Unlock! Secret Adventures: Tombstone Express

8.2 Overall
Component Quality
Puzzle Design
Game Experience
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Tombstone Express

  • Played June 2018

  • 60 minutes
  • 1-6 players
  • $15-30; varies by country and retailer

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Tombstone Express is one of three in Unlock!’s newest Secret Adventures escape games (the other two being The Adventurers of Oz and A Noside Story). You’re aboard a train in the Wild West when suddenly, there’s an explosion that leads to stolen cargo, and the entire trip begins to go awry! You and your crew need to get to your location safely by fending off local dangers while also uncovering an on-board conspiracy through finding clues and talking to witnesses to make sure you retrieve what was unjustly taken!

The packaging of Tombstone Express is almost exactly what you would expect from an Unlock! game. Almost. A sleek box with beautiful art and a deck of 60 cards with a nice silky finish is the standard, but the “secret adventures” set of Unlock! games comes with their own cardboard components. The introduction of these new cardboard components opens up a ton of possibilities for new gameplay and puzzle options. Tombstone Express’s use of its cardboard bullets added a fun mid-game intervention, breaking up the standard hour-long “searching and solving puzzles on cards” experience that some players may find monotonous after a while.

In addition to the new components, what Tombstone Express also does better than its predecessors is its use of pacing. Unlike previous games where the pacing is completely dictated by the players, the game now uses its available technology to insert realistically timed events! This makes the game experience so much more immersive; if a bad guy wanted to get away, they wouldn’t wait for you to finish solving a puzzle first!

The story of Tombstone Express is also well developed, with its own A-plot and B-plots to keep things entertaining. The mystery you need to solve, the dangers you need to avoid, and the motives you need to uncover are all ones that make sense too. The other passengers aboard act as witnesses or helpers, and will give you different information depending on how you interact with them. Different choices you make also affect the obstacles you’ll face and the ending of the game. The whole experience gives Tombstone Express a more fleshed-out feeling than some of the previous games in the Unlock! (or most other escape games) series.

The puzzles of Tombstone Express did not disappoint either. All of the puzzles were intuitive and none required any logical leaps. The puzzle paths that led to different endings and outcomes were really nice too. There was a solid variety of puzzles as well; from logical combinations, to creative searching, to creating poker hands, Tombstone Express combines old tactics with fresh perspectives.

Overall, Tombstone Express was a very enjoyable ride. It felt engaging and unique, the end goal wasn’t unreachable in the time allotted, the hint system was good, and the new game mechanics were greatly appreciated. If you enjoy Wild West style mysteries, Tombstone Express might be your next best purchase.

Final Verdict:


2 responses

  1. Kristofer Dolton says:

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thank you, I’ll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your website?

    • The ERA Team says:

      Thanks Kristopher, it’s very kind & gracious of you to let us know how much you enjoy our site and all that we do! We crrently have over 30 reviewers spread across 7 ERA teams, so our updates happen whenever teams have submitted their reviews. Once they are submitted the reviews are gently edited, formatted, and posted by our website team. This process can happen within days of a review visit or in some cases (when we get backlogged), it may take us several weeks.

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