Room-in-a-box, Mar 2021
The Seventh Screening – name chosen purely to shoehorn in the number ‘7’, to celebrate this being Unlock’s seventh box – is a tribute to the classic age of Hammer horror movies, and jumps between you as a cinema-goer and you as the movie’s protagonist. All the cards that take place ‘in the movie’ use black and white artwork, and this game’s quirk is to abandon Unlock’s usual system of combining red cards with blue cards; instead, all cards are grey, and you can combine any pairs. That works perfectly well and frankly makes me wonder why they need the red/blue colouring in the rest of their games.
This is labelled as the easiest of the games in the box, but it’s not so well suited for beginners, because early on it uses a couple of tricks (out of the box thinking, tricks with the app) that are reasonable if you’ve played a few Unlock games before but could seem pretty unfair if you’re expecting the game to work according to the principles described in the rulebook.
The other reason I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners is because it just felt like a very bumpy ride that kept leaving us unsure of how to proceed – not stuck on a particular puzzle, but just trying to guess what the game intended for us to do next. This is a general weakness with the Unlock games, in that if you can’t find the onward thread of the game there isn’t a good way to take a hint for it without risking unwanted spoilers; and that problem felt particularly noticeable in this one.
That’s a shame because there are a lot of cute ideas in Seventh Screening, from the visual nods to various horror icons to the way it plays with the movie theatre setting. That includes the clever final puzzle, which worked well (at least, once we figured out where we were supposed to be looking…), but caused an unavoidable interruption to the game flow right at the game’s climax.
I’d put this as one of Unlock’s weaker games; but if you have the box (and the Mission #07 game provides a good reason to get it), then it’s entertaining enough to play.