Escape Academy [Hivemind Review]

Escape Academy is a point-and-click escape game. The developer is Coin Crew Games and the publisher is iam8bit, Skybound Games.

Illustrated headmaster character says, "If an escape from the traditional path piques your interest... climb aboard."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level… but it helps to have experience controlling characters on your platform of choice

Required Equipment: Steam on PC, Xbox, PS4/PS5, or Epic Games

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: 4-8 hours of gameplay. Each level is typically between 15-30 minutes.

Price: $19.99 for base game, additional $14.99 for the season pass with 2 planned DLCs; base game available with subscription on XBox Gamepass

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

A simple jaunt to an escape room turned into an epic quest to join the Escape Academy, pass its tests, and unlock the secrets of its faculty. To do this, we had to complete 11 specific tasks given to us by the faculty, where each task translated into an entire escape room. Each “room” was a self-contained open world where we could travel in all directions, inspect designated hot spots, collect items, and interact with standard and not-so-standard escape room mechanisms like combination locks, keypads, chainsaws, and so forth. Each room had a time “limit” to give urgency to the activity, but you could choose to extend the timer when it expired.

There are both solo and multiplayer options.

Escape Room Waiver, playfully giving controller instructions in a video game.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Escape Academy was a delightful point-and-click-style experience. The game is structured cleverly in a series of challenges that players can choose to complete either sequentially or at a leisurely pace. Each challenge has both the time limit and difficulty level listed for players to see before they commit to playing. I enjoyed the narrative conceit of the Escape Academy and the colorful cast of characters I met along the way. The design was charming and each challenge felt fun, with a sense of urgency akin to a real life escape room. There were a few moments where I found myself racing against the clock and narrowly escaping. Occasionally, some of the puzzles felt like a bit of a logic leap, but thankfully there was a reasonably helpful hint system. Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable game. I played the solo player version but I suspect it would be even more fun in multiplayer mode. In short, I recommend this one. Good luck at the Academy!

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

We’re in a bit of a boom time for major-release escape room video games, with two of them coming out in the past year. Thankfully, the two games are wildly different and fill distinct niches. Escape Academy’s fully developed storyline takes players to every REA reader’s first choice college – the eponymous Escape Academy – where our character spends a few semesters learning to be the best escape artist they can be. Players meet a cast of characters mostly made up of professors who challenge them to levels that range in difficulty. I was pleased that the levels had varied objectives and it wasn’t just about escaping from a locked room.

There are already plans for two DLC packs to be released in the next few months for an extra charge – I’ll let the reader decide how they feel about a $20 game becoming a $35 game six months after it comes out. As far as I can tell, no plans exist to include a level builder in Escape Academy so this is a single playthrough game. You can expect to spend somewhere in the range of 5-6 hours playing through all the release-day content. It was definitely a fun and largely frustration-free few hours: the bright & cheery aesthetic of the game was both visually pleasing and conducive to finding needed objects, the intro/ tutorial had plenty of inside jokes, and the puzzles were entertaining.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Escape Academy offered a solid translation of escape rooms to a video game format, standing out from the crowd not for innovating in escape room design but for providing a more freeform way to explore escape rooms online. Enthusiasts will certainly get the “feel” of escape rooms from this game, as it playfully mimics some aspects of IRL experiences while also incorporating objects and environments that would be too impractical or dangerous in person. The puzzles were consistently of high quality, with a decent mix of novel and familiar designs. The overarching story was engaging, and the micro-story of each room carried through well into its puzzles, always thematically and sometimes narratively. For me, the game shined most when it required us to use objects for more than their obvious intent in ways that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. Overall, this was a very solid production from every angle of room design.

Unfortunately, for players like me who aren’t fluent in modern video game navigation, the defining feature of this game was also its biggest distraction. The open world feel was cool in concept to me, but in reality I spent a disproportionate amount of attention on the game controls. I couldn’t explore the rooms as freely as I wanted to because I was devoting so much effort to (over)steering my character or precisely placing my cursor. To be fair, my gamer partner had no trouble navigating, though he said that smoother experiences do exist in other games. So, this isn’t a flaw in the game, but I do expect it to affect some players’ ability to enjoy the game fully.

Ultimately, I think Escape Academy achieves its goals well: mimicking IRL escape rooms in a video game format with a bit of extra flair. If your circumstances make IRL escape rooms sometimes hard to access, this game offers a good amount of quality homebound content, especially for the price. Just consider your pre-existing comfort with video game navigation when setting your expectations for this experience.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Escape Academy is a point-and-click game that puts you, essentially a student at Escape School, in a variety of challenges to prove your skills and become an “Expert Escaper.” As an enthusiast, I appreciated the familiar escape room mechanics used throughout often extreme scenarios (which would never occur in a real-life escape room). The inclusion of a countdown timer added an appropriate sense of urgency and caused me to race around, looking for items that I needed to complete the objective. If time ran out, I was rewarded with a snarky comment from the disappointed Headmaster and an option to add extra minutes to complete the level. Hints were available, but vaguely nudged you in the right direction instead of giving you the solution, which would have been helpful in later, more complex puzzles. The report cards between chapters were a nice thematic touch, although, as an overachiever, anything less than an “A” compelled me to replay the level to get a better grade. With a strong storyline and entertaining characters combined with puzzle-focused gameplay, Escape Academy gets an “A” from me!

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