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Card Game: Unlock! The Nautilus' Traps by Asmodee


After the enjoyable Unlock! Squeek & Sausage from Asmodee, we wanted to try something more thematic and decided to go with the moderately difficult Unlock! The Nautilus' Traps. This scenario is set underwater, with your submarine under attack by a tentacled sea monster. You have to make your way through the depths and escape to the surface… before your oxygen runs out.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Unlock! series is a cooperative card game inspired by escape rooms that use a simple system which allows you to search scenes, combine objects, and solve puzzles. Yup, all with a deck of cards! Unlock! utilize only cards and a companion app that provides clues, check codes, monitor time remaining, etc.


SETUP

The card backs feature (at first glance) random numbers and the face cards are color-coded: yellow cards have four-digit unlock code, grey cards are informational, blue and red cards combine to open/discover new things. The basic idea is, you pair the blue card and red card, add their numbers together and reveal that card if it’s in the deck (hence the number on the card backs).


I would recommend a calculator handy to help with the addition if you are playing with kids. Also, the deck order out of the box is random. Considering you have 60 minutes on the clock, I would re-order the cards sequentially (numerical and alphabetical) to save on time when looking for cards as you discover new clues.

GAMEPLAY

The scenario starts off with a bang! Instead of the expected 60 minutes, you begin with a much smaller amount of time ticking away. This is probably the most innovative idea of the game and we were completely caught off guard. This definitely upped the urgency on the get-go and brilliantly sets the scene of the impending peril.


The game mechanics are relatively simple- on each room, you search for clues, hidden objects, and information. Pair them up by combining the blue and red cards and reveal the next card for more clues/information and progressively moving on to the next room.


After finding clues and hidden oxygen canisters to add time to the clock, you get the feeling that the designers are doing something different for this scenario. The puzzles are really creative with some really clever ideas and Unlike Squeek & Sausage, there is a noticeably fewer object to pair with- which isn't a bad thing as each incorrect combination results in time (2 to 3 minutes) penalties


Like Escape rooms in the real world, there are some machines that you need to manipulate using the app. The ones in this scenario are reasonably difficult due to the nautical language used. If you get stuck, you can call for hints to keep you moving. As each card is associated with a number, type that number into the app to get help with the card. The hint system is very well done. It has 3 levels of reveal without giving too much away initially.

Once you get to a yellow card and obtain the hidden 4-digit code, you type the code in the app to progress (or not) to the next room.


OVERALL

The Nautilus' Traps is an interesting one. Beautifully illustrated cards with an evocative theme and some really creative puzzle. However, we found that the puzzles are inconsistent and felt at loss several times as we aren't sure what or where to focus on as new scenes kept opening up. This left us a little overwhelmed with all the different clues and information scattered around. We managed to complete the game 3 minutes over the given time limit. For us, it is definitely worth playing and we are looking forward to our next adventure.

Card Game: Unlock! The Nautilus' Traps by Asmodee Reviewed by Ivan Choe on 2/19/2019 Rating: 5

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