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.

  • The Werewolf Experiment is my personal favourite, though you may need to wait for Mattel’s version of it to hit the market before you can get a copy.
  • Unlock! is a really well-designed set of games, 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 something you can play solo while travelling with no time limit, take a look at Escape From The Room‘s game book.
  • For a special occasion, consider the rent-a-suitcase games from Abducted LiveRed House Mysteries or Escape Game Products, or one of the many mobile escape games.

For full details of the main games commercially available in English, see below.


Escape The Room

Publisher: ThinkFun
Games:

  • Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor (review)
  • Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat (review)

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 (review)
  • The Secret Lab (review)
  • The Pharaoh’s Tomb (review)
  • The Forbidden Castle (Pending UK release)
  • The Forgotton Island (Pending UK release)
  • The Polar Station (Pending UK release)
  • The Murder on the Orient Express (English version forthcoming)
  • The House of Puzzles (English version forthcoming)
  • The Cellar of Secrets (English version forthcoming)
  • The Sunken Treasure (English version forthcoming)

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!

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Publisher: Space Cowboys (Asmodee in the US)
Games:

  • Escape Adventures box:
  • Mystery Adventures box (forthcoming):
    • The House on the Hill
    • The Nautilus’ Traps
    • The Tonipal’s Treasure
  • Free 30 min print-and-play games:
    • The Elite (review)
    • Fifth Avenue (review)
    • The Dungeon of Doo Arann
    • The Temple of RA

Cost: Around £27, sold as a single box of three scenarios; or $15 per game individually in the US. A selection of shorter games are available for free 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 print-and-play games).
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you want an all round good set of card-based escape games; try the free downloads to get a taste, though the full games are superior.


Escape Room The Game

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Publisher: Spin Master / Identity Games
Games:

  • Core game:
  • Expansions:
    • Funland
    • Murder Mystery

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 (review)
  • The Fate of London

Cost: About €11, though international shipping adds a lot to that.
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.


Escape Room In A Box

wolf_bg_tcm1019-149884Publisher: Escape Room In A Box
Games: The Werewolf Experiment (review)
Cost: Currently unavailable, price TBC for the second edition
Players: Officially 2-8, 1-3 recommended.
Length: 60 mins per game (70-80 for less experienced players)
Replayable?: Destructible elements can be reprinted or have spares
Buy this if: you can get hold of a copy!


Lock Paper Scissors


Publisher: Lock Paper Scissors
Games:

  • The Lost Mummy
  • Escape Room Z (review)
  • Rebel Revolt (review)
  • 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

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Publisher: Enigma Files / Escape Game Products
Games:

  • The Enigma Files (review)
  • Mysterious Package (currently unavailable)
  • Traveller’s Suitcase (currently unavailable)

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.


Escape From The Room

413wpVre6NL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Publisher: Escape From The Room
Games: The Curse of Old Maid Milly
Cost: £12
Players: Not specified (suitable for solo or a small group)
Length: Unlimited
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy this if: you want a book-based game and you’re not planning to play the London game it’s based on!


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 Rent this if: you’re close enough to Exeter to collect it and are not put off by the cost!


Abducted Live

Abducted Live: The Murder BoxPublisher: Abducted Live
Games: The Murder Box
Cost: £30 per day rental (£10 delivery fee, £100 refundable deposit)
Players: Not specified
Length: Not specified
Replayable?: Yes.
Buy Rent this if: you want a relatively affordable option for a suitcase game.


Paper Escapes

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Publisher: Paper Escapes
Games: Volume 1 (review)
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 Armchair Detective Co ran a successful crowd-funding project, and have a set of three games currently under production. They look like they’ll be high end games with very impressive components, though that means they may be prohibitively expensive, especially for those outside the US.

There are expansions / new games forthcoming 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. And they now ship internationally, so more information here once we’ve tried them!

Journal29 is a puzzle book game that is close enough to an escape game that anyone reading this page will probably enjoy it. Also worth mentioning is The Librarian’s Almanaq, which is definitely a puzzle book not any kind of home escape game, but which might appeal to enthusiasts – though be warned, it’s much tougher than most of the games above, and also starts by requiring you to tear several dozen pages out of the book.

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.