Room-in-a-box, Aug 2017
Lock Paper Scissors do ‘escape game kits’, primarily intended so that you can host an escape game for friends or family, with materials provided on a print and play basis. They currently have four available aimed at different ages, with Escape Room Z being the one for adults. It has a zombie theme, handled in a thoroughly light-hearted manner – ‘adult’ does not mean there’s anything graphic or gruesome here.
Nonetheless, it is in fact listed as the ‘Extreme Challenge Adults Kit’ or the ‘Ultimate Escape Challenge’. I don’t remember it having quite such an intimidating billing when I originally saw it on the site, so I suspect the label has been beefed up following feedback about how hard the game is.
And it’s satisfyingly difficult. The game cards provide a variety of clues with few hints to where to start or how to approach the puzzles, or even how to identify the puzzles. With careful inspection answers begin to emerge.
There are arguably only three puzzles in the game. Each of these consists of multiple parts though, so the game isn’t nearly as light on content as that might sound; and it finishes with a bit of fun silliness that doesn’t tax the brain but rounds off the game and helps defuse any frustrations from the puzzles.
As with Lock Paper Scissors’ other products, the game materials provided are intended only as a starting point. You can play the game exactly as-is around a table, which is what we did, but it’s designed for customisation. The instructions encourage you to swap item cards for real life versions of those items, for example, as well as hiding game cards to introduce a search requirement and sticking cards up in appropriate locations around the play area – and perhaps extending it with additional puzzles and tasks too, if you feel inspired to do so.
On that basis it’s an excellent product, and the game would work best when used in that way. As a simple play at home game it’s a bit unpolished. Not in the artwork, which is excellent, but in the structure: for example, we completed one puzzle and weren’t sure if we’d missed something since there was no verification mechanism provided; and we completed another which ought really to have been contingent on us solving other puzzles first. Similarly, there was an unexpected need for a QR code reader at one point, and for scissors at another. These would not be an issue if the game were played as a home party, with a host smoothing over the cracks as the players came to them; but it made the unhosted play-at-home option a bit of a bumpier ride.
Even more than their Rebel Revolt game, this is one I’d keep for the home party use case. If you want a home escape game to puzzle through, you’re better off looking elsewhere; if you want to give some guests a silly but challenging set of zombie puzzles, and particularly if you’re up for customising and personalising the game contents, then this is a good choice. Just be prepared to give the players some hints to help them through!