Unlock! – The Night of the Boogeymen

In Unlock!, each room has numbers and letters that match cards in the deck that comes with the box. Players then find the matching cards from the deck and reveal it to proceed further into the story and the puzzles. You are only given an hour, so teamwork and organization is key. This game allows you to combine objects, use the app to interact with “machines” and decipher codes. Unfortunately, this game issues penalties so be careful about your hunches! Not all objects are visible so players must carefully look at cards to find hidden numbers or letters.

Unite your forces to help protect William from the Boogeymen and soothe him back to sleep!

The Good

Unique Solutions (+4)

You’ll expect the outcome of some solutions and others you’ll be dumbfound by success. You are the inexperienced protagonist stumbling through the options in front of you. Both of these create a cinematic experience. While frustrating, I found that solutions were reasonable and not repetitive. The other thing is you make leaps in judgement but when something works you scratch your head and say “Okay well… yeah I expected that to work but how did it work… oh well, time’s a wasting!”

Childlike Art (+4)

The deck of cards and immersive objects contain childlike art. It’s almost as if you had a little brother named William who decided to create a puzzle game. Art is also comic-like in nature which gives it an adventurous feeling. It encourages you to emotionally invest in protecting William and diving into his world of monsters.

Crafting! (+6)

This installment has a tactile experience, compared to other Unlock! games. Not everything is interesting when driven by apps! Like I’ve mentioned in the past, I find it important to try and mimic the tactile experience of the escape room. Mind you: you are typically not required to make anything in “real life” escape rooms but it is cool to make something at home! Especially considering there are no actual monster models or actors around.

Lore and Tech (+6)

The title has boogeymen. The game has boogeymen. Boogeymen have weaknesses, and you will find them and use them to help save William! When you’re moving puzzle to puzzle in real life, it feels like a checklist of accomplishments. In contrast, it’s so much more than an escape room in this sense. Every new boogeyman you encounter in this game evokes the questions of: 1) is this possibly the end of the line? and 2) how do I defeat this? Your imagination runs wild in the room with these items and you start experimenting in leaps and bounds until something works.

The Bad

Gross red herrings (-1)

Actual solutions in the deck house some red herrings, which angers me greatly. I can understand it can be fun to include clever red herrings that can look like it’s part of a solution to something. But deliberately creating a doppelganger is completely unfair and just wastes time.

Unclear Solutions to Unique Puzzles (-2)

Some puzzles you’ll look at, know what to do, solve it and then wonder what would have happened if you went in a different order. In this sense, you accidentally brute force something. Anyone asking you to explain exactly why you reached the conclusions you did would leave empty handed. Some puzzles you’ll read the riddle, execute in a way that you think is correct, be wrong and enraged. “Why would this not work?!” Very frustrating.

Emotional Investment (-0.5)

There is fear, there is darkness, there is fighting. Honestly, I was so heavily invested that whenever we revealed a new card I was so anxious. Even the flavor text tells you exactly what you should feel and see, and if you are good at letting a story lead you, you’ll be lead to scary places.

Leaps of Faith and Brute Force (-2)

You’ll consider different permutations of answers because some graphics are imprecise. Of course, the game docks you time for this and it’s unfair because once you do it the “right way” you wonder why they couldn’t have just used your way instead. Positioning and interpretation of the world’s spatial environment is incredibly subjective. It just makes up its own rules for every puzzle!

Inconsistency (-2)

Leads to logical conclusions are not as straightforward when you encounter them again. You try something that worked before and then BAM, actually it wanted you to do something a little more far-fetched.

The Ugly

Is that a number? (-2)

Your eye can be tricked a few times in this installment as some curly cues or other details can look like numbers. I still wonder if I even really saw what I saw.

Color Blending (-2)

There are puzzles in here that require you to find things — yes, more than just silly hidden numbers — and I can imagine that not everyone is gifted at discerning different hues or shades of similar colors. You can of course brute force these puzzles but what’s the point? There’s nothing clever about that at all.

Flavor Text and Doodles are Irrelevant (-1.5)

I get that this is themed out of a child’s environment but is it absolutely necessary to include doodles that look like they may possibly be relevant? At least make them blatantly for flavor… geez.

Child’s Bedroom (-1.5)

There are certain items in the bedroom that should really not be locked but are. This is particularly annoying and seemed like a stretch and just outright laziness. I’ve been in my share of escape rooms where something had a lock or a password and wondering “Who in their right mind would need to lock this in this fashion”. You just have to roll with it.

Difficulty: 2/5 for Advanced
Satisfaction Grade: C (75.3%) for Good
Worth Your Money? Maybe