Unlock! Escape Adventures Review
If you’ve never been to an Escape Room before, I strongly suggest getting a group of friends together and giving it a try. It is a fantastic experience for going out with friends, as well as a great teambuilding exercise for companies. For those who have tried an Escape Room, or just cannot find the time to get out to one, Unlock! Escape Adventures offers a very similar experience, but in the comfort of your own home. With multiple different adventures to choose from with a varying degree of difficulty, there is something for everyone! Let’s dive in.
What is an Escape Room Card Game?
In traditional Escape Room experiences, users are given 60 minutes to complete all the necessary puzzles and escape the room they currently sit in. It is very similar when playing the card game, except you are attempting to solve a mystery within 60 minutes, using the clues provided in the box. Let’s setup our first game!
After playing the tutorial that is included with each Unlock! set – which will teach you the basics of the game and what different cards mean – you are all ready to start. You will be directed to download the free application that will be used to track your progress and get you started on your adventure. Let’s exam the application further.
The free application is available on the iOS App Store and the Android Google Play store, and comes at no additional cost. The app is required to enjoy the experience, but can be used offline so no data or network connection is needed. The app serves as your reference for much of the game. After selecting which adventure you are partaking in, the app will serve as your story introduction, where you will see how much time you have left, will track your time penelites that are given when inccorectly attempting to solve a clue, and even where you will insert codes to move further into the game.
Although the game does a poor job of explaining all of the components of the application, most of it is self explanatory, and if we spent more than 30 seconds figuring it out, I’d be surprised. The app can – if you want it to – play subtle background music that will suite the adventure you are on, but we choose to lower the volume in favour of good communication between the 5 individuals playing the game at the table.
How it Plays
Once you’ve selected your adventure in the application, a brief story will begin detailing the mystery you are about to engage in. You will receive lots of details, but the most important information you will need are the card numbers and letters that you will need to pull to start your adventure. After pulling the required cards, you’ll begin to notice your countdown timer has begun. You have 60 minutes.
Using the cards the game gives you early on, you begin to put together clue and unlock new cards. You will often find location cards, and on each of these cards, letters and numbers will be visible – and sometimes difficult to find – that will allow you to pull more and more cards from the deck. Obviously, the more cards you have, the more you will have to work with. Once you find yourself with a pile of cards in front of you, starting to piece them all together begins.
Puzzle Piece cards will be what you want to focus on first. The blue and red cards will often fit together nicely, and it will make logical sense. For example, in the tutorial you are given a key (Blue) and a desk (red) right at the beginning of the game, so logically one can assume that the key will open the desk. And when it does, more cards or new actions will be made available to you.
Yellow cards indicate something that is locked. In the case of the office tutorial, the door leaving the office requires a specific pin code to open it. Once you think you’ve found the pin code for a specific locked item, you will enter that code via the application, and that will determine whether you are right or wrong. If you are right, more of the game will open up to you. If you are wrong, you will enjoy a time penalty, and less time to finish your adventure.
Green cards represent puzzles that need to be solved, and once they are solved, the card will turn into a puzzle piece card, which can then be combined with something else to help solve the mystery.
There are a number of other twists and turns, but talking about them here might make you anticipate them, and will ruin the sense of adventure and exploration. So let’s focus on how well this work…
Is it Good?
Our experience with Unlocked! was slightly tainted because of the size of our group. Game one – which we played with 5 individuals – was less fun and more frustrating than our second game – which we played with 3 individuals. Having too many magnifying glasses at the table makes Unlock! a more frustrating experience, so right off the top we recommend playing this with 2 or 3 peoples, maximum. With three players, we realized that first off, people had more opportunities to investigate card and ultimately found solutions faster; and second, everyone felt engaged the entire time, rather then feeling left out should 1 or 2 puzzles pass without any input from them.
So once we found the perfect players number, Unlock! quickly became one of our favourite hour long experiences. When compared to other escape room style games, it trends to the easier side as you aren’t required to fold things, rip things, or pieces together sections of a half dozen cards. In fact, there is no destruction in Unlock! at all, which means the game can be shared with others after you have completed the adventure yourself.
As we played through our third and fourth games, I was worried that at some point, one of the puzzles or one of the solutions would seem unfair, but that never was the case. In situations where we were stumped for long periods of time, we realized it was silly mistakes that were holding us back, not issues with the game structure or puzzle layout. Even the wording on the cards never posed a major problem as it was always fairly obvious.
Ultimately, however, the application was going to make or break the game, and again, we were pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to use. While some of the buttons on the screen were not explained well during the tutorial experience, everything seemed fairly self explanatory. For example, when asking the application for a hint, a keyboard will pop up and you’ll punch in the card number of letter that you need help with. This isn’t explained as well as I would have liked, but again…self explanatory in my opinion.
Unlock! gives me all the same feelings as doing an in person escape room, and that is ultimately what players are going to want when purchasing these games. At 14.99 per pack, they are an inexpensive hour of entertainment that can be shared with others after playing. If you are looking for a controlled 60 minutes of fun and love to work out puzzles of varying difficulty, then give this franchise a shot. You likely won’t be disappointed!