Paper Adventures – Great Space Escape [Kids’ Product Review]

Mvemjsun and beyond!

Location: at home

Date Played: June 25, 2022

Team size: 1-5; we recommend 1-3

Duration: 30-60 minutes

Price: about $15

REA Reaction

Great Space Escape was a solid escape room kit for kids that dabbled with immersive elements amidst a simple yet fun story. Although the setup took longer than advertised (an hour vs. 20 minutes), the resulting 3D papercrafts were the highlight of the game, mimicking thematic objects in the narrative and helping the game come to life. Even though we don’t live in a space ship, the narrative and accompanying movement through our home helped the kids imagine that we were in one. One puzzle particularly delighted my kids by incorporating knowledge of our home (“HOW DID THEY KNOW???”).

The activities in this kit seemed well-designed for the average frustration tolerance of children. They required simple connections that yielded attainable aha moments. Kids with a lot of puzzling experience might find these puzzles to be on the simpler side, but they were still thematically engaging with some satisfying interactive elements.

A paper robot and alien along with other paper puzzle components.

As the gamemaster, I was pleased with the gameplay enhancements that Paper Adventures had made beyond their last game, Auntie’s Manor. The quintessential “Game on a Page” quick reference sheet that summarizes all key elements of gamemastering now contains the solutions, and almost all of the cutting has been offloaded to the setup phase. Also, from a hosting perspective, the story was more interesting with more opportunities to embellish the experience if you have the energy and interest. All in all, this was a lovely little game for both the players and gamemaster alike.

Who is this for?

  • Kids (age 8-12, though younger if they can read well)
  • Young story seekers
  • Wannabe gamemasters

Why play?

  • Kids will enjoy the playful narrative and cleverly interactive papercraft objects.
  • This would be cute for a small space-themed children’s party.

Story

In the year 2222, our field trip aboard a spaceship was waylaid by the resident robot, who locked everything down after sensing the presence of aliens. We had to navigate through the locked corridors to appease the robot and guide the ship safely home.

The story progressed through a series of “chapters,” interleaving narrative revelations with the gameplay. Although there were more narrative details than necessary for a solid story experience, my kids appreciated the extra information. For my part, I was impressed at how many of the puzzles authentically furthered the story.

Printed puzzle components. A larger document is labeled, "Chapter 1: Dormitory"

Setup

The printable game materials were divided into six “chapters,” each containing an explanation of the story progression and a set of related puzzle clues. An adult gamemaster’s main pre-game tasks were choosing a location for each chapter and then cutting and assembling the clues for that chapter’s puzzle. The game included a substantial gamemaster book to support this setup process, but most of that process was well-explained on the game materials themselves.

For anyone interested in matching their space to the narrative, some chapters worked best in rooms with doors, and others happened in corridors. One chapter benefited from the presence of several chairs.

The entire setup process took close to an hour given the variety of interesting props to create for the players.

6 chapter pages laid out in an arc.

Gameplay

Paper Adventures’s Great Space Escape was a kid-oriented print-and-play escape room kit with a low-to-moderate level of difficulty for its audience.

Players moved from room to room in their home…er…spaceship, meeting new characters and solving a linear set of puzzles along the way. The puzzles involved searching, making connections, deduction, interacting with clever papercrafts, and a tiny bit of math. Players needed to be able to read well and to complete simple addition problems.

This experience required an adult gamemaster to provide hints, validate answers, and direct players where to go next. The game provided a β€œGame on a Page” single-sheet reference to support this effort, consolidating all of the solutions, dialogue, and hints. The game also included a more verbose Game Master Book that thoroughly explained each solution.

Analysis

βž• The puzzles were highly approachable for a standard kid audience, though they may be too simple for more experienced child puzzlers. That said, the latter group may enjoy this as a solo speed run, if you want to introduce that concept.

βž•/βž– Two puzzles benefited from outside knowledge though didn’t require it. However, for space-savvy players, this may inadvertently shift some of the gameplay from deduction to trivia.

βž• My kids were super impressed when the solution to one puzzle directed them to a specific location in our home. That kind of setup instruction helps transform kits like these from tabletop print-and-plays into immersive experiences, at least from a kids’ POV.

βž– It would be hard for some of these puzzles to entertain more than two kids at a time. Although this is a common issue in tabletop games for adults, it’s a bit more fraught with kids who are less adept at negotiating turns, especially under pressure. The gamemaster may be able to mitigate this with a motivating speech about cooperation and teamwork… after all, survival depends on it!

βž• The “great space escape” scenario was imaginative while still easily adaptable to common physical spaces.

❓ The story and artwork have a cutesy, cartoonish aesthetic. Some tweens may have outgrown this.

βž– Some minor details in the story were nonsensical. In particular, our space dad left us a set of clues and then explicitly warned us that one wouldn’t be useful. Why do you hate us, space dad?

βž• The kid-friendly paper manipulatives were the highlight of this game. As charmingly simple renditions of actual objects, they added a sort of cartoonish immersion to the experience.

βž• The game-on-a-page quick reference for the gamemaster made managing the game a breeze. Many thanks to Paper Adventures for adding the solutions this time!

❓ The game took longer to set up than to play. I found the extra effort to be worth it for the fun props. In retrospect, though, I wish I’d had each of my kids play the game separately to maximize the cost/benefit ratio. Speed runs for everyone!

Two children solving a puzzle that they had to cut into multiple pieces with safety scissors.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: To maximize the immersive aspects of this game, it is best to use six separate spaces in your home.
  • Required Gear: Scissors, glue, tape, chairs, and optionally a mirror
  • I would limit the team size to a maximum of three players to help ensure that everyone has enough to do during most puzzles.

Buy your copy of Paper Adventures’s Great Space Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Paper Adventures offered comped our tickets for this game.

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