Update 3/16/21: If you enjoy The Werewolf Experiment, we hope you’ll check out our interview with game and puzzle designers Juliana Moreno Patel and Ariel Rubin (The Wild Optimists) on The Reality Escape Pod.
Back in the old, innocent days of February 2016, Lisa and and I were a month away from our wedding when we received a message from Julianna and Ariel, the creators of Escape Room In A Box. They asked, and I’m paraphrasing:
“We’re about to launch a play-at-home escape room on Kickstarter. Will you promote it?”
Now we were not sold on this and thought it seemed like a pretty terrible idea. We’d seen our share of bad escape rooms and the last thing that we wanted to do was blindly promote a pile of garbage, so we responded:
“Nope, we won’t promote it… but we would review it if you could get one to us.”
We thought that would be the end of the discussion, but Julianna and Ariel said “sure” and overnighted the game to us.
We gathered our regular team, plus a newbie (as we generally try to include fresh eyes). While everyone was skeptical at the beginning, no one was at the conclusion. This was the review that I wrote then (in our old, non-standardized format):
Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment [Review]
Revisiting The Werewolf Experiment
Some 20 months later we gathered a new group of escape room lovers, cooked them risotto, baked them cookies, and watched them play the Kickstarter First Edition of Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment.
While The Werewolf Experiment was our first attempt at a tabletop escape game, this new group of players had seen many of the at-home escape rooms on the market. We worried it wouldn’t hold up, but they had a great time.
I’m happy to report that we’re able to let that old review stand with a few additions:
- The packaging in the Kickstarter edition was dramatically improved from the prototype that we played.
- The art, illustration, and general presentation of the Kickstarter edition were cohesive and massively improved. (I don’t really remember any in-game art in the prototype.)
- I didn’t know enough about at-home escape room games to comment on the hint system at the time. Now I can add that the hint system is easy to use and a lot less annoying than most of the tabletop escape game hint systems.
- We also called out that many of the puzzles were paper based and felt a little homework-y. While I think that style of puzzle is more acceptable in a tabletop game than a real life escape room, I also think that those puzzle types will stand out even more nearly 2 years later.
- We found a minor typo in the hint & answer booklets.
- This game still has some of the most brilliant escape room-y moments in all of tabletop escape games.
Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment, Mattel Edition
This November, the retail version of The Werewolf Experiment will hit store shelves as the game was picked up by Mattel.
The new edition will cost $29.99 and we will run a test group through it as well.
Some closing thoughts on the nature of Kickstarter:
Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment shipped roughly 7 months late and some folks have expressed resentment to Lisa and me over this. Not directed at us, but in our direction.
I’d like to take a moment to praise Julianna and Ariel for shipping within a year of their expected ship date and handling their Kickstarter with professionalism and grace. They kept in regular contact with their backers and focused on delivering a quality product. They did just that.
Lateness and Kickstarter go together like steel toilets and hidden keys. I backed something in November of 2014 and it was supposed to ship in March of 2015… and in October 2017, the dude is still working on it.
Backing something on Kickstarter is like paying someone in advance to keep a pinky swear. When a Kickstarter ships within a year of its expected date and turns out to be what was promised in the initial description, that’s a win.
While we’re on the subject of Kickstarter, have a look at our analysis of escape room crowdfunding efforts:
I bought ten of these games from them at the Escape conference in Chicago in 2016. I got them 14 months later. The issue is that I paid $37 per game, and now consumers can get essentially the same game for $30. Not cool. I’m sure they are good people, did the best the could, and made a good deal for themselves, but they kind of screwed the folks they sold to “wholesale” by then allowing retail sale below my cost. Buyer beware I guess. The fact that it’s quality at least help.
Paul, you raise some interesting points. I can’t speak to the wholesale side of things, as I know nothing about it. I can only speak as a Kickstarter backer who is happy with what I received.
I’m really sorry to hear that you feel screwed over and want to make it right. The Kickstarter edition does sell for $70 ($60 plus $10 shipping). There are several key differences between the first edition and the mass market version that make the original boxes more valuable. There are lots of people who are interested in having the limited edition game, especially knowing that it then went on to such a bright future. We had held back some games to cover any shipping or manufacturing defects. Once shipping was complete we released many of them and they sold out almost immediately for that price.
If you are unhappy with your wholesale purchase, we will refund your money immediately and pay for you to ship the games back to us. Please just email us and let us know.
-Juliana & Ariel
In the end, I didn’t buy 1,000 of these, and it’s not that big of a deal. I will try to sell them for my cost and see what happens, as I haven’t sold one at $70; there are a lot more of these types of games on the market since I signed up to buy them in mid 2016. I do not feel screwed over. That was poor phrasing on my part and I apologize. Your communication throughout – including this response and offer – has been upfront and classy. I wish you two nothing but the best.
Thanks for your kind words Paul. The offer stands if you change your mind down the line.
From what I’ve read, this game can only be played once or twice before it’s all old news. Will there be new additions that can be added so that it updates the information?
The Mattel version can be repacked and replayed. The puzzles won’t change, so this is essentially a one-and-done deal… which is how escape rooms are.
I don’t think that there will be any expansions to this particular game. I can’t imagine how they would do it.
Here are our notes on the Mattel edition: https://roomescapeartist.com/2018/02/01/escape-room-box-werewolf-experiment-tmattel/
Hi Jody! I’m one of the designer’s on the game. David is right that you can only solve this game once. On the website, you can get the materials you need to either repack it to give away to friends, or there is also a “hosted” version where you get to be the all knowing DM and can lead other people through the experience (and make it a bit more challenging or easy as you see fit) and it adds in one new puzzle.
While we won’t be putting out expansion packs, we are working on more games in the series.