Unlock! Mystery Adventures: The Tonipal’s Treasure
Unlock! Mystery Adventures: The Tonipal's Treasure
- Played April 2018
- 60 minutes
- 1-6 players
- $15-30; varies by country and retailer
- What People Say
If you love Unlock!’s other games and wanted a “Pirates of the Caribbean” style adventure, look no further than The Tonipal’s Treasure. It’s an epic sea-faring treasure hunt ridded with puzzles and vibrantly painted settings.
The puzzles start out with relatively simple and straightforward associations. They gradually become more challenging and layered as the game progresses. The puzzle structure itself is fairly linear, which is surprising, because your group will eventually have a dozen cards to work with, but still only one puzzle to solve. (Similar to Unlock!’s Squeek & Sausage) Linearity means all players get to enjoy every puzzle, which small groups may enjoy. On the other hand, players may feel that the linearity feels restricting for larger groups, and bottlenecks the game for everyone if the group is stuck on one puzzle.
Another factor contributing to The Tonipal’s Treasure linearity is the reliance on the companion app. Certain puzzles need to be solved by inputting the correct solution into the app’s “machine” and “code” features. While these features add a layer of depth and interactivity to the game, an over-reliance on them also means that puzzles must be done one at a time. The screen can only display one “machine” puzzle at a time, which means groups can’t work on separate “machine”-based puzzles at once. This can funnel any game into a strictly linear path. (Although many games, such as Dr. Goorse’s Island, have successfully branching puzzle paths while still using the app) What the app does manage to do fantastically is create a more immersive atmosphere. It supplements The Tonipal’s Treasure with an energetic and epic-sounding soundtrack and well-themed audio clues.
The card-based gameplay allows for really satisfying long-term payoffs in The Tonipal’s Treasure. Cards that provide clues or introduce puzzles may not get resolved until much later in the game. However, one improvement that could’ve been made was a puzzle that took so long to resolve that it had no longer made sense within the scope of the story, which pulls you out of the immersion. This was unfortunate, because The Tonipal’s Treasure otherwise poured a lot of thought and effort telling an intriguing pirates’ tale within its cards.
It is themed exceptionally well, heavily evoking Pirates of the Caribbean and other classic sea-faring tropes throughout its cards. The Tonipal’s Treasure has really honed its pirate-y adventure down to a point. This game blends treasure maps, naval warfare, mystic sea-witches, and talking parrots into one Yo-Ho-Ho-ing experience. Unfortunately despite all the effort put into theming, the story is easy to miss if you or your group isn’t dedicated to reading expositional text. The best stories are the ones you need to know, ones you must be involved in, to progress in the game. The Tonipal’s Treasure’s immersion could be vastly improved by making its narrative essential into its puzzles instead of a supporting element.
The scenery and clues consist of beautifully painted images, similar to the style of The Island of Dr. Goorse. From the card stock to the packaging, The Tonipal’s Treasure is almost a clone of its Unlock! siblings. Almost. It’s hard to discuss what’s different about The Tonipal’s Treasure without giving away any spoilers for the last puzzle. Our team all agreed this subtle but welcome change was a refreshing innovation, but we also agreed it added a slight discomfort in hand-feel as a result.
All in all, if you liked the other Unlock! games, you’ll like The Tonipal’s Treasure. If you haven’t played any before, The Tonipal’s Treasure is a good a place to start as any, in particular if you’re comfortable with slightly more challenging puzzles.