Location: at home
Date Played: June 8, 2018
Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-3
Duration: 60 minutes
A Noside Story was funny, playful, and chaotic. In this installment of Unlock!, anything could happen. This made the story interesting, but the gameplay confounding. While anything seemed plausible, each puzzle ultimately resolved to a specific, if outlandish, solution. There was a lot to love in this game, but it was entirely too frustrating.
If you love Unlock!, give it a shot. Everyone else can comfortably take a pass on this episode.
Who is this for?
- Story seekers
- Tabletop gamers
- Players with at least some experience with the Unlock! series
- Detailed and amusing card art
- A silly and creative story
- A handful of good puzzles
A Noside Story was a direct sequel to one of the first Unlock! games, the superhero story Squeek & Sausage. A smoke had covered the town, emanating from notorious Noside’s lair. It was up to us to once again put a stop to this villainous clown’s evil plans.
A Noside Story was functionally identical to the first batch of Unlock! games. For a detailed breakdown of the series’ core mechanics, give my review of the original three games a read through:
Unlock!’s A Noside Story was an at-home escape room with a high level of difficulty. Much of the difficulty stemmed from the silliness of the story and in-game interactions. Added challenge came from managing the Unlock! game mechanics.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, puzzling, and card management.
+ Unlock! consistently nails illustration. Each game has a distinctive and beautiful look. A Noside Story was no exception.
+ I respect the fantastical elements of A Noside Story. Paper-based tabletop games don’t need to be constrained by physical reality. I appreciate seeing a game explore that idea.
+/- A Noside Story was funny and playful. It made us do unusual and silly things. While this was entertaining, the silliness produced a lot of logic leaps and scenarios where any solution seemed plausible.
– The hidden penalty cards punished us for being incorrect. This seemed particularly unfair in a game where many correct solutions seemed just as possible as the incorrect ones we’d guessed.
+ There were a handful of great puzzles. One puzzle mixed card play with the app to produce something especially sweet.
– A Noside Story was rated a 1 of 3 in difficulty. I’m struggling to tell why it was less difficult than Adventures in Oz. It followed a more typical Unlock! structure, but the logic of this installment was far more challenging.
– One of the hallmarks of the Unlock! series has been the fact that players do not destroy anything in the process of play. In A Noside Story, however, we had to destroy one of the cards to solve a puzzle. It would be possible to solve this puzzle non-destructively, but that wasn’t the intent. Destructable elements can be a lot of fun, but this interaction was a boring and unnecessary deviation from what we’ve come to expect from Unlock!
– The hidden numbers in Unlock! continue to be the bane of this entire play system. It was even worse in A Noside Story because there was a number on a card that was part of a puzzle… but corresponded to another card in the deck. We were not supposed to take the card.
Tips for Playing
- While the Unlock! series is generally replayable, this particular episode had a destructible component.
- 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 A Noside Story, 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.)