Review – Flashback: Zombie Kidz
|Baptiste Derrez, Marc-Antoine Doyon
|Laure de Chateaubourg, Jennifer Mati, Michel Verdu
|Le Scorpion Masqué (Hachette Boardgames USA)
Escape rooms have grown in popularity since Unlock! and EXIT appeared in 2017. Many scenarios for both games have appeared, as well as children’s versions of both. Naturally, other players want to jump into the scene, too, and now we have Flashback: Zombie Kidz, which shares a universe with Zombie Kidz Evolution, but no mechanisms are in common. Instead it shares quite a bit of DNA with Unlock! Kids, one of my favorite kids’ games. Does this come close to those heights? Let’s take a look!
Like every “escape game,” the comparison to make here is with Unlock!, especially Unlock! Kids. Like that game, Flashback: Zombie Kidz doesn’t use any kind of app. Instead, each scenario introduces physical “gizmos” that players use to analyze the cards. Furthermore, players are not looking for an actual “exit,” but rather answers to several question cards that appear during the scenario. Once players are done exploring, they basically have to take a quiz and answer all of those questions before moving onto the next one.
Let’s start with the good stuff. The art in this game is absolutely amazing: fun and silly without being serious, despite a zombie invasion happening. The gizmos are a fun concept, and at the end of the three scenarios, the bonus part of the rulebook was a great surprise. The concept of seeing the different perspectives of various people in the pictures is also a fun way to reveal new information.
However, I have some major gripes. The game lets you constantly dig out new cards without having to solve puzzles, since the questions are all at the end. The rulebook repeatedly says “slow down and take your time with each picture before moving on.” That’s like putting candy all over the table while your kid is doing homework and insisting they have to finish the homework first. I had to constantly remind my 9 year old to stop getting out new cards and focus for a minute. I don’t like that the questions are all at the end, and I don’t really like the idea of the “quiz” at all; it’s fairly unsatisfying. Also, the questions usually require you to notice small things in the artwork, and sometimes you need to find them to use the gizmos. This is annoying for people with poor eyesight. Unlock! already figured out to quit doing this several years ago, and changed them to purely “for fun” challenges in Unlock! Kids. The second gizmo you find actually just makes the game harder than if it didn’t exist, and they could have done the concept without the gizmo.
All that said, we had an okay time with Flashback: Zombie Kidz. And I enjoyed it immensely more than Kids Chronicles: Quest for the Moon Stones. But have you ever absolutely loved a book, movie, or video game, and couldn’t wait for the next one, so in the meantime, you consumed the second-rate knockoff version? This felt like a way to pass the time while we wait for the next Unlock! Kids. Perfectly fine, but on a completely lower level.
The Bottom Line
It's a decent time, but it doesn't come close to Unlock! Kids.