Escape Game Adventure: The Mad Hacker [Book Review]

A kid’s guide to drone repair

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-family

Duration: 15-60 minutes

Price: about $10

REA Reaction

Like The Last Dragon, The Mad Hacker was a lovely kid-friendly puzzle book with great art and a soft difficulty curve.

Cover art for the Mad Hacker Escape Game Adventure book.

While we preferred the setting of The Last Dragon, we felt that the puzzles of The Mad Hacker had a bit more charm and, in a couple of cases, depth.

For families, The Mad Hacker is a fantastic follow-on to The Last Dragon. If you’re a seasoned escape room player, this one still isn’t really for you, but if you’re going to buy one of the Escape Game Adventure books, it should be The Mad Hacker.

Story

We had been sent to the year 2394 to stop a super computer virus from destroying all of the world’s technology.

Art of a person entering a large, futuristic, building.

Analysis

The analysis in this section is about the content of The Mad Hacker. To see our analysis of the structure, refer to our Escape Game Adventure Books overview.

➕ The puzzles were thematic, varied, and age-appropriate. Of note, they leaned a little more heavily on logic than the puzzles in The Last Dragon.

➕ We enjoyed how one puzzle incorporated an additional step of reasoning before a standard style of process puzzle.

➖ One optical puzzle missed the mark and thus wasn’t really a puzzle at all. You just had to look at it.

Drone Language for Beginners guide, beside a few paper cut items.

➖/➕ With The Mad Hacker our ratio of time spent cutting out pieces to solving puzzles leaned a bit too heavily toward cutting. That said, the game used the cutout pieces well, which we appreciated.

➕ The art was thematic, detailed, and enjoyable.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pencil, scissors

Buy your copy of The Mad Hacker, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: we received a media sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Escape Game Adventure: The Last Dragon [Book Review]

How to train your dragon kid to puzzle

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 2020

Team size: we recommend from 1 to family

Duration: 15-60 minutes

Price: about $10

REA Reaction

The Last Dragon was an adorable, kid/ family puzzle book.

The castle cover art for The Last Dragon Escape Game Adventure book.

The art was inviting and the puzzles were appropriate for children.

Of the initial 2 Escape Game Adventure books, this one is probably an easier starting place for kiddos to learn on (but it’s not a massive leap in difficulty to The Mad Hacker).

If you’re an avid escape room player, there isn’t much here for you aside from adorableness and a shot of dopamine for a completionist’s brain.

If you’re a family looking to ease your kids into a love of puzzles, and dragons are your kid’s jam, give this one a read.

Story

The evil King Badking had stolen the last dragon egg! We had to recover it and return it to the mother dragon before it became an omelet.

Illustration of a castle just beyond a forrest.

Analysis

The analysis in this section is about the content of The Last Dragon. To see our analysis of the structure, refer to our Escape Game Adventure Books overview.

➕ Can we take a moment to appreciate the name “King Badking?”

A guide book with a Knight's Templar Code key, magcal flask volumes, and a color mixing chart in CMY.

The Last Dragon consisted of reasonable, age-appropriate, varied puzzles. Overall, the puzzles required enough process for kids to build mastery and feel that they had earned their wins.

➖ One puzzle lacked sufficient explanation for the image on the page. This one would spin more freely with more robust clue structure on the page itself and not in the hint section.

➖ One puzzle required us to cut out an intricate design. There was no reason for the cutting to be as precise as it was.

Dooz giving a thumbs up beside a length of rope.

➕ The art was adorable. It was vibrant, colorful, and fun.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pencil, scissors

Buy your copy of The Last Dragon, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: we received a media sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Escape Game Adventure Books [Overview]

Puzzling happily ever after.

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-family

Duration: 15-60 minutes

Price: about $10

REA Reaction

Escape Game Adventure books were family-friendly puzzle books with bold, beautiful illustrations and a light narrative. Each book represented an adventure through time and space to right a fantastical wrong.

The covers of both the Last Dragon & The Mad Hacker Escape Game Adventure books.

We’re in favor of anything that helps kids find a love of puzzling and using their minds to have fun. The Escape Game Adventure books comfortably fit that description.

They weren’t long or challenging. Their thorough approach to hinting and solution descriptions meant that anyone who wants to understand how a puzzle works can learn. Learning is what these books were all about. They would be a fantastic first step on a young puzzler’s journey.

Series Installments

Who is this for?

  • Kids & families
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Adorable
  • Gorgeous illustrations
  • Kid friendliness
  • Straightforward, but real puzzling

We’re going to publish short reviews of each book in the series. For the sake of simplicity and repetition reduction, we’re covering the basics in this overview.

Setup

Escape Game Adventure books were play-at-home escape games in a book format designed for kids ages 8 to 12.

While the individual Escape Game Adventure books each offered a unique story and puzzle set, they all followed the same structure.

Each book opened with a:

  • 1-page history of escape rooms, that references our data (but doesn’t cite us… we’ll live)
  • 2-page spread with the rules
  • 1-page narrative lead-in

To play, you’ll need:

  • One of the books
  • Something to write with
  • A pair of scissors

Gameplay

The core gameplay of the Escape Game Adventure books revolved around observing, making connections, puzzling, and scissor skills.

Each book was broken down into pages labeled in 3 colors:

  • Puzzles – Green
  • Hints – Red
  • Solutions – Purple
Green puzzle page indicator.

Puzzles – Green

While this escape room was presented in book format, we didn’t flip through the pages in order like we would with a traditional storybook. Each puzzle resolved to a page number, thus taking us to another page in the book.

Closeup of a graphical dogear.

If a puzzle took up more than one page, this was noted in lower corners with a graphical dogear.

At the back of the book there was an answer validation grid mechanism to verify that we were moving to the correct page, but we didn’t use it after the first puzzle. (Kids probably will use it.)

Hints – Red

Each puzzle had between 2-5 hints (usually 4) presented in order. The hints were well-structured and granular. If you need help, the hints will provide good nudges.

Solutions – Purple

The solution pages were graphical and outlined each puzzle step-by-step. Even if you cannot solve the puzzles, the Escape Game Adventure books will not leave you hanging.

Analysis

This analysis refers to the structure of play, which was standard across the Escape Game Adventure book series. Refer to the individual reviews for the analysis of the content of each book.

Dooz beside a time portal.

➕ We loved Dooz, the robot friend that aided us throughout our escape. His speech bubbles added character to the cluing and the hint pages. Dooz reminded me a lot of Babbage from the original Time Run games.

➖ The books opened with a text-heavy description and light history of escape rooms before leaning into the rules. This felt a little too long for the audience and gave us the bad impression that the books would overwhelm us with prose. Fortunately, they weren’t.

➕ The answer validation grid was an elegant mechanism to help kids confirm that they had solved the puzzle correctly and keep them on the right track.

❓ With the solution always a page number in the book, that limited the structures of answers (and would make back-solving easier.) This wasn’t inherently a problem, but may make the solutions start to feel repetitive over time, as the book series expands.

➖ The graphical dogeared page corner indicator that a puzzle continued on the next page was not eye-catching enough. We regularly struggled to notice them.

➕ The hint system was easy to find and clear to follow. The solution pages were separate from the hint system and just as easy to locate. Both hints and solutions were thorough and clear.

➖ The instructions did not mention that we’d need scissors. We definitely needed them.

➕ The Escape Game Adventure books included vocabulary lessons on many of the pages. A “Did You Know?” bubble told the reader some basic information about a thematic word that will likely be unfamiliar to kids.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pencil, scissors
  • Note that while you do cut pieces out to solve the puzzles, if you save the pieces and don’t write in the books while solving, you could give these to other players.

Buy Them Now

Buy your copies of the Escape Game Adventure books, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: we received media samples for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.