Unlock! Star Wars Adventures
Unlock! Star Wars Adventures
- Played December 2020
- 2-4 players
- $30 USD
- Great for families
- (612) 428-2977
- What People Say
(Click here to play the Star Wars Theme music as you slowly scroll through this review opening… try it, you’ll love it!)
UNLOCK! STAR WARS ADVENTURES
Episodes I, II, III…
Epidemic distress! A viral infection has taken
the third planet in the Milky Way system, Earth, hostage.
Over 7 billion people worldwide live daily with the fear of dying
from boredom. Board game creators across Earth scramble to meet
the global demand for in-home escape games and save the people from
their fate. Asmodee North America has risen among their manufacturing
competitors to provide a series of in-home escape games called Unlock!
A breakthrough is made with a successful movie crossover theme, but with
the virus continuing to trap everyone indoors, knowledge and access to
the cure remains hidden from the masses. In a last grasp to save the
planet, Asmodee enlists the help of a rogue organization known as
The Esc Room Addict Team…
Now why can’t all review intros be that fun?! In all seriousness though, reviewing a trilogy of games inside one box (especially one with a Star Wars theme) may seem like a blast, but there are difficulties. One question always on our minds is, ‘How can we best inform our audience about each of these games?’ One method would simply have us write three almost perfectly identical reviews, and just change three or four sentences where the games are different. But that seems like a lot of needless, extra reading we don’t want to put you through. We could also just list our team’s scores for each individual game, then explain those scores within the whole review, but again, it feels like this would be overly wordy and hard to read through. In the end here’s what we have been doing, and feel free to let us know if it helps you understand the games better: We write one review for the whole box, and within it we explain how the amalgamated scores were affected by each game. So if, for example, we really liked the puzzles overall but one game had noticeably weaker puzzles, then we’ll point out why and try to isolate those comments to the one game specifically, and how much of an impact to the overall score it had. Fair enough? Well then if that’s all settled, it’s time to hop into your x-wing (or tie fighter if you’ve joined the dark side), and let’s look at these games.
We start with the game component quality, and the first thing we noticed before even playing the game was that the app for Unlock! Star Wars, wasn’t the same as the previous Unlock! games. We assumed it had something to do with licensing rights, but just be mindful you’ll be adding another app to your device. Beyond that there isn’t much of a difference between each of the individual episodes within the box as you’ll receive pretty much the same components: A deck of Unlock! cards, the app, and a small instruction booklet for those who haven’t played an Unlock! series yet. The one difference worth noting comes in the final game episode “Secret Mission on Jedha” which includes a physical map you need to navigate. This little addition was a BIG addition in our opinion, and helped raise the component quality a little bit. The Unlock! team also changed their standard tutorial game which is used in their previous box sets, to a new Star Wars themed one. Kudos for this small change as it was a nice touch. Music and some sound effects are included within the app, but let’s talk about that in our discussion on immersion…
Speaking of immersion, we’re sure everyone wants to know, exactly how the game ‘felt’ as we went through it. Did it feel like a Star Wars adventure? Did it tie into the movies? Did it allow us to make decisions that seemed to fit within the Star Wars universe? Did the games connect to each other? We have to admit coming into this game we needed to keep our expectations in check… especially as it related to immersion. Most of us are varying levels of Star Wars fans, so above anything else we really wanted to open this box, forget we were reviewing it, forget we were in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, and just feel immersed in the Star Wars universe… and… it kind of did, but with some notable highs and lows. Let’s start with the stories. Although they were loosely connected to each other, and take place roughly within the same time frame, they weren’t really connected to an overall story arc within the game, nor were they connected to the Star Wars movies. This was a bit of a missed opportunity, but we can see why they decided to do this. In the first episode “Escape From Hoth” it’s almost a perfect recreation of The Empire Strikes Back. Again, this may be hit or miss for those who were either hoping to recreate a Star Wars movie they’re familiar with, or were hoping for a new story that didn’t mimic what they already know. The second episode changes location to a star destroyer in “The Unforeseen Delay”. This story somewhat connects to the events of the first game, but is separated enough to be its own game within the box, which once again has you recreating the events we saw in A New Hope. And finally, the trilogy wraps up with “Secret Mission On Jedha’’ which takes you to the desert planet as one of ‘the bad guys’. Yup, you read that correct… they made sure to include an episode for those who always wanted to be part of the Empire. Most of us on the ERA team would’ve ideally liked for these episodes to have been linked together, but we can understand why Asmodee decided to approach it this way. The good news is there was enough of a Star Wars ‘’feeling’’ in each of these games to make it fun and interesting which was impressive. Each of the episodes had a different style and pacing kind of like the movies themselves. “The Unforeseen Delay’’ played a lot quicker, and “Secret Mission On Jedha’’ was more cerebral as two examples of these slight differences (we’ll discuss this more when we look at puzzles)… Overall the trilogy did a good job in taking us to a time long ago, and a galaxy far, far away… with one blackhole sized error… the MUSIC! “Wait a minute! The ERA team always says in-home escape games are BETTER with music. What the heck?!” That’s true, we do believe that… except in this case. We didn’t even know what to say to each other after we excitedly opened this Star Wars themed game, with cool Star Wars artwork, fun Star Wars themed puzzles, and music from… The Planets by Holst?!! WHAT?!! Were it not for the other strong immersive areas of the game, this would’ve had a bigger impact on our overall immersive experience, because there’s nothing more synonymous with Star Wars than the characters, the stories, and the Star Wars MUSIC (by John Williams). We tried to keep reminding ourselves that aside from this huge let down the immersion was good, but admittedly a couple of our members (the more fanatical Star Wars fans amongst us) were borderline offended the Star Wars soundtrack wasn’t used. Most of us were disappointed and understand this is once again probably a licensing issue that couldn’t be resolved (or was too costly for Asmodee), but it might’ve been a good idea to waylay the fury of die-hard Star War fans by letting players know upfront they won’t be hearing that iconic symbol crash and double-forte opening chord by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Ohhhkay, ok, ok, let’s take a deep breath, channel our inner force, and look at the puzzles… Like we said before, the puzzles were similar between episodes for the most part, but each episode had its own pacing and ‘uniqueness’. Sure you could say for the most part it’s like all the other Unlock! games where you simply find a blue card, and match it to the most obvious red card. But in each episode of the Star Wars trilogy, you get some unique puzzles and more variety than you would in most of the earlier Unlock! trilogies. ‘’The Unforeseen Delay’’ (episode 2) was the fastest paced and we’d also say easiest, of the three games. Whereas ‘’Secret Mission On Jedha’’ is least like the others in style, and in function as it heavily uses the app, and a physical map for most of its puzzles. There was one particular puzzle that was a fan favourite of ours in ‘’The Unforeseen Delay’’ but we don’t want to give any spoilers, and you’ll know it when you come across it. ‘’Escape From Hoth’’ was the most similar to the typical Unlock! style with a large degree of red-card, blue-card matching. Apart from the occasional ‘’Oh that’s a nice touch!’’ moments, we didn’t really have anything bad to say about the puzzles, but nothing overly doting either. They were simple enough to be played by all ages and experience levels (we’d say ideally for a group of 2-3 players, 10+ years, with at least one adult to help guide the experience). In addition to the unique puzzles of the second and third episodes, we were happy to see there was in fact one team building puzzle in this game (found in episode two)! Now why can’t more in-home escape games do this we ask? Yes, this takes away the ability to play as a single player, but the increased level of fun from team building puzzles is always worth the payoff in our opinion. Anyway, the puzzles fit in nicely with the theme, they give you a good connection to the Star Wars universe, and there’s nothing negative that can be said about them apart from it being perhaps a bit on the easy side for experienced Unlock! players and puzzle solvers.
So what’s the final verdict? Did Unlock! Star Wars earn the right to be part of the Jedi council, or did it turn to the dark side by being too eager, ambitious, and aggressive for its own good? This trilogy definitely balanced the force. With easier puzzles, no Star Wars music, discontinuous stories, and not much of a ‘wow factor’, some may feel this game didn’t live up to their expectations. At the same time, we’d argue the unique style and pacing of each game, the consistent and engaging Star Wars theme used throughout, the introduction of new puzzles and app interaction, and a few ‘’this is a nice touch!’’ moments made this game more fun to play than not! Could more movie franchise trilogies be on their way (with music)? We hope so! The Unlock! team has always managed to slightly raise the quality and experience level with each new trilogy that comes out, and Star Wars falls into that same pattern. Was it our favourite trilogy? No, but it was unique enough, fun enough, and engaging enough for us to make sure all our ERA members play through it. The best part is we know the Unlock! team is going to do even bigger things with Asmodee moving forward. Once again, the universe has been saved from its boredom…
We want to hear your thoughts on this game! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!