Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Escape Room The Game

Escape Room The Game

Fall 2016 Games
Ages: 16 & Up
Manufacturer: Spin Master Toys
Price: $39.99

Out of the box, this game looks pretty complicated with lots of parts, an odd contraption and many pieces-and for good reason. It's based on the videogame versions and the real-world physical adventure games that gained popularity around 2010, in which players are physically locked in a themed room and must collect clues and solve a series of puzzles to escape within a set time limit.

Here's lesson one for playing these remarkably intense, multi-level game: Read the rules carefully or you're not going anywhere!

The game consists of four different locked-room adventures (Prison Break, Virus, Nuclear Countdown, and Temple of the Aztec). Each is more difficulty than the previous. Start with the first and easiest, Prison Break, to get the hang of it all. Open the box to find an electronic "Chrono Decoder" (batteries not included) which keeps track of your time and provides decoding systems and information.

To get started, take the Part 1 envelope, read the intro letter on the back, then open the envelope. Press start on the Chrono Decoder to begin the countdown and quickly start searching all included materials (like an unfinished crossword puzzle, a Sudoku puzzle ripped from a newspaper, a mugshot of man with prison numbers, etc.) for the clues, riddles, and puzzles that reveal the four key codes you must insert into the Chrono Decoder.

Get the code keys right and move to the next stage of the game. Wrong code? You get a startling error alert and the decoder deducts one minute from your time limit of 60 minutes-to get through all three levels and escape the room. Struggling? The 32 Hint Cards with a Hint Card decoder can help if time is dwindling. The next parts all present very different kinds of challenges and clues.

Can't escape? Reset the decoder clock and play it again until you crack the game's code.

This is a great multi-player and family game for teens and adults who love solving numerical and words puzzles and deciphering codes. It's smart, thinking deductively under time pressure, and a blast. The box is packed with lots of extended problem-solving play. Although the mysteries can be played only once, there is replay value for new players. Items used during play can be reprinted via the game's website.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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