FTW Staff Picks - Unlock!

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 


Genre: Puzzle

Designer: Multiple Designers

Player Size: 2 to 6 Players

Game Length: 60 minutes

For fans of: EXIT!, T.I.M.E. Stories, Sherlock Holmes

The idea behind a disposable game has become rather popular in recent years. It feels like gamers are willing to pay for a one-time experience as long as it's memorable and affordable. With T.I.M.E. Stories I always felt that there wasn't much value with its expansions considering the price tag. But with smaller games like EXIT! and Unlock! it's more reasonable to feel satisfied with the experience. Our favourite of the lot is definitely the Unlock! series, and while some of them are better than others, the overall consensus among us is that they are all well-designed. 


In Unlock!, players work together to reach the end of the narrative by combining clues at various locations. The game plays alongside a companion app, which times the players, gives hints and is used to interact with some clues. Players start off in a location and explore the various clues (written as numbers). All cards are numbered and are revealed as they are discovered. Red cards are combined with blue cards, by totalling the sum of both cards, to unlock new clues. In the case of a wrong guess, the revealed card will add a time penalty. Once the players complete the game, they will be given a grade based off of their performance against the clock.

You're often solving multiple puzzles at once in Unlock! But it's a good idea to keep rotating the cards and putting fresh eyes on each clue. Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective to find a solution. The companion app is there to give clues along the way if needed. It will come at a cost of your final score, but they're very important in making the game feel surmountable.  


Anyone who has ever been to an escape room will know that the experience relies heavily on the puzzle design. With Unlock! each adventure is designed by a different person keeping the experiences unique and fresh. It's a tricky line to tow, because the puzzles need to be hard but satisfactorily so. Sometimes the solutions can feel cheap or impossible. It luckily doesn't get to that point with Unlock! It's a very well-rounded experience and we've always felt good about it once we reach the end. It's the perfect game to play at a board game cafe, and we've got a bunch of them in our library. Come check it out!

Earl OliverosComment