Unlock! Heroic Adventures: In Pursuit of the White Rabbit

(Part I of III)

This is the unfinished manuscript of an astonishing adventure I have in mind. It is entitled ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Please, help me write an end to it… and help Alice out of the mess I so maliciously got her into… Hurry, Alice is running out of time!

The Good

New Search Constructs! (+5)

For those who have been following the Unlock! series for a while you start getting a feel for just looking for numbers on the backs of these cards. Well, welcome to Puzzle Gurus in Graphics Wonderland because you now search for more than just numbers. There are graphics, contextual leads and other fun artsy things to look for based on the solution to the puzzle. Absolutely refreshing and uses a different part of your brain than reverse engineering numbers. Hooray!

Lore Galore (+4)

It’s refreshing when you encounter a game that makes good use of meta-knowledge. To be clear it’s much easier to just create your own world in the escape but when you can tastefully pull off using a beloved story, it can become more of an investment and moment of excitement.

Giggle-Worthy Solutions (+5)

Some of the solutions in this installment made me giggle because the experience was:
“Okay. I need to do this. What do I have…”
Pause for contemplation.
“Wait. Would this work? I mean it’s a stretch but –“
Thing works.

For puzzle snobs like me, you begin to recognize patterns for what a game wants you to do to take the next steps forward. This game, while you still end up in the same epiphany, the actual execution, surprise, and result of it is absolutely delightful. In this instance, you begin to look forward to the upcoming puzzles because you wonder what odd things await you.

Cute Use of the App (+4)

In addition to the lore, the app does have elements of audio and augmented reality that make it even more immersive and surprising. As much as I would like puzzle solutions to be expected, using an app to improve the immersion factor in ways that you aren’t expecting keeps you engaged and excited the whole time. In which case, while I normally dislike major leaps of faith, being able to interpret your experience in a fantastical way is great.

Whimsical Art (+5)

The one thing I have appreciated so far in the series is the art is appropriate for the theme of the escape. The illustrations in this installment are reminiscent of reading a storybook and keeps you in the world of this beloved story. Even the way that the objects have texture look like they were printed on paperback.

The Bad

Dexterity Puzzle (-5)

I won’t tell you when this comes into play, but it does and it angers me greatly. It was so difficult to understand that I had to go online and see if anyone had any idea of how to approach it. The hint system for Unlock! failed me greatly here because even though I was aware of how the puzzle worked, once I made it work I couldn’t keep it working long enough to find the answer. What the game requires you to do gives away a lot to anyone you will pass it along to, which is a major downside.

Worst Perspective Puzzle Ever (-5)

Along these same lines, I had to find interpretations from other players to figure this out. I typically try and do these puzzles on my own, and not even my friend could help me see what I needed to see. In fact, usually I see something but in this perspective puzzle I saw literally nothing. Once I found some hints online I remember just being so angry the rest of the day because I thought “That’s what it was?! B.S.”

Leaps of Faith (-0.5)

Yet another thing you’ll keep seeing me complain about. Listen, puzzles are logical. They should be, at least. I don’t want to have to close my eyes, cross my fingers, and jump off a cliff only to lose time and energy failing hard. Another way to describe this: use the little information you have, make assumptions and hope that the game doesn’t penalize you.

Busy Work (-0.5)

Some puzzles require you to just sift through the cards and note pieces of information from them. It is not at all satisfying or clever in any way. It doesn’t make me feel like a genius, it just makes me feel like I did a test for an entry-level job. I don’t have much more to say on this than that…

The Ugly

New Search Constructs… (0)

Some combinations caught me by surprise, and forced me to use a hint. Normally when I use hints I become a little frustrated because I feel that I could have personally gotten there but just didn’t. However, in these new search constructs when I grab a hint it’s just frustration because I don’t know how I could have ever made that connection.

Poor Font and Shape Interpretations (-0.5)

I recognize the need to make something obvious enough to understand if you’re on the right track, but not obvious enough that you can brute force a puzzle. Yet even when interpreting some of these correctly I didn’t reach the same conclusion about the fonts and/or shapes I was connecting.

Spot the Difference Execution (-1)

Let’s be clear: I’m a perfectionist. I notice flaws easily and get excited when I find them, so Spot the Difference is really one of my favorite constructs. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I got the number of differences wrong. Not that I was identifying too few but I was identifying too many. How is that even a thing?! It penalized me a bunch of times for this and it bothered me so much.

Relative Sizing (-1)

I get it, Alice in the story keeps warping her size but this doesn’t help with puzzle interpretations, y’all. I don’t know what else to say other than: sigh.

Difficulty: 4/5 for Genius
Satisfaction Grade: C+ (79.3%) for Good

note: a review copy was provided by the publisher.