One box, two box, black box, blue box
Location: at home
Date Played: August 5, 2023
Team size: 1+; we recommend 2-3
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: about $32 plus international shipping outside Israel
BreakInBoxes are sets of three nested, locked boxes with puzzles printed on them. The puzzles are random and varied, they often require outside knowledge and associated research, and the sets we played leaned a lot on geography. Unlock all three boxes in a set, and you get a little collector’s item.
Of the nine sets available, we played Blue Box and Black Box. The former was presented as the intro level for adults at a “medium” difficulty level, and the latter was advertised as “difficult.” With some support for the internet-based puzzles, our kids (7 and 10) were able to beat Blue Box in under an hour. Experienced puzzlers could probably start at the “difficult” level. Indeed, we adults took a bit over an hour for Black Box, consulting the hints more than once. We found the puzzles to have some fun ahas but to also suffer from frustrating misdirections at times without much reinforcement to know if we were on track. The hints, in an effort to be language-agnostic, leaned heavily on pictures and sometimes seemed like their own mini-puzzle.
I’ve been wracking my brain to distinguish this experience from a set of printed puzzles or an online light puzzle hunt, but the box form factor here really didn’t seem to be important. Aside from giving us the time-honored thrill of unlocking some 3-digit locks, there’s no reason these puzzles couldn’t have been flattened. Actually, that’s not quite true…these would make an entertaining way to wrap a small gift, and the largest box was the right size for a child-sized hat!
Because these games ship from Israel and I live in the U.S., I wouldn’t personally pay the international shipping fee to explore the series further if only considering my own entertainment. However, if this cost weren’t a barrier, I would consider sharing more of the easier games with my kids, especially if I replaced the default reward with something they would like. I think the dual purpose of playing these game and then repurposing them as playable wrapping is the best argument I can make for the price.
Who is this for?
- Puzzle lovers
- Any experience level (different difficulty levels available)
- To wrap a small gift in puzzles for a friend
There was no story. It was just us against the box.
There was no setup, unless you count lecturing teammates on how to take turns holding a box.
BreakInBox’s Blue Box and Black Box were standard play-at-home escape games with low and medium levels of difficulty, respectively. Each box set consisted of three nested boxes. We solved the puzzles printed on the each box to unlock a 3-digit lock, gaining access to the nested boxes within.
Blue Box‘s puzzles involved observing, making connections, and recognizing formatting cues to help understand how to process the clues.
Black Box‘s puzzles involved divergent thinking, making connections, and researching possibilities.
As advertised on the website, extra resources were necessary to interpret the information.
➕/➖ The box unlocking mechanism was perhaps more fun than completing the puzzles on paper or on a web page, but I wished that the form factor had been more important somehow. I do think it would serve as a unique wrapping medium for a gift after playing the game.
➖ Both box sets that we played included an interactive component on the BreakInBox website that was difficult to manipulate and/or view on our phones. I later discovered that the product page advises using computers rather than phones, presumably for this reason. Alas, this advice did not ship with the games themselves, so we suffered a bit.
➕/➖ Even though the instructions advise players to use any and all sources to find information for these games, several puzzles required us to recognize a particular format to even begin our research. This yielded some pleasant ahas but also felt frustrating when we weren’t familiar with the format.
➖ The picture-oriented hints varied widely in helpfulness.
➕ Whatever you might think of the puzzles for a particular box, you get the consolation prize of three 3-digit locks!
Blue Box Analysis
➕ The puzzles were well-signposted across the faces of the boxes. It was straightforward but fun for both kids and adults to connect new discoveries with where to use them.
➖ One symbol clue has negative connotations in some cultures.
Black Box Analysis
➕/➖ Several of these puzzles required divergent thinking. When we stumbled upon the connection, it was invigorating. When we did not, it was deflating. I found the overall balance to be satisfying, but my teammate did not.
➖ These more difficult puzzles left a lot of room for error without feedback mechanisms to know if we were on the right track.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: A small tabletop or floor space
- Required Gear: Computer with internet connection, pencil and paper
Buy your copy of BreakInBox’s Blue Box or Black Box, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: BreakInBox provided media copies for review.