(Part III of III)
It’s been raining for hours and your phone battery is now flat. This day doesn’t look too good unless… Hey! you know a way to kill boredom: you just have to climb up the ladder to the attic where your grandpa’s dusty old arcade machine is stored. Beat all the levels in this virtual adventure. Escape or it is Game Over!
Adorable Pixel Art (+5)
As the title of this installment suggests, this is definitely an arcade game experience and what better way to continue with this aesthetic than pixel art! Mind you this isn’t the most elaborate pixel art on the planet but they do make it cute and endearing to please the eye — which I appreciate.
Video Game Callbacks (+5)
There are very clear choices in mechanics that call back to video games that most of us all know and quite possibly love. Even concepts like cheating — yes, you know back in the day you looked up weird cheats! — are introduced in this game.
Augmented Reality! (+5)
Suddenly everyone wants to use phones with game components, and this one does it in such a surprising way I was floored! The game introduces this new concept to you through introductory puzzles in a seamless way, then brings it back in every now and then as you progress.
Use of the Unlock! App (+5)
I’ve seen some really lame uses of machines in the app. The way that they do it in this game, though, is engaging and helps enforce the theme. It provides you with satisfaction for puzzle solutions and does justify doing these puzzles with friends.
Suspense, Shock and Excitement (+5)
The game experience, the game’s effect on my friend, and my friend’s effect on me induced a sense of adventure; all the sensations when playing video games.
Injuries Are Unclear (-3)
You can sustain injuries in this game! It sucks! I didn’t even know that could happen, and even more so I didn’t know we would be penalized time for it. That realization was annoying. Yes, I get that in the video game world you can lose lives and you can experience that ‘Game Over’ screen. But, when you’re expecting to be in a puzzle you don’t have a concept of mortality. I don’t know about you, but the escape rooms I’ve done have never had my life on the line!
Poor Use of Gray Cards (-2)
Gray cards are typically pieces of information that can help guide the story immersion, provide context, and other things. They shouldn’t be used to combine with other cards, they shouldn’t be used to do anything else. That’s all I’m going to say here.
No Forewarning about Card Configuration Mechanics (-2)
I scoured the rulebook one more time after I played this and still couldn’t find anything about some of the card interactions I had to perform. Once you’ve played enough Unlock! games, you’re used to trying to find specific combinations, knowing what cards interact and what shouldn’t. There wasn’t the same level of handholding as the AR received.
Leaps of Faith (-0.5)
I did take leaps of faith with a friend and was punished for the most part, or stalled in progress. Admittedly it did take a few hints for us to get through this but we personally did not count them or acknowledge them as hints because we were angry at the poor quality.
Poor Use of Size Scaling (-0.5)
Some puzzles require you to pay attention to making connections between the environment but you’re thrown off by the relative scaling, so you end up doubting yourself.
No Workarounds for Real Time Aspects (-1)
There is a real time puzzle in this game and it requires a skill that I don’t really possess. I was incredibly lucky to have my friend with me who did possess this skill. What I mean by a workaround is simply related to the mechanics of what is expected of you to perform the solution for the puzzle. It has a major accessibility hurdle that I wasn’t able to identify a workaround for.
Making Up Rules and Interpretations (-1)
Normally Unlock! is very clear about what the winning conditions will feel like but there is a section of this game where you’re absolutely confused about what to do next. There are no hints for it, and no path forward unless you just get it. I also haven’t seen Unlock! puzzles that require you to make connections between cards that don’t interact directly in any way. There are cards in this installment whose only purpose is to be a reference for another puzzle. How? Why?
Augmented Reality? (0)
The AR interactions between the cards and the app on your phone is a little finicky. If you hold it just right and don’t move, it’ll display properly. If you don’t, maybe you’ll see it but your team won’t, or vice versa. Too close or too far and it won’t display at all — even improperly. This was management and just took a bit of finesse over time so I didn’t deduct any points but… ick.