Room-in-a-box, Aug 2019
As a matter of policy, Unlock! box sets seem to each contain one game that’s more tailored for younger players, in both theming and difficulty level; in the Heroic set, that game is Insert Coin.
It’s themed for retro 80s arcade gaming, and that’s reflected in the pixelated artwork, the bloopy soundtrack, and the style of puzzle. Unlock! games have moved quite far from from being a card system to being a hybrid card-digital system. Appropriately for the theme, Insert Coin doubles down on the app-based elements, with one obvious gimmick in particular.
I’m always impressed by the degree of inventiveness that Unlock! bring to their game design. This one again subverts the standard system in a variety of ways, and does so mostly successfully – though one puzzle struck me as much too tenuous a leap, especially since this is supposed to be their easiest difficulty level. But that aside, I found it a fun romp through a range of nostalgic arcade references which found clever ways to turn old game concepts into puzzles.
I also liked the progression through different ‘levels’ , a great way to convey a sense of progress – except that curiously they’ve made it not entirely linear in a way that’s thoroughly confusing.
If you’re annoyed by Unlock!’s system of searching through an unordered deck to find specific cards, be warned that it felt like there was a lot of that to do in the earlier parts of this game.
The ending is somewhere between funny and anti-climactic. Like many other aspects of this game, I suspect that’ll charm some players and leave others cold. It has some flaws, and if you’re not drawn to the theme you should perhaps give it a miss; but otherwise it’s an entertaining and solid addition to the series.