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Escape room games


So in Podcast #55 (start at 3:25), Quinns mentions escape room in a deck, Unlock. He also suggests that, among the many escape room games, Unlock is the one to get, though he bases that on a google search rather than playing them. Can anyone who has played one or more of these games describe / compare them?

By the by, we’re going to try our first irl escape room this Sunday. But it was a bit of a faff organizing it, and it isn’t cheap, hence me looking at alternatives.


Activities for board game / puzzle / mystery enthusiasts

I love escape rooms, and have done around a dozen up and down the country. I can’t get Unlock! because I don’t have a device with Android/iOS, but have played Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor. You’re given a short description of a scenario, and then a series of envelopes with pictures on the outside, to show different objects in the manor. Some puzzles are on the outside of the envelopes, some inside. There’s a codewheel for checking your answers before you open the packets. I could see how the format might work, if done well, but the puzzles were laughably easy, to the point that there was no interest or challenge. For reference, my group completed the game in 20 minutes, recommended time 90 minutes.


On the latest episode of Last Place podcast, Efka compared Unlock and Exit the Game. The summary seems to be Unlock is more streamlined, but Exit is more creative (destroying parts of the game is essential to solving puzzles). So with Unlock at least you can lend it to friends to try afterwards, but sounds like the legacy aspects of Exit stop it being replayable. He also said to be very wary of using the hints provided in Exit, as some of the first hints (that are meant to be the most vague with no spoilers) actually contained game destroying levels of spoilers in one case.


I am also very interested in this as I’d consider buying something like Unlock for team-building at work, but I’d want it to be replayable so that multiple teams could use it.


While we were waiting for our escape room to start, I chatted with the people who run the room about the games on their shelves (pretty standard selection of game you’d find in SU&SD or BGG). They said they had trouble with Escape Room: The Game because it uses this system that involves these keys, and sometimes the keys don’t work. So you think you’re messing something up, but all this time it was just the key that’s messed up. He also mentioned something about not being able to advance to the next stage until a certain time had passed.

As for Escape the Room (really wish they chose more distinguishable names), he liked them and said there are ways to reset the game so other people can play them.

Meanwhile, my coworkers and I did an hour escape room in about half an hour (though we were given two hints). The theme was we were in a bureau that sent an agent to infiltrate a company. But he went missing, so we were sent in to recover the documents he had collected. I feel like I was only aware of half the stuff that went on. While I was playing with a decoder set, other people were playing with polyominos, bits of tape, and unlocking secret rooms, etc. I would find a key or some clue, hand them off to someone else, then go find something else to do. It was fun, though I wish my coworkers stuck around longer to debrief or something.


In case anyone stumbles upon this thread later, Quinns posted a comparison of EXIT: The Game and Unlock!.


I like Unlock! , enough to make my own expansion for it. I bought it for my games club so needed something which is replayable. As for the difficulty, there are a couple of puzzles which made us think , but the hidden numbers turned out to be the most obstructing part.


Here’s another escape room game to consider: the “Werewolf Experiment” is the first in a series of planned “escape room in a box” games, and it looks pretty hands on with physical puzzles and actual padlocks (for that traditional “what, another padlock???” feeling :wink: ). I backed this on Kickstarter and it’s about to be sent out soon, happy to report back when I’ve had a chance to play it.


You can find the original Kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/361817408/escape-room-in-a-box-the-werewolf-experiment


Looks like Unlock 2 is on the cards.


It’s interesting that they are selling refill packs for their game. Quinns’ issue with EXIT is that you play it once then have to recycle the whole lot. Having a refill pack doesn’t allow you to play the game again, but you at least get to sell it or give it to another group to play again. It’s a nice compromise.


Yes, I can confirm that Unlock! is definitely replayable, have passed on my first box to pastures new. You do need the app to play though.

Some of the hidden numbers in Unlock! were so small I literally could not see them even when I knew where they were, so a magnifying glass may be helpful for those more far-sighted amongst us.


Tried Exit the Abandoned Cabin with my friends over the weekend, our first Escape Room experience… wonderful fun had by all four players and a couple of unforgettable, spine tingly moments of exhiliration.

I’ve got the first three Unlock scenarios to try out soon.


Played the Wizard of Oz Unlock yesterday, and it was really really good. It tries a lot of new things with the formula and they work, with a bit of pointless ambiguity over the final puzzle the only sticking point. But otherwise fantastic, and a must play, especially if you thought the genre was getting stale.


I finally got the chance to play my copy of Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment. We did it 4 players, and I think everyone had fun.

We then played Unlock! The Island of Doctor Goorse. We stuck in a couple places, wondering how to move forward or what we were or were not permitted to do. It was a disappointingly frustrating.

I think the lesson here is that the primary goal in choosing a game should be finding a well-tested game at the right difficulty, and reusability should be secondary concern.


I had the same issue with the second Unlock! box (Mystery Adventures).

To avoid spoilers: Multiple times it gave me a generic item, and then punished me for trying it out with things it made logical sense to try them out on… then later showed an option of a bunch of stuff which from past experience I assumed meant I was meant to work out the proper one to choose, when actually I had to select them all for lots of different tools and clues. It felt like it was constantly moving the goalposts and didnt give any lenience to experimenting and trying things out. With only three games in the box, there’s not enough room to teach you the in-game logic AND let you enjoy it.

Then there’s the hints that go from describing what you can already see in front of you to ‘this is the answer’. Neither of those two things are hints!!!

Added to that the number card system which meant I was constantly thinking I must have missed something important when something didn’t make sense (nothing works, am I not getting something or have I completely missed an important card?!), and puzzles that meant I had to use cards in unusual ways without giving any indication of what I had to do (one puzzle in particular I was trying in one way for a good few minutes before I realised I was meant to be that thing in a similar but slightly different way). The tutorial does nothing to prepare you for the in-game logic or mechanics! Found it immensely frustrating.


Just played the pirate Unlock! game. It’s definitely better than the other two in the box, but still suffered from the problem of puzzles either being too obvious or not obvious enough. There weren’t enough having ‘ah-ha’ moments for me.