6 May

Review: Unlock! Escape Adventures (No Spoilers!)

Without spoiling any of the game’s secrets, I’ll guide you through how to play Unlock! Escape Adventures, an escape room board game edition.

Review of Unlock! Escape Adventures  with No Spoilers!

Escape rooms have been one of the latest and greatest entertainment faculties of the 21st century. A group of friends (or complete random people) are sent into a pre-fabricated puzzle room, where a strain of clues, ranging from subtle to outlandish, help the occupants find a way to escape.

Accomplish this feat in a given amount of time, and you win! Fail, and you’re stuck in that room until the end of time! Mwahahaha! Okay, not really. The organizers have a good laugh at your incompetence, then open the door, show you all the secrets you missed, and wish you better luck next time.

While escape rooms are incredibly popular among puzzle-loving civilians, as well as mobile app gamers, how could such an experience possibly translate to a board game? Don’t you need to see the room? To hold the objects and employ them in various ways? Yes, and no, say the creative team at Asmodee, creators of today’s topic of interest…

Unlock! Escape Adventures

Unlock! is a fantastic escape room board game. The original Escape Adventures edition is a complete set, and packs three brain-teasing adventures into one big box. In Canada, the 3-piece set is harder to find. I recommend trying online, where it runs about $30-$40. The individual games are more common, but can run upwards of $20 each.

The Original Unlock! Escape Adventures Set includes:

  • The Island of Doctor Goorse
  • The Formula
  • Squeak & Sausage

Other, newer editions include (but may not be limited to):

  • Unlock! Secret Adventures
    • A Noside Story
    • Tombstone Express
    • The Adventures of Oz
  • Unlock! Exotic Adventures
    • Challenger
    • Scheherazade’s Last Tale
    • The Night of The Boogeymen
  • Unlock! Mystery Adventures
    • The House on the Hill
    • The Nautilus’ Traps
    • The Tonipal`s Treasure
  • Unlock! Heroic Adventures
    • Sherlock Holmes
    • In Pursuit of the White Rabbit
    • Insert Coin

Unlock! Review – No Spoilers!

The hardest part about writing this review of Asmodee’s Unlock! board game escape rooms is that I really can’t tell you much about it. Not without giving away any spoilers, that is, and I refuse to do that! I can tell you that the creators were not lying when they said you do not have to read verbose instructions to learn how to play Unlock! Escape Adventures.

Each adventure contains a deck of cards. You start with only a few cards, then work your way along to unlock more. One is a picture of the place in which you’re stuck, with a series of numbers on it. You’ll have a card for each of those numbers, each depicting an item and brief description. As you move forward, you’ll combine the number son these cards to get new numbers, which unlock new cards in the remainder of the deck.

To help you along, you’ll need to download the Unlock! App from Google Play or Apple Store. This is an absolute must! The app will help guide you through each escape in multiple ways. You’ll enter codes here to unlock different parts of the adventure. It also comes with a timer and thematic background music, helping to increase the suspense as the clock ticks down. And, if necessary, it will provide you with hints if and when you get stuck.

My Personal Observations

Personally, I find these games fascinating. I’ve done real escape rooms before, and while no board game can truly compare to these experiences, this game comes admirably close. All you need is a few friends – or even a single friend, but the more the merrier – the app, and an adventure to play.

As for the level of difficulty, it’s important to realize that games creators feel the need to build something that will present their users with a real challenge. These aren’t like traditional board games, where you learn the rules and play over and over again, with a different scenario occurring each time based on random cards or dice rolls. It’s a single, stream-lined investigatory puzzle game that can only be solved once.

In order to offer any kind of exemplary challenge, the puzzles do have to be hard. Otherwise players would come away feeling they’d wasted their money on something too easy. Make it too hard, and players will simply hate it. I feel like they’ve done a decent job of making the escapes difficult, but not so difficult you have to be a mad scientist to figure them out. Some of the clues will leave you scratching your head, and odds are you’ll need a hint or two to finish each adventure before time expires. So long as your group tries their best and enjoys the experience, who cares?

I think the biggest problem with the game is that, as I mentioned above, you can’t play an adventure twice. Once you know how to escape, the challenge is over. Fortunately, the games aren’t that expensive, and odds are you can get one even cheaper buying used. Once you’ve played, you can sell it too, or pass it on to someone else you know will enjoy it.

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