The Escape Book: Can you escape this book? [Review]

“Like a toboggan-ride of pain” (page 126)

Location:  at home

Date Played: October 2018

Team size: 1-¯\_(ツ)_/¯; we recommend 1

Duration: It depends (see below)

Price: $10

Publisher: Ivan Tapia

REA Reaction

On its surface, The Escape Book: Can you escape this book? was a good product. It had well-tested puzzles, quality printing, a strong hint system, and a well-defined aesthetic. Unfortunately, these were overshadowed by the problems.

The Escape Book's black, white, and yellow cover of a door opening. It asks, "Can you escape this book?"

The Escape Book contained 18 puzzles in its 176 pages. Most of the book’s content was long, rambling, repetitive, droning, and repetitive drivel. The story constantly shifted between uncomfortable, laughable, and boring. 

Play through The Escape Book to breeze through its puzzles. They weren’t special, but they worked well. While this may appeal to some newbies, we suggest taking a pass on this one. If you choose to play, skip most, if not all of the story. 

Who is this for?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Why play?

  • The puzzles solve cleanly.
  • A well-designed and generous structured hint system

Story

Candela Fuertes, a brilliant 28-year-old investigative journalist/ hacker, had been writing a story on the currency-manipulating Castian Warnes and his Wanstein Club.

Warnes, the evil multibillionaire, had publicly claimed to have created The Daedalus, a death trap labyrinth that housed his secrets. Anyone could enter it freely, but they would perish if they failed to complete his puzzles within 60 minutes.

In-book, page reads, "The Beginning, Candela has 56 minutes left to live."

Candela decided to enter this escape room/ death trap in an attempt to uncover Warnes’ misdeeds. For reasons that never made sense, she did this without telling her editor or loved ones. 

We played as Candela, navigating her through the puzzles.

Setup

The Escape Book followed a simple structure. In each chapter we read a few pages of prose, which told a bit of the story, and concluded with a puzzle.

In-book, page shows the first puzzle: a grid of circles that look like flat-head screwheads, some oriented vertically, others, horizontally.

The puzzle solved to a number. We then turned to that page number to continue the story. 

In-book, page, shows the answer input.

If we struggled with a puzzle, the book provided a page that we could turn to for hints. Each puzzle (except for the final one) had 5 hints that increasingly simplified the puzzle.

In-book, page,shows portions of the first puzzle's hints.

Finally, we could turn the page in the hint section to reveal the solution.

In-book, page shows that the puzzle's solution is on the next page.

Gameplay

The Escape Book was a simple puzzle book with a low level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and basic puzzle solving.

Story overshadowed gameplay.

Analysis

➕ We liked the appearance of the book. The black, white, and yellow aesthetic looked sharp. The Escape Book was printed well.

➕ Most of the puzzles were clued well and solved cleanly. 

➖ One late-game puzzle felt poorly clued. It seemed instead to clue a future puzzle, which deviated from the patterns set by the book.

❓ The puzzles were easy. Most of them took us less than 30 seconds to solve. Those that took a little longer required some process work. This wasn’t inherently good or bad; it comes down to how much you want to have to work at solving a puzzle. 

In-book, page reads, "Clue Zone" with an unlocked padlock.

➕ It was easy to use the thorough hint system. We appreciate any play-at-home game that allows puzzlers of any experience level to play on their own terms. 

➕ We liked the concept of an interactive novel with puzzles. We’ve seen this before with the Winston Breen series, which we really enjoyed.

➖ Far too much of The Escape Book was rooted in its narrative. We spent most of the time reading prose… which might have been great, if it had been an entertaining story. 

➖ The writing was uncomfortably bad. The story amounted to a dull, repetitive tale of currency manipulation with a couple of rants about George Soros thrown in for flavor.

➖ When we weren’t reading droning passages about shorting currency futures, we were treated to descriptions of a nonsensical villain who was supposed to seem scary, but came across as silly.

“The Daedalus, the security system created by a man incapable of remembering names or passwords, is about to finish Candela off” (page 80).

➖ Our heroine’s actions were laughably shortsighted, which uncomfortably juxtaposed against how badass she was supposed to appear. All of this was further undermined by excessive descriptions of her body. How many times did we need to read about the rising and falling of her chest? It went “up… down… up…” 

In-book, first story page shows the description of the main character.
This is the first page. ⬆️⬇️⬆️

My favorite utterly unnecessary passage: 

“In her final year at university, Candela had shared a flat with Mark, a computer addict. They were friends with benefits. Over the course of living with him, Candela had learnt a bit about sex and a lot about the stock exchange” (page 39). 🔥Hot 🔥

The Escape Book was originally written in Spanish. It’s possible that something about the writing was lost in translation… but there came a point where that didn’t matter.

❓ We could have solved most of the puzzles without reading the story, or by only reading the last couple of paragraphs of a section. I think that this would have been the optimal way to play. 

Tips For Visiting

  • Space Requirements: None. We solved most of the book while sitting in a diner. 
  • Required Gear: Pen (we recommend Frixion pens) or pencil. An internet-connected device is required to complete the book. 
  • Optional gear: A knife or scissors.

Buy your copy of The Escape Book: Can You Escape This Book?, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

(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.)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.