Here at Best Play we love an Escape the Room. Those real-world things where you and your mates have to solve a series of ever elaborate puzzles to get out of a room, it’s a bit like the Crystal Maze, or a really really pleasant version of Saw.
So we love that people are turning them into board games. We’ve played a bunch of them, but the 2 shining examples of the genre are Unlock and Exit. But which is better?
Let’s start with Unlock. We’ve done a whole gist on it and recommendation that you can find here. Unlock is just a deck of cards and an app – you don’t need anything else.
It evokes that feeling of being in an escape room. The timer is counting down, you’re frantically scouring the room for clues, looking at every detail. Furiously, you try combining the things you find until you have the eureka movement. Cue a cascade of solution after solution until you’re stumped again.
It’s a lot like those old Lucasarts adventure games.
Exit is similar in many ways; you’re still solving puzzles that result in looking for certain numbered cards in the deck. But the puzzles are much more abstract, much less about combining items in the room, or spotting something hidden under a table. More like a cryptic crossword.
What I love about Unlock is that sense of place, like you’re in the room and your adrenaline is running. Then when you’re done, you gift it to some other friends to enjoy.
The biggest issue with Unlock is that the puzzles themselves – whilst enjoyable – can at times be a little shallow. I escaped all the ‘rooms’ in around 40 minutes and was rarely stumped for long.
Exits puzzles by comparison are much more inventive and head scratching, with sessions being more like an hour or 2 to solve. The fact the game is one-time-only means you will be drawing and cutting up the game itself – which means you can’t regift it, but there is more potential for surprise.
Overall I love them both. Exit is much more challenging but is less evocative and exciting moment-to-moment. Unlock has that feeling of rushing around a room trying to make something work and has some inventive uses of the app but don’t expect more than a mild, but still enjoyable challenge.
We look forward to playing more of both of these as future adventures come out. Which is your favourite? Let us know what you think in the comments.