Escape Room the Game

Published in 2016
Published by Spin Master Games
No. of Players: 2 – 5 Players (although really you can get away with a few more)
Playtime: 60 minutes
Age: 16+ (although you can get away with a younger group playing)

I’d like to think of myself as a casual escape room player. If you’ve never done an escape room before, essentially you and a group of friends get locked in a room and using the clues provided by the gamemaster, find a way out. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of rooms. From escaping the woods from a killer, or escaping a bloody storage facility from zombies, or acting as time travelers looking for artifacts in four distinct time periods, I love playing these rooms because of their captivating storytelling and immersive gameplay.

Fast forward to last weekend. I’ve been trying to clean out some of the clutter in my house and decided to sell my PS3 games to the EB games store a few blocks away. Turns out that with all the games I sold, I managed to get a decent store credit. I noticed in the corner of my eye that the last copy of “Escape Room the Game” was on the board game shelf. When deciding whether to purchase “Escape Room the Game”, my biggest question was “How can such a small box be able to provide the same immersive experience that the actual escape rooms have?”  Looking at the cost and the credit I got, I would only have to pay fifteen cents for the game. To me, this was a no brainer. I asked the store clerk to give me a few minutes while I find fifteen cents in my car. After scrambling through the onboard storage containers, I luckily found one quarter. I ran back,  immediately purchased it and was super excited to try this.

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Escape Room the Game is a game created by Spin Master and is to mimic the escape room experience in the comfort of your own home. Four scenarios are provided by the game. For this review, I’m evaluating based on one of the “rooms” called Prison Break, but all the scenarios (Virus, Temple of the Aztecs, and Nuclear Meltdown) follow a similar structure. The game provides four packages and each package has three stages. In order to complete a stage and move to the next, you must put four of sixteen keys in the provided electronic decoder in the correct order and in the correct orientation.  To win the game, you and your team must complete all three stages.

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In order to explain how the game works, I need to explain the components provided. At the heart of Escape Room, is an electronic decoder (batteries not included). On the decoder is a red button, that when you press it will start the 60 minute timer. As the timer ticks down, you will hear a bell tone from the decoder. This indicates that you are allowed to use the provided hints in the game to help you if you are having trouble. On the sides of the decoder are also various coding systems that might be used during the game. The cue to use the decoder in that way is by seeing the letters “ER” next to the clue provided. The game also provides four sets of four identical keys. On both sides of each key you will see various symbols such as numbers, roman numerals, shapes, and letters. After solving the puzzles in the stage, you will insert four keys into the top of the decoder based on your answer. If the keys were inserted correctly, you will hear a bell ding, indicating that you are allowed to move onto the next stage (or if you have beaten the third stage, stop the timer and thus end the game).  However, if you inserted the keys incorrectly, not only will the decoder give you a nasty buzzing sound, but it will also take a minute off the timer, so it is important to make sure that the keys are put in correctly and in the proper order.

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When you start the game, you will first read the flavour text provided by the first stage envelope. Then you will unpack the envelope, ensure all the components are available for all players to see, and then finally start the timer. The game will end with either you and your team solving all three stages, or when the 60 minutes is up. To fully immerse players in their experience, Escape Room provides a companion app that you can use to play the music of the escape room you’re trying to beat, as well as give a full walkthrough on their website to tell you how to solve the room itself.

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I had the opportunity to play this with a small group of friends and I was quite surprised by how well-designed the game was. I’ll admit, for our run at “Prison Break” we used a lot of hints just because we weren’t too sure what the game was asking us to do. What was worst was that when we looked at the hints, it essentially just verified that we were going in the right direction. I used the companion app to play the music and it intensified the experience. After beating the room with 2:55 left on the timer (and we had to use the last hint to figure out what was going on), the group began to analyze what we were supposed to look for and what we missed. We even used the walkthrough provided online to see what were some of the things we overlooked. I yelled, “Really? That was the clue we were supposed to look at,” and then viewed the provided clues only to see the one picture that was inconspicuously hiding something important.

I’ve played a few escape rooms and this game does compare well to the actual escape rooms. I would describe this game as “Escape Room Lite” or “Diet Escape Room”.  It’s like doing a live room without all the running around or the cool high tech puzzles or the dozens upon dozens of locks. The provided lore on the first stage sets the tone through its good storytelling. The puzzles that we played were fair and, had we noticed certain things, we would’ve beaten the game without hints. I also found that the music provided in the companion app is necessary in order to create the ambiance of the game. I think it might be just a bit boring if you play the game without it.  The decoder and keys are an innovative way to use codes and find out to see if you have a solution. While Escape Room the Game doesn’t replace the live escape room, to get four game experiences for about sixty dollars (or in my case fifteen cents and whole bunch of unused video games) is a really good value especially when playing with a close group of friends or escape room enthusiasts. If you need to get your escape room fix, this is definitely a game to try.

Pros: 

  • Feels like an escape room experience.
  • Fair puzzles that will challenge teams.
  • Innovative decoder and keys that run the experience.
  • Good storytelling.

Cons: 

  • “Escape Room Lite”. Doesn’t have the cool and innovative puzzles of the real escape room.

 

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