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Video Game / Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire

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Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire was a virtual reality (marketed as a "hyper-reality") experience set in the Star Wars universe, created by The Void in conjunction with ILMxLAB, with locations at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida and Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It was also available in several other The Void attraction parks worldwide. The Void lost its license from Disney in 2020 due to financial problems exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, which led to The Void defaulting on a loan that was secured by their intellectual property.

The experience starts with a pre-recorded video sequence by Captain Cassian Andor, recruiting the players to an important mission on behalf of the Rebel Alliance. Cassian informs the players that they will be going under cover as Stormtroopers to infiltrate a base on Mustafar, to recover the contents of a package recently obtained by The Empire that could be of vital importance to the Rebellion.

After the briefing, players are fitted with the VR equipment, including a haptic vest and helmet with visor. The players are led by the game guide into a nondescript room in which they put the visor down. At that moment, the VR begins, with the players appearing to each other as Storm Troopers, and the nondescript room transforming into the interior of a shuttle. As the mission begins, players leave the shuttle and walk onto the base. Players are really walking, unhindered, through actual rooms in the physical world, while the VR equipment gives them a full 360° immersion into the world of the game. At various points in the game, players interact with real-world items and equipment, which appear to the players with a VR overlay.

Tropes in this game include:

  • Action-Based Mission: while the mission as described is one of reconnaissance, as soon as the player finds blaster weapons, it becomes a shoot 'em up game.
  • Arbitrary Equipment Restriction: after the Boss Battle ends and Vader starts interacting with another NPC, players' blasters suddenly stop working, with seemingly no explanation given. This actually isn't the case, see Wrecked Weapon below.
  • Boss Battle: After discovering the relic the players were tasked with finding, Darth Vader shows up to No-Sell the players' attacks.
  • Digital Avatar: Within the virtual reality, all players appear to each other as Storm Troopers. Players can also see their own hands and forearms in Storm Trooper armor.
  • Destroy the Security Camera: Just like in A New Hope, while battling stormtroopers in the Mustafar facility, the player can blow up surveillance cameras capturing the action. The player can net higher points in the endgame for extra cameras destroyed.
  • Deus Exit Machina: During the pre-game briefing, Captain Andor tells the players that he was planning on going on this mission, but "the Empire had other plans", necessitating the players themselves to take over the mission for him.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: after the climax, players' blaster stop working even though there is an enemy in plain view, while the enemy interacts with another NPC. Players can still move around and see each other's Digital Avatars.
  • First-Person Ghost: because the "camera" into the virtual world is in fact the player's own eyes, the player can never see their own body other than their arms.
  • First-Person Shooter: once the players find some blasters to grab, anyway.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Shooting your teammates has no discernible effect.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Because the players are wearing haptic vests, when they get hit by an enemy blaster, they actually feel a real-world sensation on their chest or mid-section. While not actually damaging, the effect is certainly not pleasant.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: Played With. Just before the NPC Captain hands out weapons to each player, they receive a communication from the enemy base that they are prohibited from taking weapons with them off the shuttle, hence players enter the base unarmed and must find weapons elsewhere.
  • Interquel: The game is set between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One.
  • King Mook: After shooting down multiple Mustafarian lava bugs (which are already huge on their own) the players will need to battle the hive queen, a bug larger than spaceships which can repeatedly spit lava balls at the players.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: The trailer for the game features the voice of Mon Mothma recruiting players into the Rebellion. Mon Mothma does not appear anywhere in the actual game, not even by voice.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Part of the action takes place outside of Mustafar, where the players trade bullets against stormtroopers on floating platforms over pools of lava. More often than not, stormtroopers killed will end up falling off their transports into the lava.
  • MacGuffin: The impetus of the mission is to discover what the Empire has transported to Mustafar. Players are told only that it may be of great significance to the Rebellion. At the climax, the package is opened to reveal a heretofore unseen Jedi artifact of unknown abilities or significance.
  • NPC: The players are guided by K-2SO from Rogue One, as well as by an unnamed captain of the shuttle on which they were transported.
  • Saved by Canon: It should be obvious to the players that they will not be able to kill Darth Vader, as that would create a Canon Discontinuity for all following works.
  • Sarcasm Mode: True to his Rogue One characterization, nearly every word K-2SO speaks is sarcastic, but never more so than when the players don't get the solution to a puzzle correct.
    K-2SO: "Is there someone else there who could help you?"
  • "Simon Says" Mini-Game: To open one of the doors, a player must push a series of buttons in increasingly complicated sequences. In the storyline, K-2SO is in an adjacent room with his own panel of buttons, and is making the players' buttons flash in the correct sequence so they know which ones to push.
  • Slow Laser: Blaster bolts travel slow enough that you can dodge them.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Each enemy stormtrooper is taken out with a couple shots by any player's blaster, while the creatures living in the lava require multiple shots by all the players to finally take down.
  • Sequel Hook: At the climax of the game, the players find a heretofore unknown "Jedi Relic", which the leader claims may be very important to the Rebellion. The game ends before the players find out what the relic's importance or uses could be.
  • Tech-Demo Game: The technology required to create this "hyper-reality" experience is a giant leap forward, hence this 15-minute game is largely a demonstration of what the tech can accomplish.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Before the game starts, the player can leave behind their contact details for rating the game; after completion, they'll be awarded a digital poster (via email) of their characters, labelled, "REBEL SCOUNDREL WANTED BY THE EMPIRE", alongside their scores, kill-tallies, their various "crimes" (including impersonating a stormtrooper, theft of Imperial property, destruction of surveillance cameras and illegal hunting of Mustafarian wildlife) and screenshots of them in action.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Vader uses the Force to damage the player's blasters during the endgame. This detail can easily be missed in the chaos of the moment, making it seem like a case of Arbitrary Equipment Restriction. Keen-eyed players will notice that the blaster muzzles are crooked after that point.