Escape Passages: Volume 1 [Review]

DIY Escape This Podcast

Location:  at home

Date Played: June 2021

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 1-2 hours per scenario

Price: about $12

Author: Walter Miska

REA Reaction

Escape Passages was written by an escape room player for escape room players. This came through in the humorous writing, fun scenarios, and familiar gameplay.

This book was at its best when it leaned into its lack of physical game space, with solutions that could never have been executed within the walls of a real-life escape room. In these moments, it combined creativity and deduction wonderfully.

Although we didn’t enjoy every puzzle, and didn’t think they were all optimal choices for the medium, the gameplay generally worked well and was fun.

We played with a gamemaster who is experienced as a Dungeon Master, and she was skilled at turning our ideas into hilarity. Rest assured, however, that you don’t need any prior experience to be the gamemaster. The book tells you everything you need to know.

Escape Passages Vol 1 book cover.

Escape Passages would be perfect for a group of 3-5 friends who have played at least a handful of escape rooms, and want to bring that style of solving home with them.

This book is a vehicle to make your own fun. We recommend you try outlandish ideas and don’t take anything too seriously. You’ll enjoy some wonderful ahas and just as many laughs.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at some experience with escape rooms

Why play?

  • You can play these escape rooms practically anywhere, even remotely.
  • The writing has personality.
  • You create your own adventure.

Story

There are 3 scenarios in Escape Passages: Volume 1:

A Lizard in the Locker Room

We were in a high school locker room, looking to recover a stolen high school mascot.

Viking Invasion

We’d been captured by Vikings and needed to escape the confines of their longhouse.

Antidote

We were trapped in a genetics laboratory looking for an antidote to an experiment gone wrong.

Setup

Setup was simple. The gamemaster read from the book, describing the scenario. The players decided what items to further investigate and offered up solutions to the puzzles they encountered. The gamemaster consulted the book to provide the players additional details, confirm solutions, and subsequently reveal more information.

Some puzzles required visual aids from the book, so the gamemaster should be prepared to pass the book around at times, or take photos of certain pages to send to the players. For a larger group, it could also be helpful to have multiple copies of the book.

While no preparation was required, it did help to have the gamemaster familiarize herself with the scenario ahead of time.

Gameplay

The scenarios in Escape Passages: Volume 1 were standard audio escape games, hosted by a gamemaster (similar to a Dungeon Master in Dungeon & Dragons).

The scenarios ranged in difficulty, but will all be approachable to anyone familiar with escape room-style gameplay.

Core gameplay revolved around listening, searching, observing, making connections, and solving puzzles.

We also found drawing a map of the space to be an important element of gameplay.

Analysis

Escape Passages: Volume 1 was funny. The writing was clear, and had personality. It didn’t take itself, these ridiculous scenarios, or escape rooms too seriously. Even the rules were funny. The book was well written.

➕ The book was well organized and approachable. Anyone can be the gamemaster. All the descriptions you need are provided in the book.

❓ A word of caution for the gamemaster: Don’t make stuff up if you can’t find something. You’ll find the information eventually. The third scenario was not as well labeled, but everything was there in the end.

➕ Overall, we enjoyed the puzzles across all three scenarios. They varied in style, but all relied on keen observation (listening) and escape roomy-style connection-making.

➖ Not every puzzle landed perfectly.

  • The first scenario had a lot of number locks, not necessarily well mapped to the corresponding puzzles, and two of which had unnecessarily similar solutions.
  • The second scenario had one puzzle that required outside knowledge.
  • In the third scenario, we skipped over a puzzle sequence that became overly tedious.

➕ In all three scenarios, the writing encouraged us to try weird things and suspend our disbelief. Escape Passages: Volume 1 was at its best when it presented scenarios that couldn’t be easily recreated in physical spaces and were best solved in an imagined space.

➕ /➖ Solving Escape Passages: Volume 1 truly feels like solving an escape room. If you like this style of play, you’ll enjoy narrating and solving these scenarios.

Tips For Players

  • You barely need any space. We only needed a single sheet of paper (and the corner of the table) for drawing a map.
  • We recommend a pen and paper, along with the book. It would be helpful to have multiple copies of the book if you have a larger group.

Buy your copy of Escape Passages: Volume 1, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Author Walter Miska provided a sample for review.

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