We love escape rooms and consequently love the EXIT series, Unlock adventures and we’re almost at the end of Journal 29 (that reminds me, we need to go back to that!) So when we heard about the Adventure Game series, we were excited!
Published by Kosmos (who did the EXIT series - our favourite!) and designed by Phil Walker-Harding and Matthew Dunstan, we were excited about these when we heard about them at Essen Spiel last year. We were teased with a little more information at UK Games Expo this year and I got to see a mock-up of them at GenCon.
Kosmos very kindly sent me Monochrome Inc and The Dungeon to have a look at, so here are my initial thoughts after having played through Monochrome Inc!
These are a game in three parts. You can either play through each part separately, taking photos when you finish to track your progress or play them through in one go. We decided to go all out and play in one sitting.
Monochrome Inc felt like a cross between Unlock and Time Stories. (Everything I say here is based on the one game as we’re keeping The Dungeon to play with friends this weekend!)
In Monochrome Inc you are a group of high-tech criminals, given access to the ground floor of Monochrome Incs remote research facility. It’s up to you to find out about ‘Rainbow’ a miracle drug the company is currently testing.
There are five stages to a character's turn.
- Exchange action cards with another character.
- Move a character figure.
- Reveal a level (if applicable)
- Do one of the following actions:
Explore a location on the level - Read aloud from the adventure book the entry that matches the three-digit location number and follow the instructions
Combine two adventure cards with each other - Simply combine the two numbers to create a four-digit number and read the entry for that number. The smaller number always goes first eg. combining items 12 and 43, you would look up number 1243
Combine an adventure card with a location - Combine the two-digit number from the card with the three-digit one on the location, look it up and read aloud.
- Then you may exchange adventure cards (this can only be done at the beginning or end of a players turn)
You start with one location card on the board. Your characters can then visit different aspects on the card. This may reveal adventure cards or other locations. Each character in Monochrome Inc has a handicap - if they visit location spots showing a matching icon they will increase the alarm level. I’m sure you can imagine what happens if that gets too high!
At the end of each chapter, you are awarded points for specific items found, puzzles solved and not tripping the alarm (too much) At the end of the game you add up your totals and are given an overall rank.
Now, we really enjoyed Monochrome Inc, though I will say it had some ‘issues’ Firstly, from a purely aesthetic point of view, I hate cardboard standees which is what the character markers are. I appreciate not everyone feels like this, but to me, they come across as cheap and a call back to the 80s.
Secondly, the adventure book is small (designed to fit nicely into the small box, I get it) this meant when we were looking up an entry it was all too easy to see another one. If we were trying to combine item number 20 with item 43, it was too easy to see the entry for 2041 for example rather than the 2043 you were looking for.
Lastly, and quite importantly, we managed to break the game! It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but we played it two player. I was incapacitated and Rob couldn’t move anywhere without another player, so we were stuck. We re-started the game and didn’t make those stupid mistakes again!
We did play The Dungeon over the weekend and I have to say out of the two, this was the one I enjoyed most. We played this one four players rather than just the two of us and again, everyone was happy to carry on playing through the three parts of the game rather than packing it up after part one. Instead of alarm levels, each player starts the game with three health points that will go up and down throughout the game. I suspect this was the second of the two made as there seemed to be a lot of improvements. The character tokens were wooden - yay! And the spots on the location cards had completely different numbers so no fear of accidentally reading the next part of the puzzle. This one just seemed to flow a lot better than Monochrome Inc for us, I’m not sure if part of that was the player count. We also scored on rank higher - yippee!
We really enjoyed both of these, one to try if you are a fan of EXIT and/or Unlock. They are re-usable (unlike the EXIT games) however, I’m not sure if you would replay them - I guess it depends how good your memory is. The puzzles were tough but we didn’t get totally stuck at ant point as there was always somewhere else to investigate (there is a set of handy hints in the rulebook if you get completely stumped)