|Released||2016 (Kickstarter, hit the shelves 2017 I am pretty sure?)|
|Designer||Juliana Patel, Ariel Rubin|
|Publisher||Stay at Home Werewolves (Website)|
|Players||2 – 8 (maybe max out about 5 though depending on your group)|
|Playing Time||60 minute timer, give yourself 90 minutes to enjoy the experience in total|
|BoardGameGeek||View on BGG|
Escape Rooms are amazing, but you tabletop versions can’t always match a custom room. Or can they?
So the reviews lately have been doing pretty well with some great feedback, which I thank you all for.
Some feedback which has confirmed a little of what I was worried about is that while people have appreciated the how to play aspect and even the how to teach parts of my reviews, sometimes the why to play parts haven’t always been coming across.
So to help with this, I thought I would bring up a review I have been putting off for a little while – Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment.
Now I haven’t been holding off on this because Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment is a bad game – quite the opposite.
Short version – this is my favourite at home Escape Room game I have ever played, and waiting for the Kickstarter project to finish and deliver was worth every minute.
No, I have been holding off talking about it because how do you teach someone how to play an Escape Room?
So this review is going to be very different from what I have been doing lately, but only because of the nature of the game.
Now if you don’t like timed puzzle games, I would ask that you keep reading and maybe still give Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment a chance. There is no reason why you have to play with the timer in place, and there may still be a fun experience here for you.
When I have done Escape Rooms (and a few years ago I was lucky enough to playtest quite a few), different puzzles and layouts with secrets were always exciting to uncover. This feeling is a large part of what makes Escape Rooms so popular – finding the secret compartment in the wine rack is simply activating almost every reward area of players minds.
But doing this at home is hard – really hard. It is indeed achievable – games like ‘How to Host a Murder’ achieve this with the inclusion of roleplay, and hardcore players do indeed hide objects and clues in their homes.
And when you see the box for Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment, you can be forgiven of thinking the contents will be the same as Unlock! and Exit games – a bunch of cards or sheets of paper.
While it’s true that paper is involved, one of the first big changes made is actual physical puzzles and objects. Boxes are locked with varying locks and combinations, and there are other physical items that you will need to work out their purpose.
It’s this physicality that puts Escape Room in a Box above any other experience I have played. Sure, I have puzzle games with physical parts, but this is the first ‘game’ that I had to enter the combination in an actual lock to get to the next phase.
There is no way to describe the satisfaction of feeling the click of the lock opening and opening a metal box (plastic in the retail version) to find new contents.
And while the physical reward is incredibly close to the physical sensation of dedicated escape rooms, the puzzles involved were also generally similar as well.
Now the box describes 19 puzzles, and the solutions of three are obviously opening physical locks. If I could have gotten away without describing even this, I would have. But it’s pretty obvious when you look at the site and contents, so I don’t mind confirming this.
But the nature of all of these puzzles is many and varied. There are math style puzzles and word puzzles, and puzzles with multiple components to them. There are also other physical style puzzles that I don’t want to spoil here, but if you have players that are better with their hands than word puzzles they have vital roles to play as well.
If you look at the final image closely, you may even get a clue on the nature of some of the puzzles if you look carefully – but don’t. Really. If you are curious enough to be looking for that kind of information, this is definitely a game that you should just play.
I can say that many of the puzzles used are on par with many dedicated Escape Rooms, only adding to the ‘at home’ experience for a fraction of the price.
And that is another great part of Escape Room in a box – it’s cheap enough to just buy as a leap of faith, even if you just want a cheap way of seeing if you want to do a ‘real’ escape room.
Looking on Amazon.com.au, the first entry has Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment at AUD$40. If you are a prime member, it’s even free shipping! Careful though – there are also $55 entries, but honestly even at $50 this is a great experience.
Now, compare this to the Exit games – probably the closest escape room experience sales wise. These games are largely paper-based puzzles and are around $25 (plus shipping depending). Unlock! another puzzle series I enjoy but doesn’t come close to the escape room feeling is also around the $25 mark for a deck of cards.
Now compare this to a ‘proper’ escape room that you have to book in and time more carefully, and are locked into a timed experience. These rooms are generally around $40 per person. Now generally speaking they are worth it – but if you aren’t sure, Escape Room in a Box is the best home version to give it a go!
The only downside is two years later I haven’t heard of a second game coming from the designers. That’s it – I just want to play more games from Ariel Rubin and Juliana Patel – this was an amazingly fun experience!
Now the game can indeed be reset, and with the Kickstarter I got a reload kit to accomplish this. These kits I believe are still available for the retail version as well.
But there is a bonus I didn’t have as an option with the Kickstarter game I played last year. It’s a small and niche addition, but it is a great option as well.
Simply – there is an Alexa Skill available for Escape Room in a Box now! Just like in an Escape Room with a walkie-talkie or phone for help, you can have Alexa take over this role assuming you have the tech already.
It’s a small bonus, but it’s a great addition overall that I hope more games like this begin to tap into.
I am someone that really enjoys Escape Rooms and similar logic puzzles, but it isn’t something I could always organise as a group to go and do.
While I am a fan of the Unlock! series and a couple of similar at home escape room style puzzle games, Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment is truly the closest to an at home experience I have come across.
And compared to the cost of some other experiences, the higher cost is immediately justified with actual locks, puzzles and the like – not just envelopes of paper puzzles to tear and fold for different answers.
If you enjoy a good puzzle, do yourself a favour and grab a copy of Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment. Even if you don’t want to try and stick to the hour time limit, sit and enjoy a great night in with some friends – you won’t regret it!