There’s no place like home.
Location: at home
Date Played: May 26, 2018
Team size: 1-6; we recommend 3-4
Duration: 90 minutes*
Price: $14.99 per ticket
Space Cowboys really outdid themselves in The Adventures of Oz, one of the Unlock! series’ latest installments. As implied by the name, this episode took us on the adventures of Dorothy and Toto. It told the story and presented puzzles.
The Adventures of Oz was easily our favorite game in the Unlock! lineup thus far.
This, however, should not be your first Unlock! game. Newbies should learn the ropes in a less complex chapter.
Who is this for?
- Story seekers
- Tabletop gamers
- Puzzle lovers
- Players with at least some experience with the Unlock! series
- Fantastic storytelling through gameplay
- Beautiful card art
- Fun puzzles inspired by and integrated with the story
We weren’t in Kansas anymore. The Adventures of Oz followed the familiar story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; we puzzled our way down the Yellow Brick Road.
Unlock! used the original L. Frank Baum tale as the inspiration for this game, as the original is in the public domain… so expect silver slippers.
Functionally, the core game mechanics of The Adventures of Oz were identical to the previous Unlock! games that we’ve reviewed. If you want a more thorough description, check out our review of the first three games:
That being said, The Adventures of Oz added a few twists.
There were four character cards in The Adventures of Oz, each with its own quest or side-quest.
These were persistent cards that lasted all – or most – of the game and should be assigned to different players. (Double- or triple-up character cards if you have fewer players).
Upon opening the box, we immediately noticed a folded map of Oz. There came a point early in gameplay when we were instructed to unfold it.
There was a thick cardboard magic mirror with 4 bits of cardboard that need to be poked out. As with the map and character cards, the game instructed us when to reach for the mirror.
The Adventures of Oz put a heavy focus on narrative gameplay. It told a story rather than recreated the feel of a traditional escape room.
Unlock!’s The Adventures of Oz was an at-home escape room with a high level of difficulty. The puzzle difficulty varied. Added challenge stemmed from managing the Unlock! game mechanics.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, puzzling, and card management.
+ The Adventures of Oz told a well-known story legitimately well.
+ The card art was beautiful. I found myself looking at cards not as a puzzler, but simply for enjoyment.
+ The character cards were a great addition. They had a variety of functions that added new dynamics to Unlock!’s gameplay.
+ The Magic Mirror was an inspired and versatile prop.
– One puzzle had us wandering through the woods to a dubious solution.
+ There were a few puzzles that put an emphasis on teamwork. These were among the highlights for us.
-/+ *While the game box noted that The Adventures of Oz would be a 60-minute game, the timer on the app was for 90 minutes. 90 minutes was a more realistic playtime, which was great since there was a lot of game… but this typo set incorrect expectations. 30 minutes can be a big deal when planning a game night.
? The Adventures of Oz would have been brutally challenging to play without having at least one player at the table who was already comfortable with the idiosyncrasies of the Unlock! series.
– Pixel hunting for hidden numbers is an Unlock! standard… and it had a significant presence in The Adventures of Oz.
– It was challenging to keep track of discarded cards. In The Adventures of Oz, the discard icons were smaller than in Unlock!’s previous games (and they weren’t large to begin with), so this was even more challenging. This visual deprioritization made a bad problem worse.
– I absolutely hate that the Unlock! hint system offered no explanation of the solutions. Space Cowboys, could y’all see fit to issue an update to your app that fixes this?
+ All in all, this was hands down our favorite Unlock! game and one of our favorite tabletop escape games in general.
Tips for Playing
- Inspect everything for hidden numbers.
- Be sure to keep a close eye on which cards are in play and which cards should be discarded. A single lapse in this can wreak some havoc.
Pickup a copy of Unlock!’s The Adventures of Oz, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Full disclosure: Asmodee sent us a complementary reviewer’s copy of this game.
(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.)