Escape rooms, one of the hottest new trends in entertainment, are a kind-of live adventure game. Participants are locked in a room or similar location and given usually about an hour to solve puzzles and follow a series of clues that finds the key and lets them out. Most are built around a theme or story and designed for groups of 4-6 friends.
But though escape rooms are popping up in many urban locations, they’re not accessible to many people, can sometimes be difficult to schedule, and can cost a hundred dollars or more for a 1 hour session. Enter several companies offering escape rooms to go.
Developed by Identity Games and licensed for North American distribution by Spin Master, Escape Room The Game is a $40 package due in the summer that can run 2-5 participants through four different rooms. The clues, puzzles, and mysteries for each room are contained in three envelopes. When participants believe they have solved an envelope, they choose one of the included keys and plug it in to the game’s electronic timer, called a “chrono decoder”. If they’re correct, they can move on to the next envelope. If not, the chrono decoder imposes a time penalty. Though the base game is not yet at retail, Identity is already at work on expansion packs, which should make use of the same chrono decoder.
Another at-home option, ThinkFun’s Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor, addresses the problem of hiding answers with a “solution wheel” rather than something electronic. The game begins with the reading of a scene card and proceeds along a story line. Every puzzle solved on the way leads to a symbol and those symbols have to line up in a certain way on the wheel in order to trigger the next stage of the mystery. Due in March, Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor is just a single room activity but is timed at 90 minutes and priced at only $22.
There’s also the Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment Kickstarter project. At $45, this one is also only a single room game. However, it is a more handcrafted experience with jars, locks, and other more substantial elements. Also, certain replacement parts will be available, so that the kit can be used to host other teams.