Review – Unlock!: Extraordinary Adventures

Extraordinary Adventures that feel ordinarily fun.

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Designer Mathieu Casnin, Renaud Chaillat, Jack Gitz

Artist Laurent Bazart, Cyrille Bertin, Neriac

Publisher Space Cowboys

Length 45-75min

Release Date 2022

Player Count 1-6

The Unlock! franchise isn’t going anywhere, and escape room and puzzle fans everywhere are okay with that. In the latest installment, players will have the chance to jump into a nostalgic video game, solve a case in Hollywood, and explore an unknown planet while making a new friend. 

Review

If you’re unfamiliar with Unlock! games, know that each adventure is a deck of cards with puzzles on one side and numbers, letters, or symbols on the other. Players will use the opening card, which is usually a puzzle, to find more cards and progress through the adventure, with the help of the free companion app. Even if an adventure is not well-designed, it’s still a fun way to spend an hour. Each Unlock! box also includes a 10-card tutorial that can teach anyone the basics of the game in less than 10 minutes. 

In Restart, players take on the role of a mom who gets trapped in a beloved childhood video game. The soundtrack is incredibly catchy, and the bit-style artwork on the cards is both nostalgic and difficult to puzzle through. This is supposed to be the easiest of the three adventures, but there were multiple puzzles that stumped the experienced group I played with. Moreover, this storyline isn’t designed very well, as we ended up skipping over 2 portions of the storyline by accident, which got us stuck on puzzles we couldn’t solve because we didn’t have the needed cards. 

The next two adventures each feature a dedicated button in the app that players interact with to advance the story. This is a welcome addition to the Unlock! series, and because each adventure has a tailored button, it helps the adventures feel more immersive. 

In Hollywood Confidential, players will follow leads to investigate a murder that turns out to be much more. Set in what feels like 1940s-50s America, this adventure has a strong soundtrack that pairs well with the theme and features plenty of twists and turns in the detective storyline. The artwork for the cards also features cameos of famous actors and actresses, so if players are stuck figuring out the answer to the next card, they can try and figure out the actor or actress the card is representing. This is the strongest adventure of the bunch, and a number of moments felt like the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series. 

In W.A.F.F.’s Odyssey, players traverse a strange planet with the help of a friend after an epic crash-landing sequence. This adventure captures the feeling of exploration and discovery well, and the back-and-forth players partake in while learning their new friend’s language is engaging. A few of the puzzles are tricky to solve, especially because there are multiple numbered cards that you can’t get hints for. There’s also a fun buildable at the end. W.A.F.F.’s Odyssey is good-not-great, which makes it pretty on pay with the rest of the Unlock! series. 

Unlock! Extradoriday Adventures turns out to be fairly ordinary. The adventures are fun, but recognize that there is a bit of a dud, a good one like what you would expect, and a really good one that’s better than you would expect. This is a solid Unlock! box, especially with the inclusion of an adventure-specific button on the app for two of the included adventures, but it doesn’t reach the full potential of what Unlock! could be. 

Space Cowboys (Asmodee North America) kindly provided a review copy. 

The Bottom Line

A bit of a dud, a good one, and an almost-great one make for a fun Unlock! box.

 

7

spencer
Author: Spencer Patterson

I'm a resident director, writer, and board game reviewer. My wife is my favorite gaming partner, and our daughters are my favorite reading partners. X: @unstuffedwhale