What is it? An incredibly simple game of playing numbers in the right order. I know that doesn’t sound like much but trust me it’s brilliant. How many people? 2-4 works best with 3 or 4. How long does it take? 15 minutes (but it’s intense) Who is it for? Small group looking for something a simple co-op game. Buy it: On Amazon here
The Mind - Reviewed in a minute - YouTube
Why we recommend it
How long could you wait?
How patient are you?
How patient are the people you’re playing with?
You’re staring at a 30 on the table and you have a 55 in your hand, is now the time? No, let’s wait some more. Now? No, no, it’s not quite time. Ok it’s been to long I have to play the 55! You did it, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Then the silence begins again.
On the face of it The Mind is a ridiculously simple game. There are numbered cards from 1 to 100, you dish some out and just have to play all the cards from your team in ascending order. Every time you do that you go to the next level and get more cards.
That challenge though is not a small one. You cannot communicate. You can’t talk, nod, wink, cough, write, text or send smoke signals. You can offer nothing in your facial expression. Nothing.
So how can you explain anything to your team mates? How can you tell them you have the 55 and if they have something lower they should play it before you do.
All you have is time and feel. When I heard about this game I didn’t get it. when I played the first round I didn’t get it. But after those first couple of rounds. I understood. I was hooked.
That’s because this game has such dramatic tension, emphasized by the silence you’re playing in. Doing nothing can feel intense when you have to wait what can feel like an eternity to just play a card. Then that immidiate moment of panic when you do and you look at your team mates, hoping you made the right call. You get a spike of happiness when they look relieved as well, then back to silence.
Although sometimes you don’t have to wait, you are all smashing down cards like machine guns as you rattle out all the numbers close to each other, hoping you can drop your 43 on the 42 before anyone lays anything higher.
The pressure can build to utter euphoria when you finish a later level. After minutes of silence without being able to celebrate now you can!
It isn’t just about your own perception of time though, it’s about everyone else’s. Learning how they think, when they might make a move.
As you get into that zone with your team you’ll find that you start to develop a sixth sense, there’s a sense of flow you’ll all fall into. It’s intense. So much so that after a game I often needed a moments break, that’s despite a game usually only taking 5-10 minutes.
What is it? A mixture of parlour games that is an in-joke making machine How many people? 4+ can be played with almost any number but 6-10 is the sweet spot How long does it take? 30+ minutes (you can dictate the length yourself) Who is it for? Groups of people with a few drinks Buy it: On Amazon here or print it yourself here. (You can also buy some smaller boxes of cards here and here, no original version needed)
Monikers reviewed in a minute - YouTube
Why we recommend it
We have recommended Monikers a few times in various lists but we have never given it the respect it deserves with its own recommendation.
It might even be our favourite ever party game. Jokes from countless plays of this game still come up in my various groups of friends because it it’s core that’s what it does, creates in-jokes.
On the face of it Monikers is quite simple, it’s a box of cards with people and things on them. Like “A Shirtless Vladimir Putin”, “Tom Seleck’s Mustache” or “A dog doing yoga”.
The deck is a perfect blend of pop culture, memes and classic characters. Even if you don’t know one each card comes with an enjoyably written description.
You and your pals grab handfuls of these cards and put your favourites into a deck. Then you play your first parlour game.
You have 1 minute to describe as many of the cards from the deck as you can one at a time without using their actual name. The teams take it in turns until the deck is done and if you like you can count points (we don’t usually bother). That’s kind of fun, but I’ll be honest it’s not the most exciting or best first impression of a game.
Well you’re starting to learn the deck, you’ve heard every card’s name at least once. Maybe you can go through it all again, but this time you can only use one word to describe the card. Certainly more challenging but still only generating a small amount of laughs.
The third round is when it will click and this game transcends to brilliance.
Same deck of cards but now…
It turns out it’s possible (and hilarious) to do charades for the most obscure of things when everyone has learnt all the options it could be. You’ll have your friends falling over as feinting goats, waving their arms around like a spaghetti monster or whatever other improv they can come up with. All heightened by the fact you’re probably a couple of drinks in now.
You could stop there if you like, you’ll have had some laughs, but if you really want to step it up. If you really want to show off the genius of this simple box of cards. Create your own fourth round. Now you’ve been through the deck several times you can make the hardest most obscure round and it will not only work but be the funniest 10 minutes you’ve spent with a game. Favourites of ours include:
Only noises (whilst hiding behind the sofa)
Only using facial expressions and sounds
Charades under a sheet
I’m sure you can create your own brilliant last round. Monikers has always proven to be wildly popular with every group I’ve played with, even when my 92 year old Gran had to describe the card “the guy who waves an ISIS flag covered in dildos and butt plugs to a Pride parade” well at least she didn’t have to mime it.
Support Best Play and buy it! On Amazon here or print it yourself here. (You can also buy some smaller boxes of cards here and here, no original version needed)
Well there’s even more Unlock now and we thought we’d give you the run down on what we thought of the latest escapes. As with the previous box of Unlock, this one contains another 3 escape rooms (these are sold individually in some regions).
A Noside Story
This is a follow up to one of the rooms from the first box. You’re back in the evil made scientist’s lair. As with before, this game has some wonderfully over-the-top cartoon art and is equally as ridiculous in its solutions. It feels like an homage to the old wacky adventure games like Maniac Mansions and Day of the Tentacle. A lot of the puzzles in this escape revolve around combining items, just like those point and click adventures it’s inspired by.
How’d we do?
The box implies this is the easiest of all of the rooms but our group failed the hardest at this one. It has some slightly out there solutions which suit the tone but aren’t really that logical.
This felt most like previous Unlock games we had played – no big twists but a solid escape with a great sense of fun.
You’re on an old timey choo choo train trying to protect some treasure. This room quickly changes things up into a murder mystery and even has some surprisingly different mini games that keep you on your toes. Of all the Unlock games we’ve played, this felt the most different, relying more on hidden objects and time-based events.
How’d we do?
Nailed this one, figured out the criminals and solved it in time.
Probably one of my favourite Unlock games. Not because it was particularly mind bending or challenging, but because of how much variety it showed. If you like this room I’d recommend checking out deeper mystery solving games like Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.
The Adventures of Oz
A journey through Oz that mostly follows the plot of “The Wizard of Oz.” Actually knowing that plot will make some of the puzzles incredibly obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. This box packs a lot more than the average Unlock game, with a map to navigate and individual side quests for each of the characters. This meant the game could pack in some more challenging puzzles without having to frustrate some players from completing the core adventure.
How’d we do?
Got it just in time with all of the side quests.
Ambitious but at times felt a little over convoluted, stretching some of the Unlock systems to fit the adventure when perhaps it would have suited finding its own set of rules.
Personally, I enjoyed all 3 of these as I have with every Unlock box. I don’t think they’re the most challenging escape games if you’ve played a few but their sense of place and humour brings a lot to the table over the harder but dryer games like Exit.
You can support Best Play and enjoy escaping some rooms using the links below.
You can buy Unlock as a complete set here if you’re in Europe. The complete set here if you’re in the US.