The puzzle prison with a sadistic warden.
Location: Chicago, IL
Date played: August 11, 2016
Team size: 2-5; we recommend 4
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $99 for 2-3 players, $132 for 4 players, $165 for 5 players
Story & setting
This escape room took place in a standard prison setting. It was as gray, sparse, and unwelcoming as one would expect.
Some benefactor started a riot in another cell block to provide us time and opportunity for a daring escape.
The puzzles in The Prison were generally standard room escape interactions.
The early puzzles were stronger and relied on manipulating the environment of the prison.
Later in the game, the quality fell when unexciting interactions that were detached from the environment became the norm.
The game started with the team split between two prison cells. This forced teamwork and communication.
The first half of this game included some nifty interactions.
I adore the name Fox in a Box. It’s memorable and clever.
The Prison was brutally uneven. At one juncture in the game, half of our divided team had far more game play opportunity than the other. There was no game mechanism to ensure that both groups would continually participate throughout that portion of the experience.
At one point we stopped making progress and received a series of truly useless hints that actually led us further from the solution. Thus we spent a large portion of our game doing nothing. The fact that our gamemaster couldn’t read how miserable we were from our not-at-all concealed body language was a massive miss.
The second half of the game wasn’t up to the standard set by the first half.
Additionally, this game didn’t live up to Fox in a Box’s own standard. We had played Zombie Lab and Cold War Bunker at this company’s Los Angeles location, under the less creative name Room Escape Los Angeles. Those two games set higher expectations.
Should I play Fox in a Box’s The Prison?
The standard room escape puzzles weren’t particularly challenging or exciting, but the early game utilized the stark environment in some fun ways.
For players to truly enjoy this game, Fox in a Box needs to dramatically improve their gamemastering: the gamemaster should work to maximize the team’s fun. In our experience, the gamemastering was at best incompetent and at worst antagonistic.
If you visit The Prison, we recommend a team size of four, since you will be split into two groups, in an uneven setting that puts pressure on any player working alone. Choose a team of players who will ensure that everyone has a good time.
That said, regardless of your skill level, we recommend Cold War Bunker and Zombie Lab over The Prison.
Book your hour with Fox in a Box’s The Prison, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Fox in a Box comped our tickets for this game.