When you come across code or machine cards (yellow and green) you must head to the app and get technical! This game also gave us a map of the local area – a huge help in keeping our bearings in the environment as we, quite literally, searched for treasure!

I have to admit it was also quite fun being the baddies for once. I can’t believe I’m admitting it but we were disappointed you couldn’t be even more deadly in this game. A Storm Trooper leaving an enemy rebel sniper alive to escape? Unlikely! Where did we put that pistol card?!

The Puzzles

Secret Mission on Jedha is the most difficult of the three games available in this series however we found it easy enough. At each stage it was fairly intuitive what to do next and by the time you’ve played through all three you’ll generally be able to get the gist of what the game wants you to do. So our time of 43 minutes and 0 hints isn’t bad!

In this game players can expect to encounter many puzzles which rely on observation skills – how well were you paying attention, and how closely can you examine a card. Where the difficulty ramps up is in those moments where you have to think laterally and logically about your situation. A hypothetical question might be that you need fuel. You’ve got to think about what you might do to find fuel, or create fuel, what energy sources are available. Questions like this left us scratching our heads on more than one occasion.

Overall

I’m not a Star Wars fan but I really enjoyed playing Secret Mission on Jedha alongside the others in the Star Wars series. This game is an absolute must-buy for any Star Wars fans in your lives, but even if you’re just along for the ride to solve puzzles, this game is completely accessible to everyone. Unlock! have done some really special stuff with the Star Wars universe and created some wonderful adventure-themed puzzles to boot. Nice work!

Star Wars Unlock! can be purchased from most major online retailers for around £35 GBP

Star Wars Unlock!: An Unforseen Delay | Review

Image

You are smugglers in the Outer Rim, facing danger and the unexpected every day. Today, while transporting expensive cargo belonging to Jabba the Hutt, you are intercepted by an Imperial Star Destroyer! Imperial operatives impound your ship and confiscate everything in your cargo bay. You know it is only a matter of time before they take a close look and discover Jabba‘s hidden illegal goods. There‘s no time to waste. You need to break out of your cell, rescue your astromech and get hold off the cargo. Then all you need to do is recover your ship and escape!

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 35:36
Date Played: 26th February 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Star Wars Fans, people who love an adventure

An Unforseen Delay is the second boxed game in the Star Wars Unlock! series, after Escape from Hoth and part two in my effort to find a play at home escape game my Player 2 loves as much as I do. This time round we’re playing ‘grey area’ smugglers, arrested and locked away by the bad guys (the Imperials – see, I’m learning). In all sense of the word, it’s a true escape room. You must escape!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not really a Star Wars fan, so consider this review a bit of an ‘outsider’ perspective, with more of a focus on whether the game is fun for non-Star Wars folks. I reckon the vast majority of people picking up this game will be into Star Wars but just in case you’re not – you can still have fun! There’s one or two moments in which context is important. For example, if you recognise R2D2 as an astromech droid you’ll know what they can (and can’t) fix. But if you didn’t have the context, you’d probably trip up and make a couple of mistakes before getting it correct.

So how did we get on?

In this team of 2, I think we smashed it at 35 minutes! Maybe one of the fastest Unlock! game times I’ve managed – but don’t quote me on that. We used 4 hints, which in hindsight we probably didn’t need to use – but I’m very much a “just ask for a hint” person, no shame.

Unlock! games have pretty cool gameplay mechanics, and as part of the Star Wars franchise this one was delightfully high tech. The game is essentially composed of a deck of cards and a mobile app. Each card has a number on it and only when you ‘discover’ the number (for example by spotting it hidden in an image, by adding two cards together, or by being told to) can you draw it from the deck. When you come across code or machine cards (yellow and green) you must head to the app and do something there. This ranges from entering a simple 4 digit code, to super cool augmented reality graphics and complex manoeuvres to perform on the screen.

An added bonus in Unlock! Star Wars is that you get “help”. At the start of the game you get to draw a number of helper cards which give you hints to use at particular moments in the game, for example a clue to solving a puzzle or a reminder to do something *cough* which despite the warning I actually failed to do during the game.

An Unforseen Delay is the 2nd hardest in the Star Wars series (or 2nd easiest, depending how you look at it). Ironically though, we found it about the same as Escape from Hoth, if not possibly slightly easier. But this massively depends on what you want in a game. I’ve played a lot of Unlock! and so expected certain puzzles not present in Escape from Hoth but that were present in An Unforseen Delay. So take that however you like!

However, just like Escape from Hoth, this game makes excellent use of the app! In particular, the ‘end game’ puzzle once you finally do break out of your prison cell, rescue your cargo and go to fly out of the base. All at once the game became like an actual video game and despite a few mistakes made early on, we managed to ace it in true Disney / Star Wars “woohoo we saved the day” style.

Overall, we really enjoyed it. Honestly, I tend to enjoy a game a lot more if my Player 2 enjoys it and as a Star Wars fan, all the boxes were ticked. It wasn’t the hardest game, nor the easiest, and I’m still not sure who is who in the Star Wars universe. But there’s something extra fun about being able to geek out, put on the music, make a themed cocktail, and immerse yourself in a sci-fi world.

Star Wars Unlock! can be purchased from most major online retailers for around £35 GBP

Star Wars Unlock!: Escape From Hoth

Image

Echo Base, an important Rebel stronghold, has managed to remain hidden on the ice planet Hoth for some time. The hostile climate provides excellent cover and protection from the Empire- but you must always remain vigilant! You head out on a routine patrol with your trusty tauntaun mount, a hearty creature native to Hoth. After an uneventful morning, you take a brief break to rest your tauntaun while you contact Echo Base with an update. However, due to heavy atmospheric disturbance, you can‘t reach them. Your mission: Continue your patrol, explore the ice planet, and contact Echo Base!

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 36:07
Date Played: 17th January 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Star Wars Fans, people who love an adventure

Ever since Christmas, where I bought Player 2 the Star Wars Unlock! set I’ve been nagging him. “Hey, wanna play this? Wanna play now?” until FINALLY, it was time. Snacks at the ready, Star Wars soundtrack playing in the background, we took an adventure into the ice planet Hoth.

Now, full disclaimer, I’m not really a Star Wars fan. But I AM an escape room fan *glances around at this blog*, clearly. Unlock! manages to perfectly straddle the two ‘genres’ by positioning itself as a Star Wars adventure with more than a few puzzles to solve along the way. Sure, there’s some cool lore for the Star Wars enthusiast to be excited about, and something for the puzzler in all of us to enjoy. Even if you don’t know what a Tauntaun is, you’ll pick it up along the way!

The story in Escape From Hoth is quite self explanatory if the title is anything to go by. You play one of the ‘good guys’ (I think they’re called rebels but I’m sure it’s more complicated than that), out on a routine trip with your horned woolly camel (oh sorry wait, it’s a tauntaun). Suddenly the weather worsens and your comms go down – what’s more you’ve spotted some imperial (bad guy) droids and you urgently need to relay your message before there’s an attack.

As with all Unlock! games what unfolds is essentially a card based game where you must search the area, solve puzzles and fix broken machines in order to draw new numbered cards from the deck. Each card does a certain thing, for example a blue and a red card go together (for example, a gun and a tauntaun WAIT NO DON’T DO THAT!!). The numbers are added together and if it’s a correct combo, you draw that new card. Yellow refers to a code, and green refers to a machine. The latter two require the use of a mobile app where you can pop codes in and interact with your environment.

One thing about Unlock! games is that unlike a real escape room you don’t have the luxury of trying everything. For the majority of the game our character carried a gun and yep, you bet we tried (or at least considered – there’s a penalty you know!) firing it at everything. It encourages players to think really hard about what they’re doing and why. I enjoy this aspect a lot, even if I am the typical button masher in the group.

The coolest thing about Escape From Hoth was just that, the interactivity. At one point, you use your phone as binoculars looking around the landscape trying to spot things. In another moment, your phone becomes a control panel and you must flick switches, move dials and attach wires. It’s really quite fun, and in some ways a technological step-up from the other Unlock! games I’ve played so far.

Another really cool addition was the hints system. At the start of the game you can select three power-ups that will help you succeed. Essentially, they’re clue cards, and they each say things like “when you reach a certain location, draw X card” and so on. Of course, if you find yourself really stuck there is a walkthrough in the box itself. You’ll never be too far away from the next step.

That said, what Escape From Hoth excelled at in technology and cool new features, I did find it slightly lacking in puzzles. True, it’s the easiest of the three Star Wars Unlock! games in the box! I’ve no doubt the other two will be a lot harder, but this was definitely our fastest escape time. If not for snack breaks, taking photos, and pausing to grab another beer from the fridge, I reckon we’d have finished the whole thing in under 30 minutes. Maybe even 20.

Although if that sounds like a negative, please don’t take it that way! It just meant it was the perfect light game for a sunny Sunday afternoon. I’ve been having a lot of puzzle/escape room fatigue lately (wait what?! yes! I’m sorry!), but something short and sweet and embedded in a fun fantasy world was just the ticket. You could pair this game with one of the films, or just play it whilst hanging out with friends and family.

Star Wars Unlock! can be purchased from most major online retailers for around £35 GBP

STL Fantasy Maps: Escape the Empire

Image

*dun dunnnnn dun dun dun deee dunnnnn*

ESCAPE THE EMPIRE! An play at home adventure from STL Fantasy Maps set in a galaxy far far away!

Rating: Outstanding
Completion Time: 2 hours (over 2 days)
Date Played: 2nd – 3rd of May 2020
Party Size: 2

Since Escape the Empire took us about 2 hours over 2 different days – for that reason, I’m not calling it a classic escape room. It’s an adventure-come-party-game.

First you choose your character from a selection of booklets … Each character has different skills and different secret information that will help them in the game.

Then, in character (and costume if you fancy!) you and your crew have 5 missions to complete, with two fun ‘bonus missions’. The missions aren’t too long apiece, maybe 15 or so minutes between them – which is a nice pace to go out and enough in each to keep everyone busy!

The bonus missions by contrast are just brilliant. One of them has you attach little light sabres to your thumbs and take on a thumb war to determine the champion (who gets to wear a badge for the rest of the game). The other has a player blindfolded as you guide them through an asteroid belt.


And how was it? Brilliant!

I’m so inspired and wish I could play it again after the quarantine with a larger group. So if you’re ever planning a Star Wars themed party this game is an absolute must!

But most of all, I loved this game because it’s so obvious how much love has gone into making it. It’s a real enthusiast’s dream and sparks joy in really unexpected ways. Refreshingly different, it goes to new levels of immersivity and more than anything is really, really accessible to the non-escape room player market too!

Escape the Empire can be purchased for $19.99 – $26.99 USD on the STL Fantasy Maps website.