Episodic print and play game
With the country under near on lock down, we chose to take on a different kind of escape challenge with games from Escape Team.
The premise of each episode of the Escape Team series is that you have got to solve and prevent some kind of disaster that a dastardly villain has placed you in the thick of. Scenarios range from trapped civilians in a lift to the usual defuse a bomb situation. The 5 missions are Central Station, Terminal, Elevator, Roller coaster and Subway
The game play is straight forward and simple. You need a printer, scissors, tape and the Escape Team app. A craft knife could also be useful for some of the more fiddly bits of the game. None of it requires any craft ability at all. Each game is played in phases using the game’s app that is available on both Apple and Android. This app, which tells the missions’s story, is where you input the codes once you have worked out the puzzles. Each time you must enter the codes in the correct order although people can work in the puzzles in whichever order you wish. The app will also give you hints if you get stuck but be aware that it will only offer hints for the phase you are currently on. Stuck on phase 4? You won’t get any clues until the first three phases are complete. The Escape Team website allows you print off the puzzles for all missions and both the training game and first mission are free to play. The app then allows you to purchase the next 3 mission for 99 cents (about 75p at the time of review).
Rather than talking about the experience as a whole, I want to break down each mission as we played.
The training game gives you a 10 minute limit. It is three phases which really show just what Escape Tame is about. None of the puzzles are over complex and enthusiasts will complete them fairly easily. This isn’t the point though, the idea is to get you acquainted with how the game and the app work.
Mission 1: Central Station
This is the first full mission and comes in 5 phases. Each puzzles is different to the previous and allows you to spread them out and working on them individually. It pays to read the instruction and during this this mission we discovered the importance of using a pencil and having a rubber handy. Either that or have the printer handy to print off another copy if you make a mistake. There are 5 excellent puzzles here and each proves a little bit of a challenge for the 15 minute time limit.
Mission 2: Terminal
This is the first of the paid puzzles available from the Escape Team app. Again, it comes with 5 phases which have a series of different puzzles. We found this one a little easier than mission 1 but this could have been because we had worked out the way the games had been designed but also because some of the puzzles are classic escape room fare. This doesn’t detract from the game at all. If anything, it gives you a real sense of achievement as you look at it immediately and get straight to work. We completed the 20 minute escape with about 9 minutes to spare. A decent way to spend 75p of your money.
Mission 3: Elevator
It was mission 3 that we saw the difficulty begin to increase. Some of the puzzles here are much trickier. Both in their puzzles but also in your dexterity. One puzzle did frustrate us but I guess that’s why this one has a 30 minute timer. We definitely used more clues with this one and only just escaped within the time frame. Puzzles really do require some thinking and here, if you have more than the team of two we had, it would be an advantage. Just like the previous missions, this one is worth every penny. I think it’s important to note here that you don’t have to complete the missions in order so you can dip in and out at any point you wish.
Mission 4: Rollercoaster
Rollercoaster has a real mixed level of difficulty. Some of the puzzles are reasonably easy and will only take you a few a minutes to complete but others will really tax your brains. The mission is designed so that the easier ones come in later phases which means you’ve got to solve the hard ones first to make progress. This mission also has my favourite puzzle of the series. Very simple but very clever to use the simple tools you have in order to get the code you need. Rollecoaster is a decent game that will use most of your 30 minutes. Just make sure you have someone maths orientated in your team, you’ll need them!
Mission 5: Subway
The final mission available from Escape Team takes place below ground, This time, save the subway and the people on board. This is the hardest of the 5 missions. Each of the 5 phase puzzles does take some time to complete and there is one particular puzzle that could give you a series of different answers depending on how you approach it. Phase 3 was a clever concept but also stumped us for some time before the hints really helped. It did mean that we were very low on time by this point due to the ambiguity of phase 1. Still, a clever mission and one enthusiasts will enjoy.
Make your own escape
It would be remiss of me not to mention one element that Escape Team have on their website and that is the ability to use the app and website in order to create your own escape game. There is also a forum on here that allows others to upload there and you can have a go at them for free!
The game is designed to be in black and white in order to save your ink. The quality of the design is excellent and its clear that this hasn’t been done in Microsoft word and rushed together. There has been some really design work done and, with some of the intricacies with puzzles, its obvious time has been taken in order to design the puzzles carefully. It’s a print at home game that has a really professional feel to it. Everything you need is clear and obvious and the design makes the gameplay a pleasure.
For a series of missions that would cost you a small fraction of a real escape room (even with your own printing costs), Escape Team have created something that is real value for money. This will easily fill a couple of hours of your time on an afternoon or evening. When was the last time you got 2 hours of entertainment for less than a fiver?