A few years back, I got a gig for Space Cowboys demoing a new game called T.I.M.E. Stories. I remember learning it for the first time and being fully blown away by how revolutionary a title it was. I got sucked into the adventure of the first story, Asylum, and then proceeded to teach it to others for the rest of the week. I found as much pleasure out of running other people through the scenario, seeing the decisions they made, and the red herrings they’d follow, as I did playing the game myself.
I taught the game a few more times over the course of the year at different conventions, and while people seemed to really enjoy the experience, I was surprised how much resistance there seemed to be for a game that you played through once and then you were done with. The idea of a one-time use game was still pretty new. Risk and Pandemic Legacies had come out to resounding acclaim, but was there a market place for these types of games long term?
Flash forward to today, and the answer is a clear yes. T.I.M.E. Stories has continued to produce more and more adventures and Legacy or single use style games have continued to flourish.
One of the interesting developments from Space Cowboys has been their fine-tuning a cost-effective single use game. The Unlock series captures a lot of the same puzzle solving and narrative of T.I.M.E. Stories, but with a lot less production and financial commitment to the consumer. The Latest collection in the Unlock series are the Exotic Adventures, including Night of the Boogymen, Scheherazade’s Last Tale, and Expedition: Challenger. Each one takes you on a different immersive experience as you try and interpret the clues you’re presented with and solve the puzzles, all with a ticking clock for some added pressure.
The Exotic Adventures take advantage of the same system that previous Unlock games have used. A combination of a numbered deck of cards as well as an easy to use app, provide everything needed for the game. Blue and Red Object cards must be combined to make them a new number. Yellow Code cards require a four-digit code. Finally, Green Machine cards require you to solve some sort of puzzle in the app itself. The system is really easy to use, but there is a helpful mini-tutorial included in each box to familiarize you to it if you’re playing for the first time.
I don’t want to go into too much detail on any of these new titles. The fun is discovering them on your own, but here is a brief rundown of each of the Exotic Adventures.
In Night of the Boogymen, little William is being haunted by different creepy ghouls, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You have to pick off the Boogymen one at a time, before a final showdown with the ultimate nightmare. While this entry is marked as the easiest of the Exotic Adventures, there were some interesting puzzles to solve and I could definitely see people getting snagged on a few of the different challenges.
In Scheherazade’s Last Tale, the famous storyteller is being held captive, and only an exciting tale will set her free. There is only one problem, she’s run out of stories. This one is an Arabian Nights style adventure with some fun twists and turns.
Expedition: Challenger is the toughest rated of these three new boxes. I think that rating is well deserved. You must travel to a dinosaur-filled valley to save the members of an ill-fated expedition. This entry takes the best advantage of the app, requiring you to go back to it again and again, and in ways that are both inventive and unexpected. You’re going to want to take a good look at the handy Survival Guide included in the box as you set out on this campaign.
I really enjoyed each one of these different Unlock games. They were all unique in their own rights, and even at the easiest levels, you’ll find some cool challenges. At less than $20 a pop, they are a really good bargain. If psychologically you have a tough time with single-use games, think of it this way: if you split the cost with 2-3 friends, it’s less than the cost of going to the movies. Heck, if you pay for it yourself, it’s less. Games like this are an experience that deserves to be had. If you haven’t played any of the Unlock series, the Exotic Adventures are a great place to start!
Unlock games are cooperative adventures for 1 to 6 players. Each game takes about an hour to complete. Review copies of Unlock: Exotic Adventures were provided by Space Cowboys for this article.