Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of an unnamed Star Fleet officer, who rises in the ranks during the course of three different adventures, all set during the Star Trek: The Next Generation timeline. A “Puzzles and Pathways Adventure,” Star Trek: Cryptic is part of the same line of games as this year’s Indiana Jones: Cryptic, as reviewed by Elizabeth MacAndrew for our sister site GeekMom.
What Is Star Trek: Cryptic?
Star Trek: Cryptic is an escape room-style game for 1 or more players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 60-90 minutes per adventure to play. It’s currently available on Amazon at an MSRP of $34.99.
Star Trek: Cryptic was designed and published by Funko Games, with illustrations by Henning Ludvigsen.
Star Trek: Cryptic Components
Note: Due to possible spoilers for puzzles, I will only show the base components here, and not anything that’s found in each of the three envelopes.
Here’s what comes in the box:
- Clear screen
- (4) isolinear chips
- (4) 10-Merit tokens
- (16) 1-Merit tokens
- 3 Mission envelopes
With the game set in The Next Generation, or TNG, era of Star Trek, all of the graphic design feels like it leapt off the screen. The envelopes and cardboard Merit tokens have a metal sheen to them which is very pleasing.
The cardboard tricorder looks identical to the TNG tricorders, though in place of a screen there’s a blank space. The cardboard is multi-layered, and you’ll be able to slot in components for use in solving some of the puzzles.
While the isolinear chips aren’t translucent plastic like they used on the show, their design still manages to go above and beyond what might be expected in a board game component. The circuitry of the chip is a raised print on the blue, giving a nice texture and dimensionality when handling the pieces. Needless to say, these are also used when solving certain puzzles.
While I won’t be revealing the contents of the envelopes, rest assured that everything that you’ll find inside is of a consistently nice quality.
How to Play Star Trek: Cryptic
As this is an escape room-style game, I will do my best to avoid spoilers.
The goal of the game is to complete missions by solving puzzles and completing pathways. You will earn Merit tokens, based on how well you solve each puzzle.
Open the logbook and turn to the mission that you will be playing. Open the mission envelope, and then follow any additional instructions in the logbook. There’s really not much to do to get started playing!
Each mission is basically like a Star Trek episode. However, to progress through the mission, you will either solve puzzles, or complete pathways.
Before you work on a solution for a particular puzzle of pathway, you will first set aside a number of Merit tokens as shown in the logbook to form a Merit pool. These will go towards your total Merit score at the end of the game, but you may lose merits depending on how well you did in finding the solution, or by getting hints in solving a puzzle.
The logbook will also tell you what particular components you will need to solve the puzzle or pathway.
Much like with an escape room, you will encounter puzzles of all shapes and sizes while playing through the 3 missions included in Star Trek: Cryptic. Not only do the envelopes contain puzzles, but you may find yourself using parts of the game box itself. I found the variety of puzzles to be quite good, and of varying difficulty.
The pathways require you to take the clear screen and dry-erase marker, and a particular pathway card of the same size as the screen. After putting the screen on top of the pathway card and marking a start point, you then move the screen several inches from the card and must freehand draw a route.
Some of the pathways may require you to interact with areas shown on the pathway card by marking an “X” on the screen where the interaction takes place.
Once you have completed your path, you flip the pathway card over, place the screen on top, and check your path to see how well you did.
In the case of the pathway above, we sadly did not beam up some of the hair of the Vulcan laying on the floor. That unexpected teleporter haircut caused us to lose a couple of Merit tokens for the Vulcan rescue.
A mission ends when you have completed all the puzzles and pathways, and read the final entry for the mission. You count all the Merit tokens that you’ve earned during the mission, and then refer to a table which gives you a rank based on the number of tokens earned.
Why You Should Play Star Trek: Cryptic
If you’re a fan of escape room-style games and Star Trek, then you’re going to want to play Star Trek: Cryptic. As I’d mentioned earlier, the puzzles have a nice variety to them, which is essential to this type of game. There were definitely a few puzzles that gave us a real run for our money, to the point where we actually had to go back to the logbook to get a hint. And while you can play the game solo, I found it’s much more enjoyable to play with 2-3 people, especially as that way you’ll get some help with the puzzles.
Everything in the components, artwork, and graphic design of the game just feels like Star Trek. But even more importantly, so does the writing. Each mission is narrated by an unseen and unnamed member of Starfleet, and the story is revealed through a succession of their personal logs. Whoever wrote the log entries definitely knows and loves Star Trek, as each mission feels like its own mini-episode of a TNG episode. There are also lots of tiny details peppered throughout which just scream Trek knowledge. Sometimes, the writing was so enjoyable that I’d want to hurry up and get through a puzzle just so I could find out what happened next!
The low MSRP of Star Trek: Cryptic makes it a steal for the content and quality of the components. While there’s not going to be much replay for you after you’ve completed the missions, the game is fully resettable. That means you can always pack everything from a mission back into its envelope, and pass on the game to a friend, thereby extending its value.
My friend Ray and I are both big Star Trek fans, so we were thoroughly delighted by Star Trek: Cryptic. That being said, if you’re not a Star Trek fan, you may instead want to consider something like Indiana Jones: Cryptic. But genre aside, the puzzles and pathways of Star Trek: Cryptic are very satisfying to solve, so you may just end up picking up both!
For more information on Star Trek: Cryptic, head over to the Funko Games website.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.