To Infinity, and Beyond!
You and your crew are on a mission to Mars! Approaching the red planet in search of a new Earth, you wake from your cryosleep pod, gasping for air…
As the Alarm echoes through the ship, your ears adjust to the message… It’s one no astronaut wants to hear: “WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! CRITICAL FAILURE!
A life-threatening system failure means you must now land the ship manually. Check your coordinates. Steady the thrusters. Solve the problem… Can you and your crew save the mission? The fate of humanity is in your hands!
A little less than a year ago, we learned of a new type of escape in a box – one that would allow you to turn any room in your home into an escape room. These games were developed by Trapped, and I have to say, we were impressed by the games in the first series: The Bank Job, The Art Heist, and Carnival. So of course we were excited to learn about the release of Season Two, comprised of Flight 927, Mission to Mars, and The Zoo, and were pleased to find that (so far) we are equally impressed with the company’s new games.
After surviving the crash of Flight 972, on a sunny afternoon, we decided a Mission to Mars was in order, if only to take a break from the sun and escape the heat of the English summer and instead journey into the chill of outer space, if only for an hour (or slightly less in our case.)
Trapped aren’t lying when they say you can turn any room in your home into an escape room, and no matter which game you choose the box contains everything you need to do so. They’re easy to set up, and unlike some other games that promise to do the same, it’s even still possible for the person that sets them up to play the game. Which is rather fortunate, as it always seems to fall to me to set the games up, and I would hate to miss out. Plus, as a bonus, there’s no internet required, so the game can be played anywhere – including a tent on a camping holiday if one were so inclined.
(Pro tip: While the person that sets up the game can, and should, absolutely take part, if you’ve decided that they are instead going to act as a GM, I highly recommend that this person ignores the envelope that tells you not to open it, and instead sets this portion of the game up in another room for extra adventure in your Mission to Mars. But do this if, and ONLY if, they have no intention of playing. (Say for instance, if this was to be played at a children’s birthday party.))
The puzzles in Mission to Mars are all loosely thematic, with mission logs, rover navigation, supply management, star charts, and more, plus the game is completely non-linear. It’s up to you whether you work together in tandem for each puzzle, or work through them systematically – just like in a real escape game. The game isn’t massively narrative-driven, and improbability of needing to be put into cryosleep for a mission to Mars aside, after all, the trip to the fourth planet from the Sun only takes about seven months, the story is a bit of fun; plus I love a bit of space travel.
Each of the Trapped games has utilised something to differentiate them from one another, from it the more physical aspect at the end of The Bank Job to the carnival games in Carnival. One thing that differentiates Mission to Mars from the other Trapped games that we have played thus far is the inclusion of a bit of papercraft in the puzzles – necessitating a pair of scissors. This gives the game something tangible to play around with. Plus, the finale makes it just a little bit different (likely a love/hate ending).
One of the most difficult aspects of the Trapped games, Mission to Mars included, is the non-linear play structure. Since nothing is really too hidden (unless your “GM” is particularly mean) so everything is on display at once, and the first challenge is figuring out what goes with what.
But once you’ve accomplished that task, Mission to Mars has a number of fair, and pleasing puzzles that are very reminiscent of the styles traditionally found in escape rooms: Logic, pattern recognition, lateral thinking, and a fair amount of relatively simple maths. Don’t get too upset about the maths though – you’re welcome to use a calculator, and they’re mostly there as a method of checking your solution to the puzzle is correct. In a deviation from the games in Series One, there was even a puzzle that required physical components that were fun to play around with.
While most of the puzzles were very much like an escape game, there was one section that, would have me absolutely raging if I were to find it in an actual escape room due to the requirement of some outside knowledge. But, as this outside knowledge should be pretty standard for most adults and educational for children, I’ll let it slide since the task itself was quite fun (though we had to modify it slightly with only two players).
Mission to Mars is classed as “Medium Difficulty,” so between that and having just played Flight 927 the day prior to get us into the mindset of how Trapped think, so we didn’t need to take any clues. But even so, I love the clue system in the Trapped games. I thought it was brilliant when we played The Bank Job, and even five games later, I still love it. It actually manages to make taking a clue feel almost fun.
Each piece of information you find in Mission to Mars tells you exactly where to turn if you feel you need help, and although this help follows the standard progression of three clues followed by the solution, they are presented in a lovely little booklet that at first appears as though it is written in complete gibberish. But you are provided with a handy little decoder to make sense of the word jumble, and ensure that you only get just enough information to get you back on track.
In my opinion, there aren’t enough space games. Mission to Mars manages to be fun, but also has the potential to be educational. It is on the easier side, making it ideal for a family game night.
- Note-taking implements may be useful
- Calculator (Optional)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 32 minutes
Website: Available from a number of escape rooms or on Amazon (probably)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience and it was gifted by Golden Bear, but this has not influenced our review