The Escape Game presents...
"TEG UNLOCKED [DIGITAL], THE HEIST"
"VOLUME 1: CHASING HAHN"
✧ Part of a play-at home series. Play whenever, wherever, in your underpants. ✧
A FAMILIAR FRIEND
Though I have never physically been to one of The Escape Game's many locations, mainly due to their not having branched out to Southern California just yet, I am not at all a stranger to this company's reputation.
The company's best tool to reach faraway patrons like me, its website, is beautifully constructed and easy to navigate. I've watched their games' trailers numerous times, each time fueling my desire to play even more.
MORE THAN JUST ESCAPE ROOMS
What really got me hooked to this brand is The Escape Game's clever mindset to expand beyond their physical escape room offerings. Just because you don't live in Atlanta, Dallas, or Las Vegas, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll miss out on the fun.
For a limited time in 2019, TEG published online puzzle adventures that anyone can play, free of charge, all within a web browser. Dubbed "Monthly Mystery", these variously themed games tested the wits of kids and adults alike.
These self-contained online experience eventually evolved into "TEG Unlocked", an actual game merchandise customers could obtain physically in real life. Puzzles are printed, manufactured, and packaged into a tangible parcel, then shipped out for convenient in-home fun.
THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENED
Due to recent events related to COVID-19, virtually all escape room companies in the US were forced to temporarily shut their doors under stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations.
With much resilience, The Escape Game continued its operations with its auxiliary alternatives: play a live escape game via conference app Zoom, enjoy an actual board game named "Escape From Iron Gate", or...
TRY OUT THE DIGITAL VERSION OF "TEG UNLOCKED"!
UNLOCKED: ALL DIGITAL, ALL AWESOME
TEG Unlocked [Digital] is basically paperless, virtual versions of their parcel counterparts, but these are arguably better--online transaction, no-wait delivery, and instant gratification. At $10 for each volume, pricing is fair.
Unlock "The Heist". Choose from Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
A QUEST TO CAPTURE HAHN
The currently available selection is divided into 2 separate volumes, with each providing anywhere from 45 minutes to a handful of hours of puzzle solving fun, depending on your expertise level.
"The Heist, Volume 1: Chasing Hahn." - Work as a secret agent to thwart the infamous art curator and suspected art thief, Vincent Hahn. You’ll need to uncover his true identity, connect him to a crime, and work with the International Police to stop Hahn before another masterpiece goes missing.
"The Heist, Volume 2: The Silk Road." - Vincent Hahn just barely escaped, but Intel has noticed some suspicious activity in Hong Kong. According to reports, Hahn is dealing with artifacts related to the Silk Road. Your mission is to go there, find Hahn, and capture him before he can get away.
We're gonna focus on Volume 1 today, folks. (Volume 2, no fret, you'll get your own post soon.)
STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS PACKAGE
Even with just the digital contents available, there's no denying just how beautiful the original parcel of materials would've looked. Part of me wishes to marvel at just how dazzling that package would appear in real life.
A glimpse of the virtual files and items ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
Every piece of evidence--a stack of photos or postcards, a realistic looking passport complete with customs stamps, or an unassuming Post-It note--is an excellent display of TEG's strongest suit, the incredible visuals.
(My personal favorite is a certain gazette's publication!)
The talented people in charge of art direction at TEG, whether it be for the actual escape rooms, the company website, or associated merchandise like "Unlocked", you guys never cease to wow me.
Complementing the aforementioned files is, of course, the game interface, or your secret agent dashboard. Clean and slick in design, it's intuitive and easy to navigate, a decent work space for the next hour(s) to come.
AN INTERNATIONAL ART MASTER THIEF
Though these two volumes are advertised as a continuation of TEG's resident escape game of the same title ("The Heist") in their physical locations, one need not to be familiar to join the adventure.
Dive right in, the plot line is not at all complicated. This is a classic game of cat and mouse chase with little explanation needed. Expert escape artists may even find the art museum theft theme a common encounter.
What I appreciated about "Unlocked" is that the creative forces behind the tale now have a chance to fully flesh out this universe--Hahn's character, his background, his motives, and his ongoing run-in with the law--now I am much more invested to find out what's next.
After all, time and time again, I've found that a good storytelling best engages its audience, and perhaps one day this could turn into a saga that inspires a sequel escape room option to be built in their stores!
I guess agents use Macs in this game ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
REMINISCENCE OF "MONTHLY MYSTERY"
The game format for "The Heist" is deeply rooted in the foundation of "Monthly Mystery" mentioned above, sharing much of the base DNA. If you've played any of the mysteries before, you'll pick this up with ease.
The game developers did, however, improve and streamline the experience with an even more focused approach. The dashboard interface zooms in your focus with one step at a time, forcing participants to only progress in a mostly linear fashion.
Such high level of systematic organization brought on a minor ambivalence: my OCD personality was highly satisfied, and in fact, attracted to, the appeal of routine and structure. Conversely, extreme hand-holding may limit a freer approach to detective sleuthing should one prefer.
At one point, submitting several pieces of evidence as proof for Hahn's crime felt strangely familiar, evoking and emulating a similar vibe of placing several key items in a meta puzzle to unlock a door during an actual, physical escape game adventure.
Agent's dashboard ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
Not only did this give me a quick jolt of escape junkie "fix" for being away from escape rooms for so long, it reminded me just how much I long to once again be able to experience the thrill of a hobby so dear to my heart.
Finally, it's worthy to note that puzzles are also more narrative focused, more tailored to the overarching theme, and consequently none felt "random", which some of the past Monthly Mysteries had suffered from.
PETTY THEFT? OR GRAND LARCENY?
...That's my lame metaphor attempt to illustrate that "Unlocked" could prove to be both a little (petty) or a lot (grand) challenging, depending on your past escape room or puzzle solving experience. Heh.
This series is officially listed as suitable for ages 12 and up. From start to finish, none of the riddles were excessively challenging. Playing solo was no problem for me, though the game may support up to 4 (novices).
In addition, when stuck, players always have the choice to consult the built-in game guide, or even the answers if one should give up (though I insist you not to!). I personally rate this game easy to medium, at most.
Funnily enough, there're a couple of moments when I completely missed the intended logic behind certain puzzles, but I still managed to "brute force" my way through with little resistance. Aw well.
TIPS, TRICKS, AND THOUGHTS
If you are like me, also *obsessed* with systematic organization, go ahead and download all your pertinent files available before even lifting one single brain muscle. Perusing all evidence as a whole collectively prior to start was my key to a speedy success.
The entire Volume 1 also conforms to common escape room convention of "one and done", so that means once you have utilized a piece of clue, and successfully moved on to the next step, toss it aside!
There was a bit of a hiccup with the dashboard interface, though it never impacted game play to a significant degree. For example, Vincent's Hahn's true identity (a solution) was revealed right from the get-go, ever so slightly creating some confusion at game initiation.
I did it. I am a proven valuable asset. ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
It was never a question in my mind that the mission will be successfully completed--I am not only referring to my successful warrant issuance for Hahn, but also The Escape Game's intention to entertain.
"Chasing Hahn" was not birthed under the pressure of quarantine, but instead has always been a slickly produced and smartly executed puzzle product. This was such a nifty little bundle of joy made of such high quality, I recommend everyone to give it a tackle, home isolation status or otherwise!
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We at "Escape Mattster" appreciate this company's hospitality and the opportunity to publish an honest review. Though game access was complimentary, we aim to provide *only* genuine & unbiased opinions. All official media are provided by or credited to respective contents owners, and are used with proper permission for the purpose of this post.