Again the clock is ticking towards zero. Why did I let myself be talked into playing another adventure again Didn’t I really want to retire as the undefeated champion after the last Unlock! But as so often happens in life, things turned out differently than expected. One day it was lying there, that little game box. It looked so innocent, as if it couldn’t hurt a player.
For days I tried to resist her. But there was this constant whisper in the room: “Open up, I’m not evil.” And so one Sunday afternoon it happened what had to happen. I opened the Box of Pandora, or rather the Unlock! Secret Adventures, the temperature in the room dropped noticeably and the last thing I noticed was the devilish laughter of Noside the evil scientist.
Unlock! Secret Adventures – Proven and still new!
What can you expect when you buy the third adventure box from Unlock! Secret Adventures? Actually, the same thing that was already in the two boxes before. You get a tutorial and three sealed card packs with at least 60 cards each. Nothing new and earth-shattering so far. But again the Space Cowboys can surprise. Punch cards and a map from OZ are also included in the game. That makes you want more.
So let’s have a look at the punching cards, because unlike EXIT, we are not forbidden to take a closer look here. So what do we have here? Shells and bushes or something, ah okay the shells are for the second adventure, because this one seems to be in the Wild West.
Then we have a map of OZ and a mirror with holes and these weird bushes. Well we can store the map and the mirror at OZ. At least the map says that it’s OZ’s map and mirrors are well kept in fairy tales anyway. Well then the funny bushes are probably for the first adventure after all. Well, we will find out during the Unlock! Secret Adventures.
On the app, ready, go
Who would have thought it: Even in the third release of Unlock! you can’t live without an app. Again, the app guides you through the adventures and provides you with everything you need. In addition to entering the correct codes, various machines are also used again, which need to be operated, rewired or made to run by other strange actions.
The use of the app varies greatly between the three adventures. If you go to OZ or face the evil clown Noside, the app stays in the background and serves you only as a whistleblower, timer, etc. In the Wild West, however, the app is very dominant. However not in the sense that you have to hang over the app all the time, but it is very much connected to the game.
But there is one new feature the app introduces, of course nothing you will notice immediately, it’s used too discreetly for that. But later on, when you have experienced the adventures of Unlock! Secret Adventures, then maybe you’ll get this aha-experience.
However, I still miss the opportunity to look at my already achieved results. How else can I, as a responsible blogger, report how long it took us to complete each adventure? Should I write this on analogue paper?
Wait a minute, I know you!
An old buddy of ours is joining us. The scientist Noside, who was also at work in the first Unlock! is back. Is no prison safe enough to hold insane clowns for long? Well, what’s done is done, and so we have no choice but to hunt down the villain again.
The adventure starts quite unusually, because you don’t turn over the first card right away. On the contrary, it clearly says on the first card that the app starts and follows the instructions. So I start the app and it brings a little smile to my face. Again the app is used sensibly and brings the game to a higher level of enjoyment.
Less than an hour later Noside is captured and we feel the sweet taste of victory. What distinguishes the Noside adventures are the wacky puzzles. Other blogger colleagues say the same. And yes, it feels like the earlier point and click adventures of Lucasarts. Which may please the old players at the table, but confuses the younger ones.
Help is on the way
Because we had also brought our big daughter to the table to support us. While the first puzzles were still very clearly structured (combine object A with suitable object B to get object C), the puzzles became more and more twisted and demanded victims. For our daughter, who doesn’t know this kind of computer games, it was simply too abstruse at some point and so mum and dad had to do a lot of the work. Also for us the puzzles were partly too wacky and we had to think around the corner.
However, the real strength of our kid is the ability to find the hidden numbers on the cards. Here children are simply unbeatable. Sure, even the Space Cowboys have learned here. The numbers are still well hidden, but in the Unlock! Secret Adventures it is a bit better than in the previous games. So it’s not so frustrating anymore if you find a number only by the hint of the app.
Although the story about Noside is the simplest, we did not get along without clues. But that’s okay, that’s why they are there and where we needed the clues, they really helped us and showed us the right direction.
Next we headed for the Wild West. A leisurely ride on the train and enjoying the breathtaking landscape, what could possibly happen? Quite a lot, definitely, because the second adventure is a really wild ride. The adventure is a criminal case and in the end there is of course a suspect to arrest.
Since I like games where decisions have to be made and this decision determines whether I win or not, the Tombstone Express has already earned points here. In addition, the different actions during the adventure made it a special experience. You even have to get up while you’re playing to get on the…
Of course, it was again necessary to combine objects to get closer to the solution. And as already mentioned, the app did an excellent job here. It would have the best adventure out of the Unlock! universe if the developers hadn’t messed up two things.
Deductions in the B grade
And so the Tombstone Express gets a sad smiley face for not explicitly pointing out before the game starts that you need the shells and the strange bushes for this adventure. Which then turned out not to be really bushes. Now you could say, you already suspected yourself that the shells belong to the Tombstone Express. That’s right.
However, a little time passed while punching out the items and playing the game so we simply forgot to put them in the box and left them well stored. In fact, when we were asked to take them out, we took a good look at them and asked ourselves which parts they meant. Thank god the app has a pause function. Little tip from us, put the shells and the “bushes” within reach when you get onto the Tombstone Express.
Well, and the other mistake they made in the second last / last puzzle. Here we didn’t see the solution. Also another play group, which we observed during the trip with the Tombstone Express, got stuck here. Now that’s not so bad, because there are the clues. At least that’s what we thought.
Because the clue you get for this riddle will not get you anywhere. And without the correct code, the game cannot continue. Such a deadlock just can’t be. We were even looking for Boardgamegeek after we tried to solve the puzzle with a stopped time of 20 minutes. Only when the forum of BGG was about to load, we noticed the solution. In retrospect, I have to say: Yes, the solution is simple and it’s understandable. But sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees and that’s exactly what clues have to be able to do!
For all desperate people
One more thing that stands out about the Tombstone Express is the sheer number of cards. No other adventure from the Unlock! Secret Adventures and previous games have as many exposed cards during the the game. While we didn’t have any problems with that and even found it to be a very well implemented mood. Had our test group B found this disturbing and we can understand their arguments against it very well.
So be warned: Your gaming table will be overflowing with adventure cards and you could lose track.
One OZ there and back
Well, you can’t hide what this last adventure was all about. You are Dorothy and a tornado brings you together with your faithful companion Toto to the magical land of OZ. And there you are about to commit the crime of killing a witch. However, in OZ, witch-murderer goes unpunished and you are even celebrated as liberators. Well, if you know the story, that’s exactly what happens. You travel with your companions, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion along the yellow cobblestone path to the Wizard of OZ, where you’ll experience all sorts of tricky tasks until you might end up back home.
If you know the story about Dorothy, you can’t be spoiled by this adventure. However, knowing the story is not a requirement. But knowing it can help you a bit with one or the other puzzle. And you already need a little support, because the level of difficulty increases very much. Instead of the usual 60 minutes you’ll get 90 minutes for your journey through OZ.
And even if the adventure of the theme would be absolutely suitable for exploring the world of OZ with the children, the riddles are simply too difficult. Which is a bit of a shame, because the trip is really well-designed and you will also get to know the fairytale of Dorothy and her friends.
So it’s good to see that the focus of this adventure is entirely on the cards and that the app works very much in the background. Once you have completed this adventure, you’ll see that the Space Cowboys now have a good feeling for when and how to use the app to get the most out of the game. And of course this also includes that OZ runs a suitable background music. This is where I as a player start dreaming again. Wouldn’t it be great if different moods were conveyed by the music, depending on which part of the adventure you are in?
What is very well solved at OZ is the fact that right from the start you are told what you need for this adventure. You need the map and the mirror and you should have them ready. This makes my criticism of the second adventure even more astonishing if they do the preparation right at OZ, why not at Tombstone Express.
And so they lived happily…
or not, because that’s exactly what you have in your hands. Because here again something new is being introduced. Depending on how you feel like or have time in the end, you can still fulfill an optional goal. A nice idea, where we didn’t even have to ask ourselves if we choose this option or not. Of course we had to fulfill the goal.
After Dorothy and Toto were back in Kansas, we naturally had to ask ourselves the question. Were we happy? The answer is yes, whereby I announced a not quite so convinced yes, in absolute contrast to my wife. For me personally, the app support was a tick too little. I would have wished for one or the other machine.
What we liked in any case was the level of difficulty. It was demanding but solvable. The clues worked when we were stuck and all the riddles were solvable. Sounds positive at first, but two riddles are understandable, but not very well done.
For one riddle, you need a little more abstract imagination to recognize what it is supposed to represent. And the other riddle, you have to think outside the box. And again, I can imagine that some of them find it difficult.
Where are the secrets?
Unlock! Secrect Adventures has technically something to do with secret adventures. But no matter how I turn it around, I can’t find any real secret adventure in the third part. I expected something with secret agents or secrets that need to be protected or revealed or that you have to act in secret. Here I find, there can be confusion. If you are looking for something mysterious, you will find it at Unlock! Secret Adventures.
Every adventure has always played differently. Was it the strange riddles of Noside or the action which expected us in the Tombstone Express. It’s amazing that the authors always come up with new aspects of how to tell a story.
More adventures like Tombstone Express please
Personally, I liked the Tombstone Express best. I found the adventure incredibly refreshing, because it simply broke with the classic mechanism in some parts. The adventurers from OZ come in second place. Here, it was mainly the thematic and graphic implementation that really made it feel like you were traveling through OZ.
Maybe that’s also a reason why you have more time available here. So you can also pause and let your eyes wander. Well, that leaves only third place for the Noside Story. Here it was really the puzzles and combinations that were too wacky for me and I say that as a child of the Point and Click Adventure.
And while other escape games are standing still for me (especially in the area of thematic implementation they have their weaknesses), I can hardly wait until this year Unlock! Exotic Adventures comes onto the market. Then dinosaurs, Arabian nights and the black man will be waiting for us.