3 Options for Playing an Escape Room at Home
Escape rooms boomed out of no where a few years ago and have been a fast growing trend. I’m not 100% sure they are here to stay, so time will tell on that one. However, lately the tabletop arena has been rushing to get in on the escape room action. While a tabletop game is never going to replicate the experience of being locked in a room, as it lacks that tactile experience of searching a room and manipulating objects, escape room board games can still provide for an entertaining gaming session.
Today we are going to look at three great options should you want to do an escape room on your tabletop. Right now your best options are Exit: The Game, Unlock!, and Escape Room: The Game. We will take a look at each in turn and quickly point out some of their pros and cons.
3 Options for Playing an Escape Room at Home
Exit: The Game
Published by Kosmos, Exit: The Game was recently nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres award. Games of Exit use a card system and a decoder wheel to run the game. Players trying to solve a puzzle will be given a 4 digit code that is inputed in the wheel, which will then lead them to a card in the answer deck. That card will then either lead them to a new puzzle card or a wrong answer card sending them back to the drawing board.
The best part about the Exit series has to be the creativeness of their puzzles. While we are going to avoid spoilers here, I can say that the Exit designers really got clever with their puzzles, much more so then the other games.
Yet on the other hand, their card system was one of the worst of the series. There is a ton of shuffling cards in and out of the decks and it feels really archaic, especially compared to the other games. In one of our plays, a player remarked how it took her out of the experience having to constantly put cards in and out of the decks.
The other issue with Exit is that you destroy components as you play. You’ll be cutting up cards and drawing on other cards and booklets. While every escape room game is a one and done experience, Exit is the only game you have to toss in the recycling bin after you play. You can’t even give it to a friend or trade it away. While that did let the Exit series get way more wacky with their puzzles, there was a definite trade off.
Published by Space Cowboys (now part of Asmodee Games), Unlock! is notable because it integrates with a digital app. Cards are still the main focus of the game here, but the only thing included are the puzzle cards. The app will not only act as a timer for the game, but it will also provide hints when necessary, thematic music, and also have you inputing numbers. If you happen to input a wrong number, the app will dock you some time, which is there to deter players from brute forcing an answer like they could in Exit.
The other benefit of the app is that it can incorporate sound into the puzzles. Once again, avoiding spoilers, every game I’ve played of Unlock! so far has incorporated audio into a puzzle in some form or another.
The downside of Unlock! is that their puzzles seem a bit more vanilla compared to Exit. They are not bad by any stretch, but they also don’t get as creative with their outside-the-box thinking. Still, Unlock! is easy to put back in the box and share or trade away when you’re done. So even if you can’t play it again, you can certainly share it with others, making it a game where you and a group of friends can easily each buy one and swap around when you’re done. And who knows what Space Cowboys has in store for the future, the app integration opens up a world of possibilities.
Escape Room: The Game
While Exit may have been full cards and Unlock! chose app integration, Escape Room: The Game decided to include their own unique device. They call it the “Chorno Decoder” and it’s a device that, once you put batteries in it, will not only act as a timer for the game, but will have you interacting with it. Each Chrono Decoder has slots for 4 keys that need to be inserted during the game. The game comes with 16 keys, so players will be using the puzzles to figure out which keys and in what order they need to be placed.
The Chrono Decoder probably makes Escape Room: the Game the most unique of the bunch. The device is definitely a gimmick, but it does help it stand out from the others and can serve a purpose.
The other plus is that Escape Room: The Game comes with 4 different scenarios in the box, vs the other two game’s single scenario. However, Escape Room: The Game does cost over twice what the others do, so there is a bit of a trade off if you are looking to try it out.
The puzzles in Escape Room: the Game were solid, at least as good as Unlock! but not as clever as Exit. Plus the amount of puzzles in this one isn’t as high as in the other two. And while the Chono Decoder is neat, it’s function could have easily been replicated in an app like Unlock! did.
So there you have it, three solid options to play an escape room at home. Each one has their pluses and minues, so choose the one that feels right for you. Personally, I’m sticking with the Unlock! series as I think the app integration offers the most potential for the future. Plus, I like that I can easily share the scenarios with my friends (or trade them away) when I’m done.
Finally, keep an eye on Escape Room in a Box that should be hitting our shores this fall. This Kickstarter funded game promises actual locks and other physical components that could really provide the most unique experience of all.