Room-in-a-box, Apr 2021
Professor Noside, Unlock’s recurring villain, is back for a fourth game; this time, instead of trying to foil his latest plot, you’re helping extract him from a predicament of his own making, after an accident with his latest Animal-o-matic invention has left him trapped inside the body of his pet cat. This being a device to transfer consciousness into another creature’s body, you need to navigate the game’s obstacles by switching between a series of different animals, using the advantages of each to progress; we’ll just pass over the question of how some of the animals manage to operate the invention without hands.
Most of Unlock’s recent games seem to each include some particular technical gimmick specific to that episode. Animal-O-Matic has a whole bunch of them. I grumbled when one of them hit us with a time penalty when we were attempting to do the correct thing, presumably because the app was fussy about how precisely we needed to enter the answer, but other than that everything worked smoothly and complemented the wacky game style.
The Noside games form a kind of sub-genre within the Unlock series, all sharing the same cartoon aesthetics, audio style, and larger-than-life silliness. That style recalls some of the classic point-n-click computer games that Unlock’s system draws inspiration from, and which works well with their ‘combine two cards’ mechanism. That’s doubly true here, making for a game that feels fast paced but also far from easy, creative but logical, definitely one of their stronger ones.