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Which Unlock! Game Should I Buy?

Unlock! Game

Unlock! Board Games, What Are They

In the last few years Escape rooms have popped up all around the world and they soon became a great way to have fun with your friends. They are also often used as team building activities as they are great to stimulate cooperation and interaction. Not surprisingly, a lot of publishers tried to emulate the same type of experience by developing escape room-themed board games.

Among them, my personal favourite are those of the Unlock! series. For those who do not know them, each Unlock! Adventure is completely card driven. The first card provides the players with the context and the first room of their adventure. In the scene depicted on the card players can see some elements to inspect with a number associated to them.

Each element is numbered so that players can take the corresponding cards revealing a story, a character, an objects, or a piece of a puzzle to be solved. A mobile app will provide players with a timer and will be used to simulate those cards that correspond to equipments. The app will also be used to enter the codes the players will find and to provide hints and penalties as needed.

The basics of the game are pretty simple to grasp and they are the same across all the series. This is quite important considering that Unlock! counts today at least 33 different adventures sold both as single or boxed in group of three. Considering the large amount of games available, someone may wonder where to start with this series and perhaps which one are the best games to buy?

How To Decide Which Unlock! I Should Buy First (Or Next)

Considering how many adventures are available, it is not easy to pick your first Unlock! or your next one, if you have played one or a few before. Personally, I do not recommend playing the game in order of release date as the difficulty of some of the earlier games is not always aligned with the one of the rest of the series.

My recommendation is to use the difficulty levels shown on the back of the box as a guide. Assuming you are going for the boxes with the three adventures, you will find that most of the recent ones has one game per each difficulty type from beginner to expert. This is very useful if you are getting your first one as can give you a good learning curve of the game mechanics. If you are already an expert, the easy ones could be played with your kids or perhaps with friends that want to try this type of games.

BEST First Unlock! Set: Timeless Adventures

Among all the Unlock! sets I played, Timeless adventures is definitely the one I would recommend the most for both new players and experience gamers. The box comes with three games, one per each level of difficulty.

The easiest game in the box game is “The Noside Show”. In this game, one of the most renown villain in the series has taken over a circus and your aim is to make sure the show goes on. In addition to the standard deck of cards, players also have a programme with space for various cards. The plot is a bit weird and the puzzles not always straightforward but it is quite fun and the use of the programme is very clever.

In the second game, “Arsene lupin and the Great White diamond”, players are a group of orphans racing to find a diamond which has been hidden. The treasure hunt has been commissioned by Arsene Lupin and whoever find the diamond first will work with him and would not have to worry about their future. The scenario has a twist as there are some false leads in the game that could cost you precious time.

The last and more complex adventure, “Lost in the Time Warp” will involve a time machine. Players will need it to travel back and forward in time to put the events back in order and allow one of your friend to return to the present. The challenge is definitely not easy but also very clever. To solve the puzzles you will need to understand how an event in the past can affect those in the future.

BEST Thematic Sets – Unlock! Star Wars Adventures & Unlock! Game Adventures

Obviously, a good balanced set may not be always an option for you, either because you have already played some of them or because you are looking for something different. In this case, I would recommend considering a thematic set.

If you have played some of the sets, you may have already seen that some of the singles adventures available are set in some famous worlds like, for example, Alice in wonderland or the Wizard of Oz. Unlock! Has also created a single set where all three games are set in the world of Star Wars. If you are a fan, the story behind the three adventures would result very pleasing and engaging. You could also play them even without knowing anything of the Star Wars universe and I could assure you, the adventures will still be a lot of fun.

One of the aspect I like the most about this set is that all three stories are not linked to any of the movies or series you may have watched. Initially I was a bit worried you would need to re-create some famous passages of the movies but this is not the case. The stories are rooted in the same universe and share some location with some of the movies but that's all. Moreover, you are not always working with “the good guys” as one of the adventures will see you playing a spy for the Galactic Empire. Duh duh duh DUN DA DUN, DUN DA DUN

If you like thematic sets, keep also an eye on the pre-order section of Zatu as Unlock! Game adventures is planned to be released in September 2022. This set will be the second fully thematic set including three adventures set in the worlds of three famous boardgames. An inception of boardgames would be something to try for sure....

BEST Series - Foiling Professor Noside's Evil Plans

As mentioned at the beginning, Escape rooms can be great for team building and for grouped activities. Unlock! could also be played in a small groups and, if you want, you can also use them in a themed event where different groups could play linked adventures.

If you are looking to linked adventures, the best ones are for sure those based on the great villain of the series, Professor Noside: “Squeek and sausage” (Escape adventures, difficulty 2), “A noside story” (Secret adventures, difficulty 1), “The Noside show” (Timeless adventuress, difficulty 1) and “Professor Noside's Animal-O-Matic” (Mythic adventures, difficulty 2).

The four adventures are not linked directly together of course but they give the feelings that the villain keeps coming back as the players foil his evil plans one after the other. Players can easily find themselves wondering “what would he think next?” and this can create a great engagement in the game. Playing Noside's adventures as a series could also be a great choice to play with a group of young players as the stories are a bit weird but also very funny. Spoiler alert: you would love the mouse in “Squeek and Sausage”.

Final Thoughts

Long story short: select the experience you would like to have and grab the game.