Unlock! 4: Exotic Adventures

It seems so long ago that we tried an Unlock! Escape room in a box that we thought it was about time we tried another one (or three). Last time we played “Unlock!: The Island of Doctor Goorse” as a group of six. Now, due to lock down, we were playing as a group of two instead.

We decided to try the Exotic Adventures, which turned out to be the fourth installment in the Unlock! Series.

The box features three games of varying difficulty, so you start with the easy game, move on to the medium one and finish with the hard one. All of them are co-operative escape room style games, played with a deck of cards and an internet app. You must have the app downloaded on your phone to play the game. Each game is supposed to last around an hour, with a mix of simple and challenging puzzles. The contents of the games are not destroyed so all three decks/games are replayable.

Unlock 4! Exotic Adventures features these three mysteries:

Night of the Bogeymen
Scheherazade’s Last Tale
Expedition: Challenger

In addition, the box contains a tutorial game. This consists of 10 cards to get you accustomed to how the game works and the different types of cards. We remembered how the blue cards and red cards combined to solve clues. (For example a key may be a blue puzzle piece which can be combined with a red puzzle piece to open a cabinet). There were also green cards (Machines) and yellow cards (codes).

In the game, some cards also have hidden numbers on them that can be difficult to see. A magnifying glass may prove useful!

We whizzed through the tutorial and straight on to the first game.

Night of the Bogeymen

We began with the “easy” game – The Night of The Boogeymen. The artwork shows a child hiding under their bed covers. It was our mission was to save William from the monsters (Boogeymen) that haunted his nightmares.

The Plot

Little William has been having sleepless nights as of late. The poor boy has been attacked by monsters from nightmares: the boogeymen! Under the cloak of darkness, you open William’s door to seek out the monsters. Be careful as you fight with them; William is sleeping, and you can’t wake him up!

The first card pointed us to a book that explained that there were 4 types of Boogeymen that fill childrens dreams with nightmares. After introducing the 4 types we needed to find we were able to flip over the location card. The action takes place in the one room, but explores the different areas that each boogeyman inhabits.

The game contained plenty of challenges, plus a new feature called Constraints. These red text boxes revealed a constraint to game play that was unique to the boogeyman being sought. Only when you found the monster did the negative effects come into play. These didn’t add anything to the game, other than cause frustration and we recommend ignoring these cards.

Another new feature was the game was the time waster cards – A full card of text, that tells you you’ve wasted your time reading it at the end!

We found the game and puzzle solving enjoyable until card 72 when we hit a problem. The one hint available was unhelpful and with each wrong answer we were penalised by having minutes removed from the timer. We turned to Google for help and found others had been stumped at this point too. A number of forums had people complaining of frustration with this card, so it wasn’t just us that had problems. We did manage to get past this point and complete the game, but we had run over time – I blame the penalties and wasting time cards.

Having said that we did enjoy the game and were looking forward to playing the next one. Aside from a slightly folded piece of paper, the game was entirely replayable.

Scheherazade’s Last Tale

The Plot

Scheherazade is in grave danger! She only has one hour to tell one last story to the Sultan, but she’s out of ideas. The scribe she asked to help her come up with a story has gone missing, and she is begging you to find him and bring him back as soon as possible with a tale to please the Sultan. The princess’s life may end in the hands of the executioner, so act fast!

For this game we had to find the scribe and bring him back with a new tale.

A new feature for this game, that we didn’t notice until after we’d played it, was the option of having an auto-enabled automatic Hidden Object notification on the app. We didn’t use it, because we hadn’t spotted it, but I’m sure it would have been useful.

Again there were certain cards that caused us problems (for example, we were penalised 9 times on card 29) and other times we were penalised for taking logical actions! The constant penalisation became frustrating and spoilt the fun of the game.

Yes, we did manage to complete the game but we were not a excited as we should have been to move on to the final game in the collection.

Again the deck of cards is entirely replayable should you feel so inclined.

Expedition: Challenger

The Plot

A young woman knocks at the door of your PI agency. “My name is Gladys Ungerton. My friend, Ned Malone, has gone missing. You probably heard about him: he is one of the members of Prof. Challenger’s expedition! They recently returned from the Lost Valley full of strange creatures. I just received this notebook and this odd message. I don’t understand a word of any of it. Can you please go to the offices of Prof. Challenger? If you are true to your reputation, you will bring Ned back to me!”

It took us a long while to start this game. I suppose we were put off by the thought of loads of time penalties spoiling the fun. But eventually we tried Expedition: Challenger and the Dinosaur themed escape game.

For this one you get “Survival Guide” booklet with details of dinosaurs, a sketch of a lost valley and details of people on an expedition. There is also a helpful guide to morse code, the periodic table and a temperature gauge.

We logged on to the app and started the game. At a certain point there was a change in our location. Moving forward we hit a few snags and penalties and decided it may be better to start over. Unfortunately, we found we could not skip ahead through the solutions we’d already found. It appeared we were supposed to reach a certain point at a certain time and not before. (I may be wrong on that but we found it frustrating not being able to race through the first section and decided life was just too short to play it all again at “normal” pace). So we did not complete this game.

Other reviewers have noted that this adventure is the most app orientated Unlock! experience. For Expedition: Challenger the app is used 60% while the cards are used 40% to complete the game. They have also suggested the ending is anticlimactic. Having only played a small proportion of the game, we are unable to comment on this. However, neither of these points make us want to give it another go. For an escape room in a box, We’d like most of the play to involve the contents of the box. And to try to solve the “room”/game you want a good ending to look forward to.

As Meatloaf might say “2 out of 3 ain’t bad”

Available from Amazon

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