A Noside Story is the first game in Unlock!’s third box, Secret Adventures. We’ve played all the games in the first two boxes, Escape Adventures and Mystery Adventures, and my thoughts on those individual games are already live for those who want to check them out. For anyone that is new here, the Unlock! series is predominately card based with the use of its companion app for code input and hints amount other things.
A thick smoke lingers over the region. Another dirty trick of Noside? Stop him before it’s too late.
If you are playing the games in order then you’ve already come across the Professor Noside in Squeek & Sausage. Well he’s up to no good again, spewing thick smoke everywhere for what seems like the sheer hell of it. You’ve been called into action to sneak into his lair and stop him. I really enjoy evil professor storylines, they can create a great theme for a franchise of games and offer flexibility in the story line, while creating a story thread throughout multiple games (shoutout to ClueQuest in London who do a great job with the Evil Professor theme!) The artwork in the Unlock! series is excellent and the style of the artwork really plays to the theme of their games, this is definitely the case with the cartoon and whimsical style of artwork in A Noside Story. I enjoy the elements of the game which are clearly just silly and there to produce a good laugh.
The games has a fair number of puzzles to solve and lots of areas, which is something I enjoy about the Unlock! games, the areas are generally sequential, but you may pick something up from previous areas and have to hold onto them for a while before you can use them. There were a few points where we were struggling to find what we needed to move forward, and going back to previous areas held the key to working out what we needed to do next. Unusually for Unlock! they ask you to destroy a card to solve a puzzle, though you can easily solve the puzzle without destroying the card if you want to lend the game around, which is what we elected to do. Some of the puzzles have a certain kind of (questionable?) logic behind them, especially on some of the item combinations, if you’ve played the game, you’ll know what I mean, if you haven’t played the game be prepared to (cautiously) think outside the box. We managed to tread the right side fo the crazy logic for the most part, there was one point where we picked up a penalty which (in a similar vein to one we picked up playing The Nautilus’ Trap) really felt like a cheap shot! We did pick up another penalty card for an incorrect combination, but I can’t quite remember how logical or not that was.
There are some points progressing through the game where I was thinking, how one earth is this going to help up stop Noside?! Some of the ways in how this storyline progresses are quite un-probable. There were other points where the ‘obvious’ solution was a red herring, thankfully we weren’t penalised for falling for this as we tried inputting an incorrect code, however see above about a cheap shot penalty we picked up. There is an unevenness about the difficulty intros game, many elements are very straight forward, and then some elements which are noticeably more difficult and cause some sticking points. We took some hints to get us through some of these tricky spots. Unlock! rate A Noside Story as a 1/3 difficulty, I wouldn’t have said this was in general much easier than any of their 2/3 rated games. This is a solid game in the Unlock! series, however it wouldn’t be the game I would start with, I can see as a first game players would rack up a lot of penalties with the card combinations. We’ve played a few of these games recently so are starting to get the hang of what combinations are likely within each games version of logical.
We escaped in 51:00 minutes with 8 minutes worth of penalties (2 penalty cards and an incorrect use of a machine), taking 3 hints along the way. The app scored us at a (very consistent) 4/5 stars, I’m assuming you only score 5/5 stars by escaping without any penalties or hints. I don’t think you’d want more than about 3 players to play this game, and as alluded to above, if you haven’t played an Unlock! game then I’d recommend you starting with their first box escape adventures first, before giving this game a go.
Overall I’m giving A Noside Story 3/5 it’s a very respectable game. I can see it infuriating some groups, but I think it worked quite well for us and we enjoyed playing.