If you’re a fan of escape rooms, then the Unlock series of puzzle games are going to shoot straight to the top of your wishlist! Similar to their physical counterparts, Unlock pits you against the clock, where you and up to six players, in a co-operative manner, have to figure out a number of crafty riddles that will drive you through a narrative.
Unlock comes with three different adventures in it. Before you play any of them, you’ll also need to download the free smartphone app (available on both Google Play and the App Store for iOS). You’ll use the app to pump in answers you believe to have deduced throughout the venture – and it also acts as the 60-minute timer with which you have to complete the quest.
The game works with a clever deck mechanic, in which each card is numbered. You and your team are given a set number of specific cards to start with. You’ll have to work out patterns and codes (we’re trying not to give any spoilers, here!) from the limited information you have on your starter cards, by pumping your answers into the app. Get it right? Hooray! You’ll find out the next clue cards you’ve ‘unlocked’ from the deck, which will aid your progress.
Get it wrong? You can ask the app for clues (kind of like how a regular escape room drip- feeds bamboozled players information), but beware… Each clue will remove precious minutes from your remaining time – so you’d better make sure taking a clue is worth the sacrifice!
Unlike the Kosmos series of Exit games that are destructive (in those deck-based escape games you may have to cut up or draw on cards), Unlock doesn’t have you ruining the components. They are, of course, one-time adventures, but since you get three different scenarios in each Unlock pack, each game offers up a fantastic experience.
The cartoon artwork is light-hearted in places and of a caricature nature. The plots are delightful – in places this is a much more tongue-in-cheek escapade in comparison to the more serious, creepy Exit games that see you in doom-laden scenarios. In one of the Unlock adventures, for example, titled ‘Squeek and Sausage’, you’re attempting to thwart the mad, clown-like Professor Noside who is hell-bent on world domination, all while being trapped in his kooky lab. However, whatever Unlock plot you play, the story is there for all to absorb – as cards are unlocked, you’ll feel like you’re making actual progress.
The Unlock games by Space Cowboys are one of the closest things you’ll get to a ‘point-and- click’ adventure game for a PC or console. Only here, you get to play it with a whole table of co-adventurers, all working, cheering and laughing together. If you’re looking to get some of your ‘non-board gaming friends’ into the hobby, perhaps Unlock is the key game for you.