Looking for gift ideas? Check out our holiday buyer’s guide.
Batteries not included.
Location: at home
Date played: December 2016
Team size: 3-5; we recommend 2-4
Duration: 4 60-minute games
Price: $40, although it’s usually less expensive on Amazon
2016 brought a wealth of at-home escape games and Spin Masters introduced one with a twist: they created an at-home escape room framework and then 4 individual hour-long escape rooms that followed their at-home game mechanics. Given this design, they have opportunity to release inexpensive expansion packs.
Each game followed the same 3-act structure with envelopes (and in one case, a small box) containing all of the puzzling components.
We used the contents of the envelopes in conjunction with the “Electronic Chrono Decoder,” 16 keys, and a hint decoder.
The Chrono Decoder contained the game clock and 4 slots to input the various keys. The keys came in a few varieties with different markings to form answers.
The hint decoder was a red filter that made hint cards readable. Each game came with its own set of hint cards, marked with different timings. When the game clock displayed that time, we were cleared to look at that hint. When it worked correctly, this maintained the game’s pace.
The four games in order from least to most difficult were: Prison Break, Virus, Nuclear Countdown, and Temple of the Aztec.
Puzzling was the reason to play Escape Room The Game. Now, I’m not saying that they were the greatest puzzles out there, or that their implementation was particularly exceptional; I can’t make those claims. However, the experience was puzzle-focused.
None of the games offered an excellent puzzling experience from start to finish. It felt like one game’s worth of good ideas was split between 3 different episodes, and then there were no good ideas left for the last one.
There were a few excellent puzzles contained within Prison Break, Virus, and Nuclear Countdown.
Escape Room The Game costs between $30 – $40 for 3 hours of adequate puzzling and 1 hour of skippable garbage. It’s a good deal.
I loved Spin Master’s structured approach to at-home escape games. The general concept of an at-home table top escape room framework that could be inexpensively expanded was brilliant.
Nothing was destroyed in the course of playing these games, so it was easily repackaged and shared. In fact, our copy was mailed to us by our friend EscapeRoomer in Portland, Oregon, who also has reviews of these games (Prison Break & Virus).
Temple of the Aztec was one of the worst puzzle games I’ve ever played. I think it failed because Spin Masters didn’t know how to make a harder game. Instead of including more difficult puzzles, they broke the clue structure. We won… but we were shocked when our final answer worked. Don’t play it unless you’re looking to observe a disaster in the wild.
Each game began with an obnoxiously long setup to read that was completely inconsequential. These could have communicated just as much information at 1/16 the length.
While playing Virus, the Chrono Decoder returned a false negative, telling us that we had a correct answer wrong. I corrected this problem by pushing the final two keys in at once. For some reason that worked.
None of the games told a cohesive story.
The speaker on the Chrono Decoder was way too loud.
The hinting structure only worked if a team kept on pace with the expected gameplay. We generally found ourselves pretty far ahead of the hints. Thus if we got stuck, we wouldn’t earn a helpful hint for a long time. By the time the hint arrived, we had usually managed to solve the puzzle, despite a lot of intermittent frustration.
Should I play Spin Masters’ Escape Room The Game?
The decision to purchase Escape Room The Game is a value judgment. All boxed escape rooms are single-use experiences, even if they can be repacked and shared with friends. There are other games available that are, without a doubt, higher quality experiences. However, to our knowledge, no other at-home game comes close to providing this much puzzling time per dollar.
Beginners will have plenty to puzzle over and will likely find these games a serious challenge.
Experienced players will find games that are easy to share with friends and family when bad weather keeps you inside.
We played Escape Room The Game in a two different sessions. Both groups had fun (except when we played Temple of the Aztec). This wasn’t the most brilliantly designed game out there, but we all enjoyed our time puzzling together, and that ain’t nothing.
(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale).