Tested: Escape Room The Game

Posted on 2016-10-04 by Pim

Escape room enthusiasts probably already heard about it: Identity Games (an international boardgames publisher from Rotterdam) released a new boardgame called Escape Room The Game on September 1st. It's world's first escape room game to play at home and it promises the same exitement as a real-life escaperoom. The escapetalk.nl team couldn't wait to test it out. Would it come close to our beloved escape rooms?

The game
Identity Games stayed close to the concept of a real escape room: within 60 minutes you'll need to solve puzzles, make connections and enter codes to stop the time. Escape Room The Game contains four different stories which means four different games. All games have different difficulties, so we suggest you start with the easiest one. Sadly the games can be played only once (like most real escape rooms), but for the real enthusiasts they'll release expansion sets. The first ones are already announced for this month.

When you unpack the box the first thing you'll notice is the Chrono Decoder. This is the central piece of the game: the device counts down from 60 to 0 minutes and you'll enter all the codes into this device to finish the game as soon as possible. It has more functions, but we'll get to that later.

The game, according to Identity Games, is suitable for 3 to 5 players and a minimal age of 16 (probably because of the difficulty level). We took a detailed look at all of them and we'll gladly share our experience with you.



Starting
Before we started, we read the well-written manual. It's maybe even a bit overcomplete: There's a comprehensive part about how to use the Chrono Decoder and the corresponding keys. In contrast to a real escape room where you have to find out how puzzles work yourself, you'll get information on how to solve puzzles, how to enter the codes and even on when you need to use the decoder. It doesn't bother though, the puzzles are challenging enough, but the idea of entering a real-life escape room with this information is unthinkable. Aside from that we found the escape percentage info in the manual a bit strange. We're curious where that percentage comes from, since the game just entered the market. We don't think the manual gets updated every month?

We also want to say something about the application they developed fro the game. A great idea to improve the experience. With the app you can play accompanying music during the game and make a photo afterwards (just like real escape rooms). A great addition that we actually used. The app is clearly still in development though since we encountered a couple of bugs. Taking a picture didn't work properly all the time and sometimes the app would crash. We love the idea though!



Progress of the games
All the games start with a story, just like real escape rooms, to get in the mood. Without a real room this demands a bit more of your imagination but the stories speak for themselves. There should be some intro movies on the website but we couldn't find those anywhere. This could add to the experience of the game so we hope they become available for future players soon!

Every game has three phases. In every phase you'll decipher a code (sometimes with help of the tools on the Chrono Decoder). You enter into the Chrono Decoder and if the answer is right you'll open the next envelope. This is more or less comparable to finding a passage to the next room in a real escape room. The hint system also works great. At certain times a sound will played and you can decide if you want to take a hint or not. Taking a hint is simply taking a hint card and putting it in the hint decoder which makes the text readable. Simple, but effective.

We played Prison Break with 3 players but all other three with 2 players, just to see if that also worked. This worked great for us, aside from the Temple Of The Aztec story. This last story, the hardest one of all four, did get the best of us. Even with the solution in hand (after we failed) we didn't think everything was totally logical though. Maybe you really need to play that one with 3, maybe not, we're not sure. That frustration is recognizable though... It happens in real escape rooms too.

All in all we can say we really enjoyed ourselves with this game. The experience is translated really well to a board game and we noticed we were being pretty fanatic. Just like in a real escape room we rather didn't use hints, unless we really needed to. The puzzles are good, with some highlights we sadly can't mention without spoiling. Also the fact that some stories refer to to the others was a nice detail. It was good to see that they tried to make the game as accessible as possible for everyone, for a puzzle involving colors they even included a version for the colorblind. And finally, after finishing one of the stories we immediately wanted to do another one. Exactly, just like real escape rooms.

As far as we're concerned this boardgame is great addition to real escape rooms. We can't wait for the expansions that are coming out later this month!

More information? View the website of the game.

UPDATE:
Reviews of the expansions are already online too:

Murder Mystery & Welcome To Funland
Casino & Space Station

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