Spy Code – Operation Escape Room [Review]

Mission Reasonably Challenging if you’re like 7.

Location: at home game for ages 6 and up

Price: $29.99 + 2 AAA batteries

How it works

Operation Escape Room was one of three Spy Code games on the market targeted at ages 6 and up. While the other two Spy Code games take inspiration from lockpicking and safe cracking, Operation: Escape Room was purely designed as a kids play-at-home escape game for up to 4 players.

Operation: Escape Room was also a more substantial game than the other Spy Code installments. It was broken up into 4 main components that could be spread around a room:

The bomb-like timer strap down device.

Timer Strap – This bomb-esque device functioned as the game clock ticking down until either we won or time expired.

A grated cage with a spinner arrow on top, a key inside, and a pair of sticks beside it.

Key Cage – This was a dexterity challenge. We flicked a spinner to determine a difficulty setting and then used a pair of sticks to extract the key through a hole in the cage.

Quiz Master: A red tube with input for a 3 digit number and a letter answer. A key is protruding from its side. An array of corresponding puzzle cards are fanned in front of it.

Quiz Master – We drew puzzle cards of varying difficulty and then input the answers into a nifty analogue answer checker. 3 consecutive correct answers earned another key. Get one wrong and the key dramatically retracted back into the device, requiring us to start over.

A wide, doored spinning device. 3 doors are flipped open two have arrows pointing left, the furthest left door has a key within it.

Lucky Spinner – We spun the device and then chose windows to flip open. Most windows provided clues to help deduce which window held the key.

Puzzles

Each puzzle offered a different challenge:

The Key Cage required some spatial reasoning and a whole lot of dexterity.

The Quiz Master’s puzzle deck had a mix of multiple choice challenges including:

  • Basic counting
  • Which of these does not belong
  • Path following mazes
  • Basic mathematical reasoning

The Lucky Spinner was essentially a game of luck and deduction (in that order).

Standouts

The Quiz Master device was amazing. This completely analogue tech was incredible to operate. As the key pushed out with each answer it made me want to get another one right. If I got one wrong, the key safely yet loudly snapped back into the device. The interaction was fantastic.

The Key Cage was an honestly difficult challenge, especially when I had to remove it from the two harder slots. This was by far the most challenging puzzle in all of the Spy Code games.

The Timer Strap worked well as a game clock, and its ultimate release felt satisfying.

Operation: Escape Room is effortlessly replayable.

There was about 5 minutes worth of assembly and rule reading. It was straightforward. Assembly required a Phillips screwdriver and 2 AAA batteries.

Shortcomings

The Lucky Spinner felt a little too rooted in chance for my taste. There was a bit of deduction, but it was basically puzzle roulette.

Spy Code Operation: Escape Room box features cartoon kids solving puzzles, and one kid in a chair sweating with the

It’s your call if this is a shortcoming, but I feel like I need to call it out: The countdown timer looked like a bomb… with a strap… that was meant to be worn by a player. The documentation for Operation: Escape Room never called it a bomb, but it also required no imagination to make the leap. This doesn’t bother me, but some of the parents that I showed the game to side-eyed this component.

Should I buy Spy Code Operation: Escape Room?

Operation: Escape Room was a lightweight, inexpensive (when compared with real life escape rooms) way to introduce kids to adventure puzzling. It established the spy theme, and ran with it in an entertaining 15-minute game.

It is also possible to take this game and augment it with your own puzzles. You can tweak the challenge, add more time to the clock, and toss in more content if you want to refresh it. Personally, I hope that Yuzu, the maker of Spy Code, finds success with this game and issues expansions or sequels. There’s a lot of opportunity in the game structure.

If your kids are too young for escape rooms, but they keep feeling left out when you go to play, Operation: Escape Room could be just what you need to bridge the gap and open them up to a puzzle world that is broader than the jigsaw variety.

Order your copy of Spy Code Operation: Escape Room today.

Full disclosure: Yuzu sent us a free sample of this game.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.)

Spy Code – Break Free [Review]

Chain up the kids for a few minutes.

Location: at home game for ages 6 and up

Price: $19.99

How it works

Break Free was one of three Spy Code games on the market targeted at ages 6 and up. Inspired by a combination of escape rooms and lockpicking, this game allowed up to 4 players to compete in navigating blind maze puzzles.

4 Break Free handcuffs chained together with their picks beside them.

Each player secured a cartoonish plastic puzzle handcuff around their wrist, loaded it with 1 of 12 different puzzle inserts, and then used the “pick” tool to blindly feel their way through the maze. The first player to reach the bottom of their maze, hit the actuator, and pop open their handcuff received maximum points.

Break Free handcuff beside a pick, all of the maze disk inserts, and the corresponding point tokens.

The maze inserts came in easy (green), intermediate (yellow), and advanced (red) difficulty levels.

Puzzles

Break Free was a competitive puzzle game through and through.

It felt like a competitive, kid-friendly version of other blind maze games like Inside Cubes or the expensive but fantastic Revomaze line of puzzles.

Standouts

Each of the 12 puzzles was entertaining to play on its own, especially the 4 advanced mazes. They weren’t too difficult, as they were designed for quick solving by children.

It was easy to swap the puzzles.

While Break Free taught absolutely no practical lockpicking skills, the concept of feeling around in a lock for feedback did translate.

When I opened a lock, it popped with a satisfying noise.

Shortcomings

If your kid becomes obsessed with Break Free, it would be pretty easy to memorize the limited number of patterns on the 12 different mazes.

Should I buy Spy Code Break Free?

Break Free was surprisingly fun to tinker with as an adult. It was not hard at all, but it still poked at that part of my brain that likes dexterity challenges and building mastery. I ran through all of the mazes in a couple of minutes.

I could easily imagine my younger self loving this game. I’m pretty certain that I would have played it as a tabletop game a few times, then tossed the instructions, merged it with my spy kit, and found new ways to incorporate it into whatever espionage silliness I was imagining at 8 years old. (It probably would have involved dinosaurs too.)

Break Free was easy to set up and simple to play. It built dexterity. If all of that seems appropriate for your child, order your copy of Spy Code Break Free today.

Full disclosure: Yuzu sent us a free sample of this game.

(If you purchase via our Amazon or Target links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.)