We’ve reviewed quite a few of the Unlock games on the site, and they’ve been a lot of fun. Using a largely card-based gameplay (with a few nice extras as the series moved on) it brought escape rooms to your tabletop, giving some challenging gameplay along with fun story telling and a real focus on teamwork. But you needed a decent bit of table space to get properly spread out, which was fine unless you were in the car, on a plane, on the beach or anywhere else where you fancied doing a bit of sleuthing without a table handy. But now the Unlock! series has arrived in book form, which is excellent news for anyone who fancies doing the games on the go, but less so if you’ve already played through the first set of challenges.
This book is, basically, the original set of Unlock challenges collected together and put into a book. The puzzles are the same, the way you combine numbers to work out where to go next is the same, and as such you might want to take a look at our original review of the “proper” version of Unlock by giving this link a little love. That’ll give you an idea of how this works, how the various puzzles work and how great it is to be able to use cards in an interesting and new way to mimic an escape room of sorts.
So if the cards were so great and central to the working of the game, how can the book be just as successful? Well there’s the sticking point – it’s not quite as fun. The idea of laying your cards out in a nice organised way to be able to see everything you’ve got, to combine them together and rifle through the deck to find the next card from adding up the values on the two cards you’re combining (a locked box and a key, for example)… it all gets lost in paperback form. Don’t get me wrong, the puzzles here are still fun and there’s still the mind-bending moments when you really can’t figure out what to do next and suddenly realise it’s been staring you in the face for the last 5 minutes, but it just loses a bit of an edge.
As such if you’ve got the space to play the original game then I’d definitely recommend that version over this, but if you’re pushed for space or just want something you can crack out on the plane or at your desk at work when things get a bit quiet, this will serve you nicely. It’s not the same, and it’s definitely not as good as the proper version of the game, but it’s a worthwhile new way to deliver the puzzles if a table full of cards isn’t a possibility.
Review copy provided by Asmodee