Escape Room in a Box: The Walking Dead [Hivemind Review]

Escape Room in a Box: The Walking Dead is a tabletop escape game created by Mattel.

Escape Room in a Box The Walking Dead box art depicts a cracked door with many zombie hands reaching through it.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: pen and paper

Note: You’ll need a computer and printer to reset the game for another user.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 90 minutes. The timer is only relevant if you want it to be.

Price: about $30

Description

This is a tabletop escape game in the same vein as previous Escape Room in a Box installments. You solve mostly paper puzzles, open real (plastic) locks, and repeat until there are no more puzzles. It is more about the puzzles than the story.

Open box, an assortmnt of locks, paper puzzles, and plastic props.

Theresa W’s Reaction

This game really surprised me. I’m typically wary of anything produced on a large scale and sold in stores, but The Walking Dead had some neat tricks up its sleeve! Without spoiling, there were some great reveals scattered throughout with objects transforming into more than meets the eye. The game wasn’t very Walking Dead-themed – if the box just said Zombie I’d believe it. (It totally could have been printed with any theme and the puzzles would still stay the same.) If you’re a die hard Walking Dead fan and are looking for something to scratch that itch, this won’t be your game. If you’re looking for a solid at-home experience, this definitely will deliver some satisfying moments! (It also goes on sale frequently on Amazon!)

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

The Walking Dead is the newest of Mattel’s Escape Room in a Box line of boxed escape games, and as such, it stands on the shoulders of giants. Rather, this game is piggybacking on those giants. This game has a lot of puzzles packed into it, and they vary in type (visual, manipulative, logical, etc.), so the game is good for players with a variety of strengths. The puzzles range in difficulty, but there is no difficulty indicator, leading to overthinking some puzzles. Without a solution sheet, there is no way to know if you have the correct answer on many puzzles until you try to use these answers in the meta and get nowhere. Related to that, the hint booklet is what I would call ‘sparse’ at best.

Where the series shines is the physical objects that you are given. The Walking Dead provides a number of items to solve and solve with, and they really do add a lot of value to the gameplay – a true key component. They pack a lot of use into these objects and they are definitely the highlight of The Walking Dead, especially at a time when access to a physical room is limited.

A warning, "Stop! Do not lift this panel until instructed to do so."

David Spira’s Reaction

Escape Room in a Box: The Walking Dead surprised me and left me with a generally positive impression.

While it was published under the “Escape Room in a Box” brand name from Mattel, it had a different creative team behind it… so I truly didn’t know what to expect going in. I bought it because it was on Black Friday sale. I had 4 big takeaways from playing it:

  1. The “safe lock” set piece that this game was built around was awesome. I’m confused that this thing exists, but I’m glad it did. When all was said and done, I took it apart and I keep fiddling with it.
  2. I didn’t get much Walking Dead out of this game. The premise was Walking Dead, but beyond that, there were no character references, and only one puzzle really even attempted to engage with zombies.
  3. The puzzles were solid. A few were standouts; most were engaging as puzzles, but didn’t build a world, advance a narrative, or do anything unique. The hints were too lean, anemic really. I know this because one of the key props came defective and I needed to bust out my tool kit and hack the thing to make it work because the hint system didn’t have much useful information in it. (I honestly enjoyed hacking the product.)
  4. As a puzzler, I had a good time. If I were a diehard Walking Dead fan and I found this on a store shelf, I cannot imagine this game doing anything for me.

In the end, I’m a little confused about who this is for. I’m glad I bought it. I am betting that my escape room-solving brethren will get at least some enjoyment out of this… I’d be shocked if a random Walking Dead fan wandering the games section of my local Target will get much of anything out of this.

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