Posted in Unlock

Unlock! – The Island of Doctor Goorse

Escape game in a box

Billed as the hardest of the three games in the Escape Adventures set. We find ourselves separated on a remote island with no way to communicate.

THE STORY

The day had started off well. After weeks of hesitation, you finally accepted the invitation of Archibald Goorse, the eccentric billionaire, archaeological rarities collector. You’d been flown to his private island, located a few miles from the Bahamas, in an old twin-engine. Unfortunately, the aircraft had been caught in a storm and you only just had time to bail out with a parachute before seeing the plane crash land in the middle of the jungle. After losing consciousness, you wake up on a windswept beach. Fortunately, despite some bruises, you have nothing broken. Instead, your group is now split in two teams. How are you going to join forces to successfully leave this cursed island?

THE GAMEPLAY

Billed as the hardest game in the set, there is good reason. First off, it’s created so that the first half of the game your team split in two and must solve puzzles in order to be brought together. This means it is the first Unlock game we’ve played where you really cannot play it as one person. In fact, playing it solo would really defeat the object of having to work apart to come together. The second reason it comes across as difficult is because it feels like the designer of the game has tried to be deliberately vague in places to make you really think. What this actually does is makes you sit and stare at the cards for some time without really getting to grips with what is going on. In fact, this also means that the whole story is really lost in translation. The game is linear and, as with us, you seem to be able to accidentally jump ahead of yourself and end up missing something vital. It does also mean this game comes across as frustrating. Other harder level games in the series are hard because they make you think. This one make you go “eh?!”.

It seems strange to be writing something negative about an Unlock game but for us this one missed the mark. Some of the puzzles are a little tedious and the end really does make you lose the will to live!

DESIGN

The game looks great but it’s clear the designer has been encouraged to make things a little tricky, particularly with the end. The translation for the instructions doesn’t help granted but it’s a partly down to the illustration that makes it so difficult. We felt it was a little bit about going “back to the drawing board” with this one.

OVERALL

It’s safe to say we didn’t particularly enjoy this one. The gameplay was difficult for the sake of it rather than because it needed it and therefore we lost interest. The concept of being split and unable to communicate with the other half of your team is interesting but not enough to save this game.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Unlock

Unlock! – Squeak and Sausage

Escape game in a box

Profesor Noside returns in the Squeak and Sausage adventure. Whereas most of the companies escape games follow a new theme, Noside seems to be their original, reoccurring villain and he’s back up to no good!

THE STORY

Blasted Professor Noside! Once again, your old enemy has stirred up an evil plan, but you have courageously slipped into his headquarters to prevent it. While you wander in the corridors of this old shack, a trap door opens beneath your feet and you fall into a dark and damp dungeon. Your screams will not help you: you’re prisoners of the professor. The world is lost forever… Unless you get out of here and sabotage the plans of Noside. You are our last hope. 

THE GAMEPLAY

This is the second Professor Noside adventure we’ve played. The good news is that the quality and gameplay is still good. If anything, this adventure is a step up from the last. Once again, you must thwart the Professor before your time runs out. It does rely a little more on the traditional hidden numbers than previous games but if you’ve played previous games then you’ll be adept at looking for these anyway. The content is very family friendly and can easily be accessed by everyone. The game flows well. The only sticking point we found was down to our inability to add up correctly rather than anything else. The signposting in the game is pretty well incorporated and the game on the whole make sense. There is one section where a puzzle seems a little pointless but doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the game. Unlike some of the other Unlock games, this one relies less on the app for its puzzles. Most are done with the cards and the app supports gameplay as usual.

DESIGN

The game design and illustration fits the usual Noside stories. The illustrations also find some fiendish ways to hide numbers and even bring back some retro objects which you will definitely need to explain to your children. The design does well with what it has to play with as a story. On the whole, the story is limited but the illustration brings it to life well.

OVERALL

It’s not our favourite game but is certainly a solid chapter in the Unlock series. The game tries to bring an exciting storyline but it is simple and therefore doesn’t build as much excitement as others. Still, a good game and will provide an hours entertainment for a family.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Unlock

Unlock! – The Formula

Escape game in a box

With everyone being encouraged to stay at home as much as they can, we thought it was time to catch up with our reviews of games that can be played from home. Having played a large number of the Unlock games, we thought we would revisit in order to help you decide which ones you might enjoy playing next.

THE STORY

Mission #MK-053

SEP 30 1961 / TOP SECRET

1. Objectives

The Department is concerned by the lack of recent reports from Dr. Hoffmann. This genius chemist is involved in the MK project. In his last report, he claimed that his “truth serum” was close to the required reliability. We want Hoffmann and his formula.

2. Means

The team will be taken to the subway station (CLASSIFIED) and will infiltrate the lab, which opens with the code (CLASSIFIED). You make your way through the maze of New York subway tunnels. In the middle of the tracks, you find a trap door in the ground. It’s open and light shows through it.

THE GAMEPLAY

Unlike most of the other Unlock games we’ve played so far, this one is the most like an escape room. Whereas some of the games have characters within them, this one is about you exploring the environment you’ve found yourselves in. The game flows reasonably well but there is a couple of occasions where the links between what you’ve done and where to go next aren’t always obvious. Using the hints on the app gives you a steer in the right direction and you find your are back on track pretty quickly. More so in this game than others, we found that some of the cards were red herrings. Although they contained the usual design they weren’t needed in the game in the same way. It didn’t hold you up as such but did leave us pondering if we’d made a mistake and somehow bypassed it. On the whole, the game plays well and is a good example of what Unlock can do well. Here, the app not only provides your timer, hints, codes and machines, it also uses audio puzzles as part of the experience.

DESIGN

The game’s illustrations work perfectly will the story line and the way the game plays. The usual hidden numbers are well disguised and provides a bit of a challenge. The design also helps with the games flow. There could have been a couple more sign posting clues in a couple of the cards but on the whole the design works well with the game overall.

OVERALL

It’s probably our favourite unlock game to date. It works really well as an experience but also feels the most like an escape room experience. With the addition of a different type of puzzle beyond the usual, it adds another dimension to the unlock game series.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****