Which room-in-a-box should I buy?

All of them, of course! Oh, you want to know which you should buy first? Fair enough then.

  • Unlock! is overall my personal favourite so far, despite being too trigger-happy with time penalties.
  • For an easier story-driven game, try one of the ThinkFun games or (particularly if you want a portable option) Deckscape.
  • For a challenge, try KOSMOS Games’ Exit series.
  • For escape room parties, especially for customisable or kid-friendly / teenager-friendly options, check out Lock Paper Scissors.
  • For a special occasion, consider the rent-a-suitcase games from Red House Mysteries or Escape Game Products, or one of the many mobile escape games.

For full details of the main commercially available games, see below. Game names link to my reviews, where I’ve played them.


Escape The Room

Publisher: ThinkFun
Games: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor, Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat
Cost: Around £15 per game, sold individually.
Players: Officially 3+, 1-3 recommended.
Length: 60 mins per game, with a time extension for the final puzzle.
Replayable?: Yes, with instructions for packaging it back up again. Components may suffer on repeated play.
Buy this if: you want a more moderate difficulty level, or like a good amount of story text. Stargazer is easier, Dr. Gravely has a darker storyline and some physical entanglement puzzles.


EXIT The Game

Publisher: KOSMOS Games
Games: The Abandoned Cabin, The Secret Lab, The Pharaoh’s Tomb
Cost: Around £13 per game, sold individually.
Players: Officially 1-6, 1-3 recommended.
Length: 60 mins per game, but can easily take longer unless you do very well!
Replayable?: No (unless you take great pains to avoid marking or damaging the destructible sections).
Buy this if: you want clever, challenging puzzles. My favourite was Secret Lab, but the quality is consistent across all of them.


Unlock!

71m3AWN84GL._SY355_

Publisher: Space Cowboys (Asmodee in the US)
GamesThe FormulaSqueek and SausageThe Island of Doctor GoorseThe Elite (30 mins)
Cost: Around £28, sold as a single box of three scenarios; or $15 per game individually in the US. The Elite is free to print and play.
Players: Officially 2-6, 1-3 recommended (2-4 for Dr. Goorse)
Length: 60 mins per game, with time deducted for mistakes (30 mins for The Elite).
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you want an all round good set of card-based escape games; try the free download of The Elite to get a taste, though the full games are superior.


Escape Room The Game

ER_Doos.png

Publisher: Spin Master / Identity Games
Games: Prison BreakVirusNuclear CountdownTemple of the Aztec
Cost: Around £50, sold as a single box of four scenarios (forthcoming expansions will be sold individually)
Players: Officially 3-5, 1-3 recommended.
Length: 60 mins per game, with a small time penalty for mistakes.
Replayable?: Yes, with destructible components for which you can print replacements
Buy this if: you like the cool decoder gadget, and don’t mind that some of the puzzles are tenuous. For favourite scenario, we were split between Virus and Aztec.


Deckscape

box.jpgPublisher: dV Giochi
Games: Test Time
Cost: About £18
Players: Officially 1-6, 1-3 recommended.
Length: 60 mins per game
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you want a lighter card-based game with accessible mechanics, observation-based puzzles and a decent narrative.


Lock Paper Scissors


Publisher: Lock Paper Scissors
Games: The Lost Mummy, Escape Room Z, Rebel Revolt, Escape Quest
Cost: $20 per game, sold individually (with discounts for multiple purchases) – plus printing costs
Players: One or more teams of around 4, potentially many teams if you print multiple copies.
Length: 60 mins per game
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you don’t mind print and play, and if you want something customisable, or for a larger number of players, or for kids / teenagers.


Enigma Files

enigma-725x1024.png

Publisher: Enigma Files / Escape Game Products
Games: The Enigma Files, Mysterious Package, Traveller’s Suitcase (currently only Enigma Files is available, pending a relaunch of the other two)
Cost: £19 (Enigma Files), £59 (Package), £299 (Suitcase, with a £99 rental option)
Players: Officially 1-4.
Length: 60 mins per game.
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you like the sound of a game where the first puzzle is identifying the puzzles.


Red House Mysteries

cropped-squaretext2-1.jpgPublisher: Red House Mysteries
Games: The Tears of Vienna
Cost: £95 for a three day rental
Players: “Groups of 4 to 16 people, played in teams of 1, 2 or 3”.
Length: 45-60 mins per team.
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you’re close enough to Exeter to collect it and are not put off by the cost!


Paper Escapes

51tFgSrMw8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Publisher: Paper Escapes
Games: Volume 1
Cost: Around £8
Players: Officially 1-2, 1-2 recommended.
Length: 60 mins.
Replayable?: No (unless you take great pains to avoid marking or damaging the destructible sections).
Buy this if: you want something cheap and quick, and you’ve already played Journal29.


Is there anything else I can play?

Those are all the play-at-home escape games currently available in the UK that I’m aware of.

The long-delayed Kickstarter project Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment should finally be reaching its backers this summer, and is available for pre-order to everyone else. The Armchair Detective Co also ran a successful crowd-funding project, and have a set of three games currently under production.

There are expansions / new games forthcoming later in 2017 for Unlock!, Exit, and Escape Room The Game.

For those in the US, Escape The Crate offers a new boxed game every two months on a subscription basis.

Journal29 is a puzzle book game that is close enough to an escape game that anyone reading this page will probably enjoy it.

There are many excellent computer game versions of the genre, with particularly good starting points being The Room series and the Rusty Lake series; and for something closer to a play at home LARP murder mystery game, take a look at Freeform Games.

Any glaring omissions? Let me know by commenting below or emailing escapethereview@outlook.co.uk.