YOU are a new member of a budding rebellion, and you have been given a mission.
Under orders from Cassian Andor and with the guidance of renegade Imperial droid K-2SO, you and three of your friends are tasked to infiltrate an Imperial shuttle and investigate the contents of a particular container.
Disguised as stormtroopers, you and your friends board a transport ship and follow the ladened Imperial shuttle to the lava planet, Mustafar.
This is not the plot from the latest Star Wars video game or movie. This is the experience that awaits you when you step into The Void, the newest attraction at Resorts World Genting.
The Void, which opens to the public today, is a hyper-realistic experience that combines virtual reality (VR), force feedback, motion tracking, and physical interaction.
The Void can be found in 10 locations around the world, mostly North America. The one in Resorts World Genting is the first in Asia Pacific.
Before suiting up to enter The Void, guests must first sign a lengthy waiver form, and leave their bags as well as their electronic devices in the lockers provided, to avoid the devices interfering with the equipment and to heighten the immersion experience.
Nothing is worse than receiving a text while infiltrating a military base!
Guests – referred to as ‘Rebels’ as part of the story – are led into a room by a member of the staff, where they receive their mission from Cassian Andor himself.
The rebels are then taken to a station where they are instructed by the staff members to suit up with a vest (large- or medium-sized).
The vest houses the ‘brain’ needed to make the virtual reality experience work, and also has feedback pads that buzz and vibrate if hit by errant laser fire.
The vest is fastened with a buckle from the bottom to the top. There are also red adjustment loops near the armpits. These have to be pulled down and back. There are also similar loops around the waist which need to be pulled outwards and across.
Now snug in their vests, the rebels are instructed to put on their VR helmets, with the visor up. The helmet comes with adjustment knobs at the top and rear, a volume adjuster on the left side, and a chin strap.
Rebels are reminded to place the cable connecting their vest to their VR helmet on the outside of their arm, and not under the armpit.
The magic begins when you and your friends, now ‘armed and ready’, step into the holding room and are instructed to pull your visor down.
Almost instantaneously, you are transformed into stormtroopers. You are told to look at your bare hands, and you see that they are now clad in stormtrooper armour.
If that is not impressive enough, a door opens leading you to your transport, where K-2SO and a pilot await.
As your transport docks for its security check, you and your fellow rebels step out of your ship onto a hovering platform.
The world suddenly opens up, and you feel like you are really on Mustafar, with the heat of the lava beneath your feet and the wind in your face as the platform takes you to its destination.
Even in my wildest speculations, I have not expected The Void to be that good. Star Wars: Secret of the Empire has exceeded all my expectations.
It is an experience like no other for anyone who steps in it. And for a Star Wars fan, this is a dream come true.
In the heat of the moment (no pun intended), you can believe that the virtual world around you is real. You can grab guns, press buttons, pull levers, and even touch some droids.
I find myself refusing to step into what looks like a hole in the floor for fear of falling, or even to step over molten metal doors for fear of melting my shoes.
It is an immersive experience that I highly recommend. I would love to go on the same adventure again.
I also look forward to other themed experiences by The Void that are available in other markets, such as Ralph Breaks VR, Ghostbusters, and Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment.
However, the approximately 15-minute Star Wars: Secret of the Empire experience comes at a cost of RM130 per person, and RM520 for a complete squad of four. That is a rather high price barrier for entry.
While The Void is a unique and immersive experience that is out of this world, that price may be too high for most casual visitors.