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Unlock Epic Adventures is the seventh box in the Unlock Series and contains 3 ‘Epic Adventures’: The seventh screening, The dragon’s seven t...

Unlock: Epic Adventures Unlock: Epic Adventures

Unlock: Epic Adventures

Unlock: Epic Adventures



Unlock Epic Adventures is the seventh box in the Unlock Series and contains 3 ‘Epic Adventures’: The seventh screening, The dragon’s seven tests and Mission #07, each one harder than the next. If you’re familiar with the Unlock games, then nothing more needs to be said (apart from Mission #07 is my favourite of the lot). If you’re not then read on. No spoilers were harmed in the making of this review...

Gameplay

Each adventure is contained in a deck of 60 cards and a companion app which is necessary to play the game. Each of the 60 cards has a number (or other identifiers) on its back which are pivotal to how the game works. The top card in the deck contains the introduction on one side and the initial location on the reverse. There is almost no setup time (just place the deck of cards on the table and start the app) and the rules can be explained in about 5 minutes. If you’re playing for the first time, each box also contains an additional tutorial deck of 10 cards which can teach the rules by playing through a mini-mission before starting one of the adventures.

Easy to follow rules

Once you’ve read the starting card and flipped it, you’ll usually see some obvious numbers and/or letters in grey circles. This is the primary mechanism of the game and it tells you to find the corresponding cards in the deck and put them face-up on the table. Sometimes there will be hidden numbers on the cards, which also permit you to take the corresponding card, don’t forget to inspect every card if you get stuck.

The story is told in the text and images on each card and the designers of all the Unlock games have done a great job in telling very different (and interesting) stories across each adventure. There are also object cards, whose numbers should be combined, the sum of which will indicate another card in the deck that you’ll be allowed to take. For example card 14 (a magnifying glass) can be combined with card 65 (a marble statue) to take card 79 (14 + 65) that reveals a new clue hidden on the plinth of the statue (this is not a spoiler as I just made it up).

A 'machine' card being used in the app

There are also machine cards which will require the app. I’ve not played all the Unlock boxes but I am always surprised at just how much variation you can get out of one deck of cards. It is certainly true that the designers are not limited to ‘you’re stuck in a room and you have to get out in 60 minutes’. This variety ultimately comes from how you interact with the machines (using the app).

The app will also provide hints if you get stuck. Which I recommend using fast and often if you’re unsure what to do next. Instead of taking hints you could guess at what cards join together but doing this or many other guesses (by adding cards together or guessing on a machine) will often result in a penalty card, these take 1 min of your overall time from the countdown timer in the app.

These games try to recreate the experience that you’d have if did a real escape room, there is a timer counting down and you do feel the pressure of completing within the time.

77 minutes to solve the Dragons Seven Tests

I found that sometimes the cards or even the solutions were quite obscure and even after being told the solution or stumbling upon the answer, we weren’t quite sure how we got to that stage or even how the answer works. This was a bit disappointing as you’re robbed of the ‘ah-hah, I’m such an idiot!’ moments that make deduction games shine. After you complete an adventure you’re given a rating out of 5 stars, (disclaimer - I’ve not got more than 3 stars). But the best thing about these games, as opposed to the Exit: The Game series, is that nothing is destroyed and you can freely give it to some friends to try or trade it away.

I see this screen a lot, taking a hint

There is a good mix of puzzles and different ways to use the app and cards in this box. I am continually amazed at the imagination of the designers of these games. There is one section in the Dragons’ seven tests where you’re instructed to work in two teams (hence its a 2-6 player range not the usual 1-6). Having said that, the solutions do start to feel a bit repetitive, after-all there’s only so much you can do with a single deck of cards. However, Mission #07 did stretch what was possible and has easily been my favourite Unlock mission so far.

When the cards are face down you can only see the next number in the stack. Seeing any number can be gamed a little bit and if the object combinations add up to a number seen in the stack then you could guess… Initially I was annoyed that the stack of cards was not in numerical order. So I spent the first 5 minutes arranging, however I quickly learnt that you're not supposed to do this. The OCD in me struggles not to reorder them, but doing so will give you an uncalled-for advantage and cause other issues. A benefit of not sorting them is that the new location cards visible objects often appear just on top of of the deck.

Cards which are answers to the puzzles will never be on top of the deck. You and your team will have to search the deck for the card number you think is the solution. The rules suggest splitting the searching between the players, which keeps everyone involved (not just the alpha who just has to handle the cards). Splitting the card search amongst the team gives more eyes the opportunity to see the backs of all the cards. Which will probably help to solve later riddles.

A lot of empty space

The only criticism I have of the components is the size of the box. There are three decks of cards and a few bits of paper. And a lot a wasted space taken up by the plastic insert. I wish publishers wouldn’t feel the need to make boxes that belie the size of the components.

Conclusion

I will always sit and play an Unlock game and will enjoy it but due to the constraints of a single deck of cards to contain the entire game, I think they are limited in what they can achieve. I would recommend any of the unlock games but I would suggest, and prefer, Kosmos' Exit: The Game series instead. You can get two of those for the price of one unlock. Which I think is a good trade. If you can get an unlock in a trade or play a friends copy then they’re definitely worth your time, if not your money.

I’d like to thank Asmodee for sending this review copy. Many local game stores will have Unlock games if not this one, although they may not be open currently. You can use this link http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ to find and use their online store during this difficult time.

Designer: Cyril Demaegd
Bgg page: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/294612/unlock-epic-adventures
Play time: 60 minutes.
Players: 1 – 6 players

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