The Escape Game presents...
"TEG UNLOCKED [DIGITAL], THE HEIST"
"VOLUME 2: THE SILK ROAD"
✧ Part of a play-at home series. Play whenever, wherever, in your underpants. ✧
Last we left of it, our thorough investigation led us to a successful warrant issuance for infamous art curator (or more accurately, robber) Vincent Hahn. Your hard work gave the Interpol enough evidence to charge the guy... but... WHERE is the guy?
Not so sure what's going on? Not a problem; you might not have played the "TEG: Unlocked" at-home adventure series, specifically "The Heist, Volume 1: Catching Hahn". Check out the official trailer for the Vol. 1 below:
The Heist ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
In fact, why don't we catch you up to speed with my previous review? Go ahead, click here. (Agree with my review? You can purchase Volume 1 to experience for yourself, directly from The Escape Game at their e-store, located right here.)
A NEW MISSION IN A FOREIGN LAND
Looks like our master thief stayed one step ahead and fled--and he fled really, really far:
"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."
Well well, good thing your agent dashboard is equipped with the latest technology, enabling you to lend a helping hand across the globe remotely. Let's roll, Volume 2: The Silk Road.
Incoming. Looks like you're needed once again. ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
YOU'RE A PRO BY NOW
Although there was a bit of a learning curve, albeit a low one, when players are first introduced to the game interface, everything remains preserved, more or less the same, from Volume 1 to Volume 2.
If you've played Vol. 1 before, which you should have, you're good to go.
BUT THERE'S MARKED DIFFERENCE
Nevertheless, because Vol. 2 is, if I'm not mistaken, entirely designed for a digital release, (whereas Vol. 1 was a convert or "port" for online play), the developers now get to selectively reveal evidence files as they see fit.
Instead of bombarding everything you'll need right from the get go, you're given bits and pieces of information in a narrative driven fashion, subsequently creating several effects:
1) This intensifies immersion and realism. In Vol. 1, you're basically digging up dirt on the guy, so having all info given point blank is still logical, assuming someone else already did the research for ya. However, in Vol. 2, we are in active pursuit, and each step of the way gives you a clue leading to the next. It makes you feel like a real detective, an authentic Intel agent.
Having all access from other side of Earth is handy ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
2) Incidentally, this simulates the joy of solution input and next-step reveal in a real-life escape room. Now, yes, this at-home adventure is a very different breed from your familiar brick and mortar counterpart. Yet, given the flow and this very style of Vol. 2, I've enjoyed part 2 more, among other reasons.
3) Finally, imitation of a real-time cat and mouse chase certain implies a linear game play. While some people appreciate the guided focus on each puzzle in their intended order, this may again, come off as rigid or too much hand-holding for experts. (It also means it's very novice friendly!)
Besides the same blue and cyan agent dash board, another similarity is the constantly impressive art direction TEG has consistently treated its customers. Every single piece of evidence file is gorgeous and realistic looking.
Sure, sure, the game at its core can still achieve the same puzzle solving fulfillment even with less impressive graphics, but when done right, like this, it elevates the experience so much more. (If any aspiring designers out there are reading this, do not skim on the visuals!)
One of my favorites in early stage was a simple receipt! The authenticity lends it elegance.
Since "Volume 2: The Silk Road" is no longer restricted to largely printed and physical items as clues, TEG provided more variety in terms of items or communications that appear during the game.
In particular, though your field agent will still mainly communicate to you via (pre-recorded) video clips, now they are presented in a much more believable and realistic fashion. (Remember, he's in Hong Kong, and you're in the USA still!) Little details littered throughout transmission of said videos were cute and appreciated.
Without outright spoiling much, there were two instances of (minor spoilers!) in-game ("fake") websites for vital investigation. They're outstandingly constructed with the perfect blend of realism, humor, and internet culture; it made them so dang deliciously enjoyable and memorable. I almost liked them more than the actual puzzles!
AHHH, YES, THEM PUZZLES
Speaking of which, just like its predecessor, Vol. 2 is still designed for all ages, recommended for 12 and up, so don't expect any puzzle to be mindbogglingly challenging or difficult. It's definitely more about the ride than the satisfaction of knowing you're the smartest of the bunch.
Reminds me of Fa Mulan ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
Some puzzles are instant no brainers, others may make you stumble temporarily; but none is excessively complicated. I only got stumped once due to carelessness, which remedied itself in a brief moment. Rating wise, this leans toward easy, even more so than Vol. 1.
In fact, interestingly, since the game sets in Hong Kong, China, those with a background of the Chinese language may inadvertently gain an edge! No worry, even if you are not bilingual, you CAN solve everything. However, if you ARE at all literate in this second language, it almost feel like cheating!
But hey, at least I can confirm to you The Escape Game's dedication of subject accuracy. Much respect for the due diligence.
A MEMORY THROWBACK
I must admit, my being partial to part 2 absolutely has to do with its geographical setting. Hong Kong holds a dear place in my heart, and just witnessing a game incorporating this location, along with some real Chinese history, brings a smile to my face.
Some games just gets you better, you know?
Hahn journeyed far and wide to evade arrest ▪ The Escape Game: Unlocked
The distinct flavor of international theming made this chapter more interesting, despite its overall offering what seemed like a smaller roster of total puzzles, and therefore a shorter play duration. For whatever reason, Vol. 2 felt short, or maybe simply, I craved for more.
All things considered, I think TEG: Unlocked [Digital] is a series best for 1-2 players in most cases. If you have family that is not familiar to puzzles, board games, and the likes, host a party up to 4.
Finally, I thank The Escape Game for reaching out for this review opportunity. Prior to publication, I knew of their Monthly Mystery games, but didn't know they have since evolved and matured into even better products. I am grateful for the trials, and am happy to recommend fellow puzzle lovers to help capture Hahn.
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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.