“Play, You Must…” Unlock! Star Wars Escape Game (USWEG). Unlock! Star Wars is the first-time publishers SPACE Cowboys have incorporated their popular brand, Unlock! “at-home escape room” games, with a major film franchise. What a place to start as well, by integrating with one of the biggest film franchises ever to hit the big screen in Star Wars!
SPACE Cowboys will have pleased Star Wars fans by bringing both Star Wars and the ever-growing trend of at-home escape rooms together! As with some of their previous offerings, such as Unlock! Escape Adventures, players are treated to not just one game, but three, hence the slightly higher price of Unlock! Star Wars compared to some single play Unlock! Escape games. Do not be put off by this!
Unlock! Star Wars offers 1 – 6 players the chance to take on the role of Rebels, Smugglers, and Imperial Agents in “Escape from Hoth”, “An Unforeseen Delay” and “Secret Mission on Jedha”. Star Wars fans will appreciate close links with “Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” in “Escape from Hoth” and “Rogue One – A Star Wars Story” in “Secret Mission on Jedha”.
Unlock! The Universe
Unlock! Star Wars can be enjoyed by players aged 10+ who are both new and experienced in Unlock! Escape games. Each of the three games is assigned its own difficulty (on a 1 – 3 scale). “Escape to Hoth” and “An Unforeseen Delay” are rated 1 out of 3, while “Secret Mission on Jedha is rated 2 out of 3. The jump in difficulty between the first two games and the final game is noticeable. Therefore, it is advisable to attempt the games in order.
For those players new to the franchise, on top of the three full games, there is a mini tutorial included in the box also, which can be played prior to game one. This acts as a great opportunity for players to learn the concepts used throughout Unlock! Escape games and prepare themselves for the full game experience. It also includes a detailed manual, which new players should read before gameplay commences.
The components of the game are split into four decks of cards, (one for each game, including the tutorial), an instruction booklet, solution booklet and a map of Jedha, which you should not read until instructed to! The box can therefore feel rather large for a game made up of these simple components.
Players are now almost ready to go. One last item is required, however: the free Unlock! Star Wars App, downloadable from either the Apple or Google Play store. This is an attribute of the game which may limit its appeal to some players.
“And Now It’s Calling To You…”
Players must aim to complete each of the three games within sixty minutes, with incorrect actions earning you time-penalties. At the start of each game, players are presented with a short narrative to set the scene and explain the aim of their game. They are then asked to select three “Advantage Cards” by revealing only their titles, such as “Droid Specialist”, from a deck of six. Each “Advantage Card” then gives players an extra helping hand at different points in the game’s narrative.
“Advantage Cards” chosen, game card deck set up, smartphone app ready to go, the game begins. Players work through each game by revealing cards as they are told and are presented with Objects, Machines, Codes, Places, Penalties or Modifiers (used to modify another card). Players must deduce how to use these cards together, to further the game's narrative, with the goal to achieve their game’s aim.
Objects can often be combined with each other, whereas machines and codes require players to interact with the smartphone app, in order to solve either the code or the machine. Machines are possibly the most exciting feature of these games, as they all take the form of mini interactive puzzles. You should avoid penalties at all costs, as these quickly decrease the time players have to achieve their game’s aim.
The link to the Star Wars films starts strong in Escape from Hoth, with the narrative almost matching that of the scene in the film “Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”. Links to the films get weaker in the second game, “An Unforeseen Delay”, but do return stronger in the final game, “Secret Mission on Jedha”, which links to “Rogue One – A Star Wars Story”.
A nice feature of these games is that, although the target to complete each one is sixty minutes, if players take longer than this, then the game continues and without the need to restart the game from the beginning. Players who exceed the sixty-minute mark will receive a lower overall grading at the end of the game.
The first two games feel relatively straightforward, which can leave players with a false sense of security when approaching the third and final game. “Secret Mission on Jedha” is much more complex than the first two games and therefore there is no room for complacency! That being said, it would have been really nice to have one game of each difficulty rating included in the box.
The lack of replayability lets Unlock! Star Wars down. However, replayability is not something which escape room games can generally offer, due to the nature of their design. Unlock! Star Wars is a great start at merging a successful game franchise with a hugely successful film franchise. The force is strong with this one!
This blog was originally published on November 11th, 2020. Updated on May 4th, 2022 to improve the information available.