After six months of puzzles, paranormal happenings, and high-stakes intrigue, Unknown 9: Chapters came to its exciting conclusion in a YouTube livestream. Chapters, is an interactive online experience produced by Reflector in collaboration with Alice & Smith that lets fans shape the future of the Unknown 9 Storyworld.
The game kicked off at gamescom in August 2020 with a clue hidden in the Unknown 9: Awakening trailer. Participants first took a personality quiz to join the Leap Year Society —the Storyworld’s premier secret society— then collaborated on a Discord server to solve cases on the LYS’s behalf.
While Chapters players raced to locate a missing artifact, here at Reflector, we were hard at work shaping the story to audience reactions. Now, we’re drawing back the curtain to answer the six most-asked questions about this epic, interactive journey into the Unknown 9 Storyworld.
1. Why we choose to create an interactive experience?
An interactive experience like Chapters allows new fans to become instant Storyworld protagonists. The experience (which is still playable!) is the perfect vehicle to draw Quaestors —our designation for seekers of the Unknown— into our universe and familiarize them with its rich lore.
Alexis Ottier, IP Producer, elaborates:
“In the game, players must decode audio signals, crack a 200-year-old cipher, solve a murder, rescue a character from another dimension, and expose a traitorous plot within the LYS.”
In short, participants become a part of the U9 Storyworld.
2. How did fans influence the Chapters storyline?
Chapters simply wouldn’t be what it is without its players. Their reactions to weekly missions helped our team craft the story—right down to its leading characters. Says Ottier, “Jacob DeCastillo, the hero of the final unboxing livestream, was initially conceived as a minor character. But Jacob’s interest in the Unknown struck a chord with fans, Quaestors who see the world the same way. When he landed in a black site prison, it was a grave injustice to them.” Playing off of this audience interest, Reflector expanded Jacob’s role in the narrative and ultimately cast him as the game’s in-world protagonist.
This audience interest led Reflector to expand Jacob’s role, ultimately casting him as the game’s in-world protagonist. When he landed in a black site prison, our storytellers knew that players would be emotionally invested in freeing Jacob from his captors.
3. How does Chapters fit into Reflector’s transmedia Storyworld?
Chapters is loaded with connections to other Unknown 9 stories—right from the start. “The game kicks off with a personality quiz named for Dr. Waylan Taylor,” says Ottier. Dr. Taylor is a neuropsychologist and long-time LYS adversary who first appears in the novel Unknown 9: Revelation, available April 13.
Next, participants must put together clues surrounding a mysterious group disappearance from 1908. Listeners of the Unknown 9: Out of Sight podcast will quickly catch the story’s similarity to the show’s first episode. Through solving the case, Chapters players discover the link between the unusual event and the podcast while delving into LYS history, including a callback to the Great Divide event mentioned in the novel Unknown 9: Genesis.
Chapters also sows the seeds for multiple Storyworld elements featured in the upcoming video game. To join an elite sleuthing unit, Chapters players must solve a series of puzzles revealing “the history of a group called the Kolkata Science Institute,” says Ottier. “Their findings show that the game’s protagonist, Haroona, heavily influenced the KSI.” Astute fans will draw the connections between the KSI and the video game trailer… but what it all means is still under wraps.
The connections don’t stop there. Chapters’ livestreamed conclusion centers around an artifact shipped to the U.S. for safekeeping after a security breach at the LYS Paris branch — an event recounted in the comic book series Unknown 9: Torment. All in all, the game’s complex transmedia storytelling delivers the kind of immersive experience that modern audiences relish.
4. What was that strange rock on eBay Canada, anyway?
As Chapters approached its climactic ending, Reflector teamed up with eBay Canada to transport the game’s narrative into the real world. Players partook in a digital scavenger hunt leading to an unusual auction, where bidders had the chance to win Chapters collectibles. The collaboration perfectly embodied Reflector’s storytelling angle—namely, that the events of Unknown 9 are happening all around us.
5. Is it too late to join Chapters?
Not at all! Due to the game’s unique format, Chapters remains totally playable. Those just joining can still solve the cases leading up to the finale. And although the final unboxing event won’t be live, it’s still viewable on YouTube for new Chapters participants and anyone who wants to witness the conclusion.
6. How does Chapters influence the future of Unknown 9?
Chapters’ grand finale was an unboxing livestream hosted by fan-favorite LYS member Jacob. Players collaborated to unlock an old chest secured with a series of elaborate locks. But once Jacob opened the box, nothing went quite as expected, and Quaestors were left with more questions than answers.
What was the artifact Jacob discovered in the lockbox? What language did he start speaking when he touched it, and what was he saying? According to Ottier, “These are the questions we’ll be answering in the future Unknown 9 stories.”
The mysteries continue to unravel…