The Escape Game – 49ers Unlocked [Hivemind Review]

49ers Unlocked is a point-and-click adventure game created by The Escape Game in collaboration with the San Francisco 49ers.

Jerry Rice on video call.

Format

Style of Play: point-and-click adventure game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, mobile device

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: No time limit, and progress saves, so you can log out and resume later. Our reviewers took about 20-40 minutes.

Price: $10 per team

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

49ers Unlocked was a point-and-click escape game set in the San Francisco 49ers Stadium. The team’s Lombardi trophies had gone missing and Jerry Rice needed us to find them.

This is web-based game, with video instructions and a graduated hint system. Everything you need to know to solve the puzzles can be found within the game, but outside knowledge of the 49ers will help you solve more quickly.

Point & click interface for 49ers Unlocked. It is in red, gold, white, and black and depicts the team's stadium.

Hivemind Review Scale

The Escape Game & Amazon Prime Video – The Truth Seekers Remote Adventure [Hivemind Review]

The Truth Seekers Remote Adventure is a real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar, presented by Amazon Prime Video, powered by The Escape Game.

A bulletin board covered in documents, photos, and red string.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 45 minutes

Price: free

Booking: book online for a specific time slot, only through November 18

Description

After an introduction from a gamemaster, you are turned over to a “technician” who is just a pair of hands. Beyond that, it is you and your new hands in an escape room. The inventory includes 360 views of the room, as well as close up images of everything that you ask the avatar to scan.

Two views of the game spaces. They look like studies.

Hivemind Review Scale

The Escape Game Unlocked – Rogue Scientist 1990 [Hivemind Review]

Rogue Scientist 1990 is a digital point-and-click adventure game created by The Escape Game, based in Nashville, TN. It is part of their Unlocked brand of online escape rooms.

An old looking black and white digital interface with photos and names of professors.

Format

Style of Play: digital point-and-click adventure game

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection, mobile device (or other method of calling a toll free USA phone number)

The printer is not required, but it might make things easier.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: no timer, takes anywhere from 45-90 minutes

Price: $10

Booking: purchase and play at any time

Description

Some professors at a university are involved in dubious human experiments and you need to find out who they are and stop them.

This is a point-and-click game designed to look like you’re playing on an old computer. The game provides files for you to access and as you solve one level, new files are added. The gameplay is linear and straightforward. Several videos from the agency director are layered in between the levels.

A bald man looking into the camera, briefing the team.

Hivemind Review Scale

The Escape Game – Ruins: Forbidden Treasure [Hivemind Review]

Ruins: Forbidden Treasure is a digital adaptation of a real-life escape game created by The Escape Game, a national company based in Nashville, TN.

A view of a beautiful ancient ruins set.

Format

Style of Play: digital adaptation of a real-life escape game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This is a live virtual experience in which an in-person avatar explores the physical room on your behalf, following your commands. While watching the first-person experience via Zoom, you also have access to a web app that presents a 360-degree view of the room as well as an inventory of the objects you have collected. Each team member interacts with the app asynchronously, which enables effective parallel exploration.

A video of Captain Mac explaining the "Secets of the Ehlari." It's closed captioned, "...managed to remain totally isolated..."

Hivemind Review Scale

The Escape Game – Escape from Iron Gate [Review]

Playing by prison rules.

Location:  at home

Date Played: October 26, 2019

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 45-60 minutes

Price: about $44

REA Reaction

Escape from Iron Gate was quite the surprise and a breath of fresh air in a tabletop escape room scene that’s always riffing on the same “real-life escape room on your table” structure.

Escape Iron Gate's box featuring a prison and labeled, "The prison break party game."

The Escape Game’s take on the tabletop escape room was 100% competitive, not collaborative. It had a board-gamey feel to it. We moved our meeples through different areas of a prison, rolled dice, collected sets of item cards, and earned those cards through solving puzzles – and playing charades or Pictionary.

This was an approachable game. Whereas I find myself playing tabletop escape games mostly with puzzle people, I could play Escape from Iron Gate with almost anyone.

Moreover, as we played harder, we started to find more strategic depth than we’d expected.

The board set up, there are meeple in the cell block and a massive stack of puzzle cards.
There was no shortage of puzzle cards.

The main drawback to Escape from Iron Gate was that some (not all) of the puzzle types got stale. For example, if you’re an escape room veteran going in, substitution and pigpen ciphers aren’t going to throw you for a loop for even a second. We found ourselves disregarding these and drawing something else, which was fine.

I really enjoyed this game, and absolutely recommend it for families and friend groups. It was light-hearted, easy to learn, and varied. I truly liked that we weren’t just solving puzzles, or just playing Pictionary or charades. The constant flux of game modes kept things playful.

Moreover, this is a fully replayable game. We have replayed it and we will continue to do so. We’d love it if The Escape Game created an expansion with more challenging actions, puzzles, and a set of blank “create your own” action and puzzle cards. Personalization would add even more replay value to Escape from Iron Gate.

If you enjoy tabletop games, party games, and puzzles, you’ll enjoy their combination in Escape from Iron Gate.

Who is this for?

  • This is general audience tabletop game.
  • Avid puzzlers, talented drawers, and skilled pantomime actors will have some advantages.

Why play?

  • Humor
  • Flexible play
  • Some amusing puzzles
  • It had a lot more depth than initially appeared

Story

We had all been wrongfully accused of crimes and locked up in Iron Gate prison. Naturally, the only path to freedom was a puzzle prison break.

Close-up of The Yard with two meeple and a pair of large custom dice.

Setup

Escape from Iron Gate was a competitive tabletop game the blended a few genres into a unique experience with a party game vibe.

We aimed to collect sets of item cards that would allow us to bust out of different areas of the prison. We had to proceed from the cell block, to the yard, to the cafeteria, and finally to the warden’s office before achieving freedom (and winning the game.) Each area required each player to collect a unique set of items.

We earned item cards by solving puzzles, playing dexterity mini-games, and playing Pictionary or charades. Dice rolls and luck of the draw determined which games we’d play when.

The details are explained in this video:

Special Rules

If there was a gap in the rules or the group wanted to tweak the way things worked, we were encouraged to create our own prison rules. We quickly added our own rules and adapted the game to our play group.

The REA Rule: Whenever a player used a card set to break out of an area, that player had to tell the group a story about how they used each item to do the deed.

4 stages of gate cards.
Each player gets their own set of unique gate cards.

Gameplay

The Escape Game’s Escape from Iron Gate was a party board game with a puzzle-solving component and a moderate level of difficulty.

Unlike escape rooms, Escape from Iron Gate was a competitive (not collaborative) game.

The puzzles were drawn from a massive stack of cards and included a mix of spatial puzzles, logic puzzles, riddles, ciphers, and reasoning challenges. They were all contained on individual cards, so they were static.

Core gameplay revolved around rolling dice, playing charades, playing Pictionary, accomplishing mini dexterity challenges, searching, solving puzzles, negotiating, and planning ahead.

A gate card and its matching card set.
Accomplishing a gate card collection allows a player to advance to the next area.

Analysis

➕ The artwork looked great. We liked the matte aesthetic and the color scheme. Everything felt polished.

Escape from Iron Gate was easy to learn. The engaging rules video presented the game clearly. The rulebook included a full-page diagram of the sequence for a turn, which we found to be especially helpful while we got the hang of the gameplay.

Puzzle card examples including some wordplay puzzles, a cipher, and a reasoning challenge.
A few examples of puzzle types.

➕ The structure of actions, puzzles, and trading kept everyone continually engaged, even on other players’ turns.

Escape from Iron Gate was reasonably well balanced. For a puzzle game, it included quite a bit of chance, but that kept it interesting. Even with the chance, it felt fair.

➖ Some of the puzzles quickly became tasks (especially the ciphers). We could only have the aha moment the first time we encountered some of these puzzle types.

➕ Gameplay was funny. The whole concept was ridiculous. Escape from Iron Gate didn’t take itself too seriously… which encouraged us to laugh along with it.

Action card examples, including a pictionary card and a charades card.

❓/➕ Acting and drawing really didn’t fit the prison escape theme all that well. We debated whether the actions in the game were thematically relevant, but in the end it didn’t really matter to us because they were entertaining.

➕ The red filter hint/answer system was simple and effective. Additionally, hints mattered less in this game than most tabletop escape games because failure to solve a puzzle didn’t break the game.

➕ We appreciated how Escape from Iron Gate drew from escape room mythology, but stood alone as its own game. It was set in The Escape Game’s Prison Break. We enjoyed the nods to that game. In no way, however, did it feel like playing a rehash of that escape room (or any other tabletop game).

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: each player needs scratch paper and a pen
  • The Escape Game encourages players to make their own house rules. We embraced this whole heartedly. REA house rules included telling a story of how you used your items to pass each gate.
  • This would work well as a family game or a drinking game. We can see lots of great opportunities for adding drinking game rules.

Buy your copy of The Escape Game’s Escape from Iron Gate, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Escape Game provided a sample for review.

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