Posted in Unlock

Unlock! – Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Thread of Murder

Escape game in a box

It’s been one good, one bad from the Heroic Adventures box set from Unlock so far. Our final game is said to be the middle difficulty of the box, a classic Sherlock Holmes murder mystery.

THE STORY

London, 1889

Mr Hall has been killed. The murder weapon: a statuette used to crack his skull. Your team of sleuths will assist Sherlock Holmes in his investigation. You start at the MORGUE, where the investigation’s first pieces of evidence and the body await you.

THE GAMEPLAY

You’d have thought that a Sherlock Holmes game would have been the hardest but Unlock have created one deemed to be medium difficulty. The issue here is that the puzzles may be medium difficulty but the navigation of the puzzles is far from it. We found playing this game was very hard going. There were points where the links were obvious and you could make quick progress, but there were too many times in which you stared at a huge number of cards with no real clue as to where to go next. In fact, there was one point where we were completely stumped and the hints system didn’t give any clues as to where to go next.

The game is not just based around cards but there is a fold out notebook that provides as a kind of game board for the investigation. The is a nice change to the other games Unlock have created but it doesn’t save itself from being a game that overstretches itself way too far. At one point in the game, you end up with a huge amount of cards in front of you and it seems many are redundant by this point but you are never told to discard them. This makes the game increasingly more difficult. There are also some real leaps of logic that go too far and unfortunately make gameplay rather enjoyable for most of the experience. We wished we had been the murder victim by the end as we wouldn’t have to have lived through it!

DESIGN

The game is designed to look like a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery and it fits well within the theme. None of the design leaves any ambiguity when it comes to playing. It works well when you know where you are supposed to be heading. Here, it’s clear the designers brief was to fill out the puzzles with interesting illustrations with only a few of the designs really important for puzzles. It does what it does well, but it doesn’t save the game.

OVERALL

It’s not the best game from Unlock. In fact, it means that two out of three of the Heroic Adventures games are on the poor side. Insert Coins saves the trilogy but not enough for us to recommend the set as a must play. Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Thread of Murder has real potential but the only crime being committed her is the quality of the game.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Unlock

Unlock! – Insert Coin

Escape game in a box

Having played the hardest of the set, we decided to play the easiest in the hope that it fared batter than the last.

THE STORY

It’s been raining for hours and your phone battery is now flat. This day doesn’t look too good unless… Hey! you know a way to kill boredom: you just have to climb up the ladder to the attic where your grandpa’s dusty old arcade machine is stored.

THE GAMEPLAY

Insert Coin is classed as the easier of the Heroic Adventures box. It seems that the box set of games follow a very similar rule, there is always one that’s more aimed at families and can be completed by a younger audience. This doesn’t make the game less fun. In fact, this is the one, out of all the games we’ve played in the Unlock series we have enjoyed the most. The game is a mixture between an escape game and a retro 80s video game. It flows pretty well and the only times we came a little unstuck, the app gave us a little help. What makes this game stand out from others is its integrated use of AR. Here, the game really comes into its own and really added another dimension to the fun. With this, it meant that we were never quiet sure what was coming next and what new, inventive ways the AR would add to the games. We found that as we played we had smiles on our faces at how inventive it was. It’s almost like Unlock have discovered their second generation game.

DESIGN

The design of this is fantastic. The who game looks like an 8 bit adventure and really pulls on those nostalgic enough to remember them originally. The design takes all the best bits of the games you remember as a kid. There are nods to Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Mario and so much more as you make your way through the game. It’s like the Wreck Ralph of escape games. The visuals of the game are so important to its theme and here, they hit the nail on the head.

OVERALL

This has to be the best Unlock we’ve played so far. If you are going at it for difficulty then steer clear but if you are playing for out and out fun, this is the one for you. A really pleasurable hour.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Unlock

Unlock! – In Pursuit of the White Rabbit

Escape game in a box

We finally delved into a new Unlock box. This time we take a look at the hardest game, In Pursuit of the White Rabbit. A story based on Alice in Wonderland.

THE STORY

This is the unfinished manuscript of an astonishing adventure I have in mind. It is entitled ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Please, help me write an end to it… and help Alice out of the mess I so maliciously got her into…

Lewis Carroll

THE GAMEPLAY

I am all for creators mixing things up and this is what they do with this chapter of the Unlock series. The game mixes the use of the front and back of cards, a story booklet and the app to play the game. It’s billed as hard and therefore the timer starts at 90 minutes instead of the usual 60. The game uses some cool AR technology as part of the puzzles and there are some times where some of the puzzles work really well. The problem is, this is when the fun part of this game stops. The game is hard because half of the time it doesn’t make sense. Some of the leaps of logic are frankly, absurd. We actually got to the end at a limp as some many of the puzzles required such abstract thinking that we actually resorted to finding the solutions booklet. It is beyond the worst of the Unlock games we have played so far. We’ve not experienced any other of their games to be this poor. It left us frustrated by the time we had come to the end.

DESIGN

Designed to be in keeping with the whimsical world of Wonderland, the illustration does its part very well. A number of the puzzles also come within the illustrations and they do work but often are too hidden. Its almost like the designer and illustrator tried to be so clever that it made it almost impossible to complete. Visually great but that’s about it.

OVERALL

By far the worst Unlock game we’ve played. So poor that if it had been the first game we’d have played we may never have played another. It tries to be too clever for its own good and instead ends of collapsing in on itself. We don’t recommend it.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****