Escape Room Tycoon is a board game created by Creative Game Games, and currently available on Kickstarter (for 1 more day!)
Style of Play:
- Tabletop game
Who is it For?
- Best for players with at least some experience in tabletop games
Required Equipment: You need a computer to play on Tabletop Simulator. If you back Escape Room Tycoon on Kickstarter, you’ll receive a physical copy that you can play on a table.
Recommended Team Size: 1-4
Play Time: There is no timer for this game. Expect a long time to learn the rules. The game itself can take 90 minutes or more.
Price: Back it on Kickstarter for €35 to get a physical copy of the game. MSRP is €55. Play now on Tabletop Simulator.
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
Escape Room Tycoon is a Eurogame board game.
In this worker placement board game, players each use their resources to make money, buy escape rooms, acquire customers through marketing, hire gamemasters, etc. In the process, players can trick opponents into having to spend more for certain things. Whoever has the most satisfied customers and therefore the most success after four rounds, wins.
It’s not an easy game to learn and understand. A YouTube tutorial helps, but it still takes some time to learn the rules.
Escape Room Tycoon is a game where the mechanics of taking turns are simple, but making choices is daunting. There are a lot of possibilities each turn, most of which seem potentially viable in the right circumstances. We felt like we would have to play the game many times before we had any kind of feel for the various strategies, which will be a plus or a minus depending on your preferences.
The theming is well-applied but does not mask the core gameplay. With very low randomness and no obvious catch-up mechanics, we liked that we felt in total control of our outcomes. But it did feel like the game was decided well before it ended, and there wasn’t much tension outside of decision-making.
If you have a good time cracking Eurogame puzzles, there’s some depth in Escape Room Tycoon to explore. But if you’re not someone who already likes to dive down resource management decision rabbit holes, you’ll likely want something more newbie-friendly.
Theresa Piazza’s Reaction
As someone who is a recurring attendee at PAX Unplugged, and has played her fair share of board games (favorites include: Pandemic Legacy, Gloomhaven, Ticket to Ride, Gizmos), this game is not for me.
It took 50 minutes of reading the rulebook to understand what gameplay might look like, but I wasn’t able to get started until I watched more than an hour of additional video content, as the manual doesn’t clearly explain the set up for a 2-person game, nor does it include examples of game play. Most people will need to watch a 40-minute board setup video, and a 60-minute live play video example to see what a turn looks like.
It seems that in order to reduce as much written language from the physical pieces of the game as possible, this game requires near constant consultation with the rule book. This definitely hamstrings the ability to play a strategy game in person, as until you memorize the icons on the cards, each player is looking up every image in the manual during their turn.
Getting past the initial setup and learning curve, there is no compelling reason this is about the escape room industry except for light skinning. I could easily see this game reskinned (and perhaps working better as) a restaurant tycoon game where instead of adding rooms to your escape room establishment, you add tables, the gamemasters become waitstaff, the person delivery accounting and HR tracks don’t change, and instead of enthusiasts preferring a certain type of escape room and getting out faster (something that didn’t make sense to me in the game) people could like the specific types of cuisine your restaurant offers.
I’m confident that like with so many board games, I could learn to like aspects of this game after some more play, but I don’t recommend it.
Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction
In this “worker placement” board game, we try to use our resources and create the most successful escape room business. As you can currently back this on Kickstarter, you can also try a demo on the Steam Tabletop Simulator.
At its best, the game includes pretty much all aspects of running an escape room business. There are YouTube videos that can teach you the mechanics. Reference cards remind you of all your possible actions on the board. There are many ways to victory and multiple valid strategies to get there. I especially appreciated the mechanism of how customers spend time in the rooms you acquire and how you could influence the price of resources for your opponents.
At its worst, the rules and the board itself looked overwhelming at first to a casual player. In fact, trying to get into the convoluted gameplay was confusing and frustrating, in my opinion, with too many rules and exceptions. If this were an escape room, I’d ask, “Where is the onramping?” But for a board game stuffed to the brim with content, I found that there was oddly nothing really revolutionary.
Unfortunately, I think this game is for board game enthusiasts who happen to like casual escape rooms, not for escape room enthusiasts who like casual board games. So don’t go into this with the wrong expectations, because this is not an escape room game. It’s much more of a business simulator with an escape room theme laid on top.
Note, there is only one more day left to back this game on Kickstarter. If this sounds like your kind of game, today is the day.