Location: Your Home!
Players: We recommend 1-3
“A funny thing happened on the way to my potential…”
From the Space Cowboys website:
Scheherazade is in grave danger! She only has one hour to tell one last story to the Sultan, but she’s out of ideas. The scribe she asked to help her come up with a story has gone missing, and she is begging you to find him and bring him back as soon as possible with a tale to please the Sultan. The princess’s life may end in the hands of the executioner, so act fast!
I adore the 1001 Arabian Nights, and finding out that Unlock! would be releasing an adventure that featured the greatest weaver of tales, Scheherazade, was very exciting. I couldn’t wait to pop this one open to see what fantastic adventures awaited us in this exotic adventure!
Immediately upon popping open this game, I could tell the artwork was going to be amazing. It truly evokes a feeling of mystery and adventure, and I really think it is some of the best the series has to offer. There are a few great puzzles sprinkled throughout the experience that play with the cards and perspective in fantastic ways, and the set up for the story is classic and immediately entertaining. A few out of the box interactions promise iconic moments for this entry into the franchise, and there are some great ideas tucked away inside this box. All the potential this game had, however, is completely squandered fairly quickly.
Enter the colorful world of 1001 Arabian Nights!
This box was one of the biggest letdowns in the Unlock! series. Admittedly, as a fan of the 1001 Arabian Nights, I had higher expectations, but even players who aren’t are going to have some serious problems with this game. There are several points within the game where you are penalized for taking completely reasonable actions, some of which are actively encouraged by the game. These “gotcha” moments are evident in the last entry into Unlock’s Exotic Adventures, Night of the Boogeymen, but they are much more egregious here. The fact that two of the newest Unlock! games contain this sort of regressive game design is disheartening, and I hope newer adventures leave this sort of arbitrary penalization behind permanently.
One of the machine puzzles that is presented is clued incredibly vaguely, and penalizes you every time you fail. Because of the vague clues, guess and check is required to fully solve this puzzle, so this constant penalization is frustrating and really sucks the fun right out of the game. It isn’t easily solved either, so expect a lot of your play time to be drained with this interaction, stalling you from the rest of the adventure until you finally complete it. Another machine interaction is an excellent idea, but requires outside knowledge of the story, (which we fortunately had,) and a lot of pure luck getting your device to do what it is supposed to, (which we did not, causing us to fumble about wondering how to solve the puzzle.) The end of this tale is also supremely anticlimatic, and for all the buildup, we were really hoping for something more than that. On the whole, I’d describe the experience of playing this box as actively discouraging.
Scheherazade’s Last Tale is a game that I was supremely excited to play, based on the theme, but unfortunately, the whole experience face-plants into frustration and poor game design almost immediately. This is definitely an Unlock! game that you should give a wide berth, as the few clever puzzles and great art style is not enough to make up for the extremely misguided gotcha penalties and leaps of logic that plague this adventure. Definitely check out one of the better games from your friendly local game store, however! We bought ours at the ever excellent Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!