Room-in-a-box, Mar 2021
In Unlock box sets the third game is normally the hardest; while it’s not always the best of the three it often is, and I’d say Mission #07 is the strongest of the Epic Adventures set. The deck of cards for this game is split into two halves with different colour backs, and you play one half then the other, making this more or less two smaller games linked by story and theme. You also have a longer 90 minute time limit, in which to finish both halves.
The two halves are rather different in style. In the first half, your team of secret agents is trying to identify which of a set of suspects is a traitorous double agent. Naturally, you approach this by finding evidence to rule out each of the other suspects until you’re left with only one. The exploration style used here means a great many cards in play at once, with the feel of a classic physical escape room – breaking into drawers and lockers to find locks and codes. And of course you need to work out how to interpret some items as reasons to rule out a suspect. I’m rarely a fan of ‘Guess Who’ suspect elimination puzzles, but it’s done well here.
In the second half, having identified your suspect you’re racing to foil their dastardly plans, and it switches to a more linear action-based feel. Linking both parts are a set of four character cards – you have a team of agents each with a particular set of skills, and quite a few of the puzzles involve applying the right agent to the right items in the right way. (In theory you divide up the characters between the players, but unless you’re playing with four people I’m not sure that adds much over just sharing them.) One of the agents is a gadget specialist, which provides the excuse for Unlock to use their augmented reality technology again, using the phone app as a pair of ‘X-ray glasses’. This does mean that you’ll probably find yourself having to scan each and every card just in case it has hidden details, but it’s still clever tech used well and it fits very nicely with the secret agent theme.
I found Mission #07 imaginative, entertaining and decently challenging. It uses Unlock’s taste for technological gimmicks in a way that fits the story and enhances the game without ever feeling unfair; and it’s a longer and more substantial game than most. Which is to say – this isn’t my all time favourite of the Unlock games, but it’s certainly one of their stronger ones and is well worth getting hold of.