Unlock!: Arsène Lupin and the Great White Diamond

By | March 20, 2020

Room-in-a-box, Jan 2020

Rated between 3.5 and 4 out of 5
Toby says:

Arsène Lupin is another totem of French culture almost completely unknown to me, but who seems to be a mysterious but gallant master thief. In Unlock!’s game you are not the legendary criminal himself but a group of street urchins to whom Lupin has set a challenge – follow his trail of clues to find a diamond, and thereby prove yourselves as potential protégés.
Unlock! reliably have excellent artwork, but I particularly liked the
fin-de-siècle illustration style here. That complemented the game’s gentle style of adventure, combined with a certain set of tropes that to me were familiar from Tintin stories.
All three games in this box come with some kind of supplement to the main deck of cards, and in this case it’s a fold out map of Paris. That’s used as the backbone of the game, which takes you from one location to another with each new location providing a new card and set of associates clues. Since there are plenty of locations and each one is a fairly short set of puzzles, this gives the game a suitably breathless, fast-moving feel.
I reliably dislike it when these games impose time penalties, doubly so when it’s for doing something reasonable. This game does that, and indeed sets deliberate traps; but in fairness, there’s a good narrative excuse for that, and if you’re paying attention you can reliably distinguish real leads from decoys.
There’s a mystery to solve along with the main chase, but you don’t particularly need to work it out fully, just to make the right choice, at which point the answer is revealed; on balance that’s probably a sensible design choice. If I were going to pick out one puzzle to criticise, it’d be a certain app-based one where finding the key piece of information seemed just a bit too hit and miss; but nothing felt noticeably off or unfair.
It’s an attractive and solid game, with a smart conclusion. My impression is that Unlock! have been experimenting with various new ideas in their recent games, with variable success; but with Arsène Lupin and the other two games in the Timeless box, they’ve found ways of using those ideas that complement the core system to build games that are imaginative but broadly fair and satisfying. 3.5 / 5
Pris rated this:4 / 5

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