Posted in Escape Party

Captain Kidd’s Treasure – Escape Party

Children’s escape party print and play

A brand new escape party company has hit the online market in time for lockdown. Escape Party have launched with their first game, Captain Kidd’s Treasure and will be bringing another very soon. The game, aimed at those aged 8 and up has a pirate theme and we (as a family of 2 adults, a 7 and a 9 year old) set it up one afternoon to play as a team.

THE STORY

The year is 1699, the golden age of piracy, and the players are cutthroat pirates sailing the seas searching for gold. Having been given the chance to escape the life of piracy, by finding Captain William Kidd’s hidden treasure, the pirates head to his ship to begin their quest. As they enter the ships cabin the door slams behind them and they’re trapped…

Will they escape Captain Kidd’s ship, and can they find his hidden treasure and escape the life of piracy?

THE GAMEPLAY

Don’t be fooled by the name of the company. Although this would make a great party for any child, this is also an excellent way to entertain you and the family for an hour. The game relies on you to be able to print the game in full colour. Black and white will not work here as the game heavily relies on colour. It does mean you’ll need plenty of colour in your printer as there are 28 pages to the game play, not including additional instructions.

The game is split over 4 parts and everything you gather over parts 1,2 and 3 are needed to bring your game to a rousing finale. There are a number of puzzles that comprise each section and each are well laid out, understandable and fun to complete. I’d argue that the puzzles in challenge one are usual puzzle book types but as it’s designed for children in mind, these are the kind of puzzles they will get their teeth stuck into. Once past challenge one things start to get interesting. There is a genuinely clever map puzzle and the reuse of things from challenge one that makes a nice change to other print and plays. The gameplay in challenge 4 is particularly inventive and brings an element of physicality to the game. I won’t give too much away but we put the Nerf guns to good use!

The beauty of the game is that it doesn’t need an adult as GM. We decided to play it without having one and the companies website offers a place to enter answers and also hints for each puzzle. Checking the answers online negates the need for a GM and means you can all join in together. Again, unlike many print and plays, this is a really unique element and meant we really could enjoy it as a family.

DESIGN

The game has a huge amount of detail. I don’t think there is a single white space on any of the game pages. This means the game looks fantastic but also means that you are going to use a lot of printer ink. I’m torn between if the game limits its appeal because of the use of colour or if I applaud the designers from not scrimping on design to make it look fantastic. We’ve certainly played print and plays that are pure black and white but to have colour and it be such a vital part of the game is actually a really nice change. Be aware that due to colour, those who may suffer from colour blindness will need help. There’s a huge amount of work gone into making it look right and it certainly pays off here.

OVERALL

We had a very enjoyable hour playing Captain Kidd’s Treasure. The whole experience was pitched just right for its target audience and was engaging for everyone. Yes, kids at the lower end of the age range will certainly need help from an adult but who doesn’t love getting involved in an escape game right?

You can buy Captain Kidd’s Treasure here. At the time of writing, the game costs £15 to download. It also gives you access to a designer’s kit so you can tweak and change elements of the game to suit your own family.

Escaped: 51:56

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Please note: We did not pay to play this experience but this did not influence our review.

Posted in The Panic Rooms

CSI: Grounded – The Panic Room

Murder Mystery Escape Game

The Panic Room have always been up there with escape rooms in the UK and with lockdown in place, we were so pleased to hear they had decided to bring one of their games to us. CSI: Grounded was the first in a series of games The Panic Room are turning from their mobile games into an online platform. We gathered ourselves and friends (via Whatsapp video call of course), to see if we can solve the murder!

THE STORY

A man has been mysteriously poisoned on a flight, it must have been someone on board but who? Solve the puzzles and work together to find the who, why and how of this brand new detective mystery.

THE GAMEPLAY

Although the game describes itself as an escape room game I feel it underplays itself a little. Yes, it’s partially an escape room game but it’s also a full on murder mystery. This game is chock full of information and, unlike a physical escape room, also includes some nice red herrings in order to try and throw you off the scent. You need to be just as much a detective as you do an escapee. I don’t remember how many notes, numbers and motives we wrote down in the end, but one of our team definitely ended up with writer’s cramp!

The principle behind the game is simple. There are a series of locked cases, bags and envelopes that require a password to access. The game reveals the next password you need as you search the evidence. Its a very linear game but being online it would be difficult to create something that wasn’t. We found that the majority of the game play was pretty well signposted. If there were occasions where you might get a little stuck, the hints at the bottom of each page will certainly help. If you get really stuck, the last hint is the answer. We found the puzzles were fair but challenging and, at times, pretty inventive. We particularly enjoyed the interviews puzzle and thought is was a really ingenious way of creating something a little different. There was only one point in which we felt the signposting was a little off and this meant that when we looked at the clues we were still a little lost. When we finally reached the solution, we could see where it was coming from but felt it may have been a little lost in translation.

On the whole, gameplay was fair and flowed well. It shows the creativity of the industry and how they can overcome barriers when something so major is thrown at them.

DESIGN

The game is a web based adventure so over complicating the amount of data that needs to load can compromise design. The game has some really good use of technology as part of the game and these worked well. The overall look of the game’s interface was basic but the design elements that were integral to the game were well done. We did have a couple of issues with loading but refreshing the page solved these.

What has to be taken into consideration is that The Panic Room have put this together with limited resources and in a short space of time. To take something that exists in the physical world and translate it to the digital world and it still remain a great game is a remarkable feat and The Panic Rom should be applauded for their endeavour.

The game costs between £15-£20 depending on whether you manage to get the early bird rates or not. Bearing in mind you can have as many players as you want over different locations, the game offers real value for money.

OVERALL

We have a really enjoyable evening playing CSI: Grounded. Although not a overly taxing game mentally, it was tough enough to feel you had to work for your victory. We look forward to the other games The Panic Room are working on.

Escaped: 48:37

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Room The Game

Escape Room The Game – Prison Break

A play at home game

Escape Room The Game is a boxed game that consists of between three and four games depending on the version you have. Each game centres around the Chrono Decoder which works as an electronic countdown timer and puzzle unit. It is where you place the keys once you have the codes and also becomes useful during games as several puzzles need it to solve. Each game comes with three parts. You must complete the first part to proceed and, if you get stuck, there are around 8 clues to help. Each clue is time specific and when the decoder beeps you can take a look (if you need it that is). So, what about the games individually? We thought it was only appropriate to start with Virus.

THE STORY

The past few months you’ve been in prison and your sentence will keep you there for the next decade. You spend most of your day together with a small group of inmates. They protected you on your first day and you feel you can trust them. They’ve got your back and you tell them you’ve got theirs (for what that’s worth).

One afternoon you strike up a conversation with a fellow inmate and he tells you that a great mathematician, Walter Castle, used to live in your cell. He was transferred to another prison a while ago. Walter Castle was somewhat of a legend amongst the inmates. The prison director and guards were afraid of him. Not because he was big or strong, but because they were afraid that he would escape. A prison break would damage their reputation. They made up some lie that Walter got into a fight and beat up another inmate. Walter couldn’t beat up a fly but nonetheless they transferred him to a maximum-security prison across the country.

You’re not surprised to hear a mathematician used to live in your cell, as it explains all the numbers and weird puzzles on your wall.

The thought of freedom makes you very intrigued about all this strangeness in your cell. You wonder if it all belongs to some greater plan to escape from this hell you call home.

The few months you’ve spent in prison already seem like years and given the choice, you’d choose a life on the run over a life in prison any day. You convince yourself that escaping would be justice. You have been sentenced to ten years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. Ten years of your life with no hope of a future, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it hardly seems fair.

That evening, during lockdown, you tell your friends about what you’ve heard. You and your buddies turn the cell upside down and find closed envelopes hidden in the toilet. This information might just be the start of your prison break. The guards will reach your cell during rounds in one hour, could this be the opportunity of a lifetime?

THE GAMEPLAY

Prison Break is billed as the easiest of the three games. Having already played Virus and knowing how the game worked we expected to find this much simpler. It turns out that we thought this was harder than Virus. The level of difficulty with regards to puzzles remained the same but we found the signposting was slightly lacking in this game. Many of the puzzles were standard escape room staples but we found that Prison Break needed more of a mathematical brain. There were a number of times we had come to a conclusion which wasn’t right and at one point we did come up with a code that was entirely plausible although the game required you to use it in a different way. The game was not poor but we felt the flow was a little more stilted than our previous experience.

DESIGN

Design is vital to make this game work. The way it has been created means that at times the answer has been hidden in plain sight and on at least one occasion we became stumped when the answer was right in front of us. This is no fault of the game and really stands testament to how well is was designed. The game does immerse you into it’s world and the illustrations really help to tell the narrative.

OVERALL

Prison Break is a good game but falls slightly short of Virus. It’s not a bad game but some of the signposting did make it a little harder to progress.

Escaped: 53:51

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

We didn’t pay to play this experience but this did not influence our review

Posted in Escape Room The Game

Escape Room The Game – Virus

A play at home game

Escape Room The Game is a boxed game that consists of between three and four games depending on the version you have. Each game centres around the Chrono Decoder which works as an electronic countdown timer and puzzle unit. It is where you place the keys once you have the codes and also becomes useful during games as several puzzles need it to solve. Each game comes with three parts. You must complete the first part to proceed and, if you get stuck, there are around 8 clues to help. Each clue is time specific and when the decoder beeps you can take a look (if you need it that is). So, what about the games individually? We thought it was only appropriate to start with Virus.

THE STORY

What a time to faint! You swear you could kill your lab partner, but you know that won’t be necessary. The liquid that’s oozing out of the broken bottle on the floor will kill everybody in the room soon enough… There’s no time to play the blame game, you and your lab partners have to work together if you want to survive.

You’ve been working for Professor Felsman for some time now. He was not a nice man.

He showed no kindness whatsoever, but he was the best in this line of work.

The professor never left the lab if anybody else was in it and all the dangerous stuff was locked away. And not locked away in a normal kind of way, Professor Felsman was somewhat of a ‘conspiracy theory’ kind of guy. Always looking over his shoulder, afraid that someone was after his inventions. The only people he really trusted were his son and daughter.

His trust issues and conspiracy theories made it even stranger that he left that green bottle unattended that afternoon. He had left in a hurry, leaving his hat and jacket on the coat rack. The professor never went anywhere without his hat. He just yelled “put that bottle in the closet and whatever you do, don’t drop it”! Nobody knew what the professor was working on, but it was serious business. The only thing he told us was that it could do a lot of good in the right hands, but in the wrong hands it would change the world in a really bad way…

The hands of our lab partner definitely qualify as the wrong pair of hands. Three steps short of the closet nerves got the better of her. You knew you were in serious trouble as her eyes rolled back and she collapsed. It seemed to take place in slow motion as the bottle fell on the floor and the glass shattered all over the room. The fumes that came from the bottle filled everyone’s lungs immediately.

You quickly called the professor, but he seemed to have his own problems. He was running and breathing heavily. The only words you could make out from the bad connection were “idiots, dead in an hour, antidote, vault”. Then the line went dead. You called him back but it went straight to voicemail. You know there’s no time to lose and nobody in the world that can help you…

You shove the cart aside and see the vault, it’s locked. You try opening the drawers in his desk, only one isn’t locked. The stuff you find in the desk could prove to be vital, it’s your only hope!

THE GAMEPLAY

Many escape from home games are card or book based. Escape Room The Game takes it a step further and bring electronics to the game. Although all of the puzzles in virus are paper based, the added element of inserting keys for the code makes it a little unique. The game is very well signposted and we didn’t feel the need for clues. We made steady progress and this gave a real sense of achievement. Most of the puzzles we found through the game will be very familiar to enthusiasts and won’t cause too much of a problem to solve. There are a few clever ideas within the game which provides something a little different and the game play is entertaining enough to give an evening of fun for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

DESIGN

The game is very reliant on the design. There is a huge amount of work done here that is very important to immerse the players into the world of Virus. To us, the design element is what really raises the game. If it was a simple print and play then the game would underwhelm due to the simplicity of the puzzles but the design and physical interaction with several of the games items makes it a much more fun and interactive game.

OVERALL

Virus was our introduction to the world of Escape Room The Game. We felt is was a solid game and surpasses many of the other play at home games out there. The set, sold on Amazon for about £30 means an average of £10 a game which is great value for money. We’d certainly put these up there with the Unlock games and ahead of any Exit Games sets.

Escaped: 46:37

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

We didn’t pay to play this experience but this did not influence our review

Posted in Modern Fables

Modern Fables – Medogan

An online adventure game

We’d read some comments from others about Modern Fables take on the online escape/adventure game. We have to admit that we’ve not heard of them and being in London, they are a bit of a trek from us.

THE STORY

STRANDED IN YOUR IMAGINATION. The Modern Fables take on a pick-your-own-adventure played out in your mind. Can you uncover the secrets MEDOGAN has to offer? Can you escape the confines of reality?

THE GAMEPLAY

Modern Fables have created more of an adventure game than a traditional escape game but this doesn’t detract from the quality of what they have made. You will find that many free to play games (although they are asking for donations), are fairly basic affairs. The idea behind them is solid but the concepts are more simple. This is not the case with Medogan. In fact, we’d go as far to say as this is up there as one of our favourite adventures we’ve played so far during lockdown.

The game is episodic. At the time of playing we only had access to the first episode which brings our protagonist to the mysterious village of Medogan. Although set in modern day, the village gives of a very Midsommar vibe and the game gives snippets of details that makes you suggest something akin to Hot Fuzz is kicking off. The only issue, the episode finishes with more questions than it does answers. This certainly wets you appetite for the next instalment.

Gameplay is very much in the way of a detective story. We found that we’d written about 4 pages of notes with everything going on and these little titbits were extremely useful in order to solve the main puzzle of the game. But, what is so ingenious about this game is that it isn’t just text that you need to gather. It uses a series of your own technology in impressive ways to bring the story to life. I don’t want to give away what, you will just have to find out for yourself. I challenge you not to be as impressed as I was with one of the way in particular! Gameplay flows nicely and, as long as you read and listen to everything carefully, everything will slot into place. The game isn’t the hardest we’ve played but it will certainly keep you busy for an hour or so in order to work out what you need to put where. There aren’t any clues to the game but if you need a push in the right direction, you can contact Modern Fables by their Facebook page and they will send a suitably cryptic clue back. Also be aware that you need to access this game via a PC or laptop. It will not work on a mobile device. You’ll also need a way to listen to the sounds, its very important.

DESIGN

The game does have a large amount of text but this is key to the story. It also has a lot of visual elements too and the design of these are superb. It really immerses you into the world of Medogan. There has clearly been a huge amount of time and effort that has been put into creating this game. To have completed it in such a short period of time too is astonishing. If you don’t play another free online game during your lockdown, Medonga has to be the one.

OVERALL

A superb game full of intricate details, design and story. It really immerses you into the world Modern Fables are trying to create and is a genuine joy to play. It’s not only a phenomenal game, it also make us want to make the trip to London to play their physical games if the quality is anything like this one. We are looking forward to playing episode 2.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Room Puzzles

Escape Room Puzzles

An escape book

From the mastermind behind Deadlocked Escape Rooms James Hamer-Horton, comes a Puzzle book that ties in with their fictitious company, the Wexell Corporation. This book doesn’t just bring enough content for one game but gives you ten rooms to break out of.

THE STORY

Enter the world of Escape Room Puzzles, but beware… once you enter, you only have a limited time to solve the puzzles before time runs out and you are locked in forever! Become Adam Parkinson, a young investigative journalist, and join his conspiracy-theorist friend Henry Fielding as they take on the diabolical Wexell Corporation. You must guide Adam through 10 precarious rooms, solving the puzzles he finds in each one, discovering what Wexell are up to, and then escaping to the next location.

THE GAMEPLAY

First off, let me say that out of all the play at home games and books I have done, this has to be the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I’m playing an escape room. There is so much content in this book that it will give you hours of playtime and you could argue that each of the 10 rooms would take a minimum of an hour to complete and can be completed by a team rather than an individual. Like many other escape type books it is story driven and the entire thing plays out over the 10 rooms. The story is pretty good and the text you have to read is important to the story too.

Now, let’s move on to the puzzles. The one thing I applaud the book for is that it’s not created for the everyday man. The puzzles in this book are HARD. I mean REALLY hard. Some of the puzzles require a leap of logic and a number of the are really labour intensive. If you are looking for something to take you away a few hours, this isn’t the book for you. It requires a lot of thought, a lot of time and a lot of effort. It also requires you to manipulate the book at times. Some will want to photocopy pages, others will happily pull it apart.

Having applauded the difficulty, I think this is also its downfall. The book is so labour intensive it can take out the fun of the gameplay and it’s so difficult it means you hit a brick wall many, many times and you have to go for hints to make progress. I prefer a game that’s hard but not too hard that the hints are almost required to make your way through the game. Due to this, by the time we reached room 10, it was a case of getting it done rather than enjoying the experience.

DESIGN

The book’s design far surpasses the design of any other book we’ve played. There is really intricacies in the detail and the design is integral to many of the puzzles. It’s a real feat of design and adds to the feeling of it being the closest to an escape room we’ve played. Some of the design adds to the difficulty too.

OVERALL

Escape Room Puzzles is a bittersweet experience. By far the closest experience we have had to playing an escape room in a book but the mechanics of the puzzles let it down. If the same format had more straightforward puzzles, not easy, just straightforward this would have been a much, much better experience.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in The Escape Book

The Escape Book

An escape book

The Escape book claims to be the “First book based on the puzzles of Escape Rooms”. I’m not sure on the accuracy of their claims but having been published in 2018, it’s probably not far off. The book was originally written in Spanish before being translated into English a year later.

THE STORY

You’re an investigative journalist – and you’ve learned too much. Your mission is to escape the labyrinth where you have been trapped and expose the corrupt, high-flying businessman, Castian Warnes. This is no easy feat, but your life depends on it.

THE GAMEPLAY

The book itself is entirely story driven. The best way to describe it is if Saw was an escape room movie but it didn’t have the gore. That’s the kind of idea Ivan Tapia was going for. Instead of Jigsaw being the mastermind, it’s replaced with Castian Warnes, a voyeuristic businessman who watches as the protagonist, Candela Fuertes, makes her way through the labyrinth of puzzles. There are 17 puzzles in total, each of which give you the answer to the next page you need to turn to. Puzzles on the whole range for quick and simple to much more complex. None are out of reach of an experienced player but some may need a little help to get to the answer. Luckily, the book has a series of hints for each puzzle at the back of the book. Gameplay on the whole is good but to get through to the next puzzle you have to read a huge amount of story. There are times where you have to read six or seven pages of story in order to reach your next puzzle. It really is story overload and, at times, leaves you wondering why there is so much detail. All of the story in the book is superfluous to the puzzle solving too. It gives you some background as to the characters and gives the story purpose but it feels it’s a story first and a puzzle book second.

DESIGN

The book has a very clear colour palette of black, white and yellow and this is maintained throughout the book. The puzzles are clear and well designed although they are very blocky in nature. This means that they look more functional than realistic. It doesn’t mean they are any less of a puzzle just that the design means it is less like an escape room.

OVERALL

There is plenty to keep an enthusiast busy for a couple of hours if you aren’t bothered about getting bogged down in the story. One worthy of being in lockdown or musing over on a beach somewhere.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****