There can only be one solution and that is mine, of course. Even if the stupid app doesn’t accept it and is constantly taking a minute off our time. This must clearly be a mistake in the app, because I never make a mistake! Okay, let’s see what the app thinks, how should we solve this? So I’ll just take a hint. And… Wait a minute, why do I have to use the old corkscrew with the bottle? Well, there’s a message coming through. And when I use this one, it looks completely different. It changes the code! And suddenly the next room is unlocked. You could never have figured that out without a clue, who uses corkscrews nowadays?
You won’t need corkscrews in Unlock! Mystery Adventures but a lot of brain power.
Unlock! Mystery Adventures finally unlocks the app!
In an article about escape games, Unlock! from the Space Cowboys was of course also a topic. At that time I criticized the lack of courage to integrate the app more into the game. Only on one adventure I could see the potential that was provided by the app.
Also with Unlock! Mystery Adventures you can’t play without an app! But this time it is simply better connected. New possibilities are offered to you. Be it machines, which have to be activated according to a certain pattern or the acoustic interaction with your environment or the depressing countdown you will find in the second adventure. Through these approaches the app comes out of its shadowy existence as a code checker and hint giver. Finally it has a real interactive sense.
Thus, there is still a mobile phone on the gaming table that should not only have full batteries but is also best in the airplane mode. Otherwise the distraction by incoming notifications is too big. You can’t do without the mobile phone / tablet completely due to the design of the game.
The app is good, no question. But I still can wish for something. So I simply miss an overview of the games I have already played. If I don’t reach for other storage media or make a screenshot, after three months I don’t know how much time I actually needed and how my performance was rated. The information is available at least at the end of the adventure. After all it is shown to me there.
Three escape rooms you have to escape, right?
What I find most difficult to do now, while writing these lines, is to classify Unlock! Mystery Adventures. After all, the basic tenor is that all three adventures should rather be about the mysterious. And indeed, the classical scheme “locked up in a room” is actually only used in the first adventure and even then it’s already a hybrid, because a whole villa is your adventure playground. But still, you can already feel the direction in which the Space Cowboys want to push you. The puzzles are means to an end and only serve to tell a story. And as the adventures increase in difficulty, the story becomes more and more important.
Of course you can’t enjoy all the freedom here either. The villa, for example, may be large, but only the rooms containing open puzzles or clues are available to you. And of course the story is very linear and you have to solve the puzzles in the right order. Thus the game with its mystery adventures reminds in many places rather of a classical Point And Click Adventure.
In an adventure you are supposed to help a group. However, the information you need to help them can be found in various places. You’ll need to visit and find them first. This is where Unlock! Mystery Adventures is very different from the previous one. You move from place to place, solve the puzzle of the place and take items to the next place, where the process starts all over again.
The difficulty with the difficulty level
All publishers of escape games have quickly realized that they need to provide people with a guide to give them a rough idea of how difficult an adventure is. The evaluation is not always easy. Especially when it’s a series like the EXIT games, where every single game is in relation to already existing or future games.
Unlock! Mystery Adventures is a bit cleverer. Here the Space Cowboys simply pack three adventures thematically into one bundle and only have to rate each game in this context. But even this rather simple method fails at one important point: Namely the estimation how difficult an adventure is for me as a player. Can I still play a simple adventure with my 11-year-old daughter or is it already too difficult? Or is difficult really difficult? Or do I feel underchallenged? That’s why you should definitely start with the simplest adventure. If you push yourself to your limits, the rest of the adventures won’t necessarily be easier. Of course this will be at the expense of the fun of the game.
Underwater villa next to a pirate island
Just like Unlock! Escape Adventures are three adventures included in Unlock! Mystery Adventures.
The easiest adventure is The House on the Hill. In a small community a house has become a meeting place for paranormal phenomena. Of course you go to this house to put an end to the haunting. The focus of this game is very much on the puzzles and doesn’t bring any big surprises. The story or the topic flows along and constantly pushes you towards the goal. Even if the first adventure is the easiest, you probably won’t be able to avoid taking one or two hints. Older children can already play along here and take part in the puzzles.
The second adventure is The Nautilus’ Traps. Since the submarine is under water, it is already clear where this adventure takes place. The box already shows us that an octopus somehow has its fingers or tentacles in play. But that the game has a special trick in the game mechanics is not shown to us. This trick makes the adventure just as nerve-racking. All in all The Wreck of the Nautilus is challenging without seeming unfair. Of course you might need a few more hints here than you did with The House on the Hill, but that doesn’t really cause frustration.
With The Tonipal’s Treasure we are going to a tropical island. Here we search – who would have thought it? – a treasure. The island has everything a real pirate adventure needs: rum, ships, parrots and of course the treasure. The fact that the parrot is not as dangerous as the octopus from the second adventure cannot be denied, can it? Here the level of difficulty rises noticeably once again. Often enough the actual puzzle is solved fast, but the machines, which you have to operate with the correct parameters, let the mind ache already the one or other time violently. If you don’t get further a hint brings you fast on the right track.
Unlock! Mystery Adventures carry on
Well, Unlock! Mystery Adventures changed my mind. Back in the first wave of escape games, I gave Escape Room: The Game my clear recommendation, because the story captivated me more than it did with Unlock! Escape Adventures. Does this turn completely around in the second wave. Yes it does. Finally Unlock! can show its strength: The integration with the app clearly sets the game apart from its competitors. The question that now arises here is, of course: Can this still be done in the next Unlock! game?
Also the stronger focus on the story is good for Unlock! Mystery Adventures and makes sure that you can feel more identified with the game world. Especially the Nautilus adventure is very successful in this case.
Of course you still have the problem that you can only play the game once. But once you have played the game, you can lend or resell it without any problems, because no components are destroyed. That limits the puzzles of course and restricts them to the app or maybe notes you make. Puzzles that you have to fold according to certain rules or markings that you paint in order to decipher a code are not necessary anymore. Here of course the personal tastes are different and while for some the destruction of game material is a no-go, for me, it’s the non-plus ultra in solving puzzles.
The fight against Time Waster
What I really like about Unlock! Mystery Adventures is exactly this avoiding destroying components. Because in this way Unlock! bypasses a kind of puzzle, which in my eyes has no longer any place in this genre of games. Puzzles which only serve to consume time. The filling out of fields or decoding of text passages are classic candidates for these puzzles. Furthermore the group is split up by it. You no longer think about a puzzle together, but one of you draws, folds or searches and the other players are doomed to wait for him.
The focus on teamwork means that younger players can also be taken at the table. The first adventure was no problem for our 11-year-old daughter, I think she could also have taken part in the second one. But the scary setting of an octopus and underwater scared her off, even though the first setting also looks rather dark. Obviously, the last one was absolutely nothing for her. But that wasn’t because of the theme, it was simply because of the level of difficulty.
Final thoughts on Unlock! Mystery Adventures
Unlock! Mystery Adventures is a successful evolution of the series. Finally the app is properly integrated into the game and the focus is more on experiencing the story than on solving the puzzles. Of course not every adventure is necessarily equally good. But tastes are different. My personal favorite is the Nautilus adventure. This is followed by the treasure hunt, leaving the house at the end. Here the story was not so good for me. Also the lack of new mechanics or twists and turns might have meant that the first adventure didn’t convince me at all. But this is only true in the context of the Mystery Adventures. Compared to the original Unlock even the first adventure is one of the better adventures.