The Crystal Maze board game

When lockdown began, we knew we needed to invest in some new games to keep us entertained, especially as we knew we wouldn’t be able to visit escape rooms for some time.

We ordered this game, having enjoyed the show in the past. It took a while to set up the first time but was well worth it.

You begin by working through the 4 themed sections, each with a mental game, a skill game, a physical game and a mystery game. This gives a brilliant range of puzzles for all abilities.

Unfortunately, each time you play the possible puzzles are the same. However, each game is able to be replayed or has enough resources to avoid too much repetition of the same riddles and clues.

As per the show, each successful game earns you a crystal which equates to time for the final challenge.

We thoroughly enjoyed this game which did include many of the types of puzzles we like from escape games. I would thoroughly recommend this for couples, groups of friends and families.

Game information:
Players: 2+
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: 6/10
Length: approx 1 hour
Approximate Price: £30

Our ratings:
Overall: 8/10
Difficulty: 6/10
Puzzle range: 8/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Escape from the Starline Express

The theming of this game is brilliant if you love a historical, period setting.

This game follows the investigation of a criminal gang on the Starline Express. Following clues that have been left, you solve puzzles which open a series of doors, each leading to a different carriage or section on the train.

An added touch is that each puzzle is available in duplicate which works well if completing this with more than 2 people. Each carriage comes with an optional hint tab. We found that the puzzles were the right level of challenge and we didn’t need to use the hints at all. They all use logic and do not rely on guess work which helps the game to flow well.

As a relatively cheap game in comparison to some of the others on the market, this is good value for money.

Game information:
Players: 2-8
Age:12+
Difficulty rating:
Length: approx 1-2 hours
Approximate Price: £12

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10
Difficulty: 6/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Escape the Casino

These brilliant games have been extremely popular and unfortunately have gone out of production. If you’re lucky, you can pick one up if escape companies have them in existing stock.

This is quite a simple game as far as escape boxes go but it follows a great story. Additionally, the board and resources are clearly made with good quality materials.

The game requires you to download an app which plays videos and allows you to input the codes you discover. You can replay the game as many times as you want but can only use the code on one device.

I would recommend this escape box if you want a simple game. It would be suitable for beginners.

Game information:
Players: 2-6
Age: 12+
Length: 30-60 mins
Approximate Price: £15

Our ratings:
Overall: 6/10
Difficulty: 4/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Escape Room The Game – by Goliath Games

These escape room box games are great fun. There are three games in this set which makes it good value for money. Each game is then split into three parts which need to be worked through, each with their own 4 digit code to find. Unlike the Exit games which do not have a time limit, this one gives you only 60 minutes to solve each 3 part game. It mainly makes use of picture clues and decoding puzzles but follows a clear logic.

Another unique aspect of this boxed game is that it comes with the chrono decoder. This works as a timer, holds the decoding information and most importantly, is where the code keys are inserted in order to complete each part of the game.

Chrono Decoder

Overall, I would recommend this game if you are a fan of escape rooms.

Game information:
Players: 3-5
Age: 16+
Difficulty rating: varies between games
Length: 3 x 60 mins
Approximate Price: £30

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10
Difficulty: 7/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

Exit: The Game by Kosmos

We discovered Exit games on a slightly disappointing escape room weekend break we had taken. The rooms, which we were really looking forward to, we’re good but did not blow us away and so we were left feeling a bit dissatisfied. At the hotel, they sold Exit games and so we decided to buy one to fill our evening.

Giving ourselves a bit of a baptism of fire, we bought The Catacombs of Horror which is not only a 2 parter (and by definition twice as long) but it also has a high difficulty rating.

We started off quite ambitious and confident but soon realised that it was not going to be as easy as we first thought.

The series gives you hint cards (3 for each clue) in case you get stuck and for the first game, we needed to use a lot! Some of the clues were logical yet difficult; however, I did find that many of the others relied on a lot of guess work about how to solve the problems. This first game we were playing until early hours of the morning.

Since then, we have tried several others and enjoyed them more. This has included The Stormy Flight and The Mysterious Museum. The difficulty ratings have been lower but we have found them to be far more logical and flow much better.

Our favorite so far has been The Haunted Rollercoaster which had a fantastic range of puzzles that made us think outside the box. It also flowed well and used logic meaning we didn’t need to use many hints at all.

Overall, I would definitely recommend these games. Unfortunately, they are one use only as parts of the game are folded or cut but at between £11 and £15, this is affordable as an occasional treat.

We have found that during the Coronavirus lockdown, they have helped to fill a part of the escape room gap.

Game information:
Players: 1-4
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: varies per game
Length: 1- 2 hrs (4+ for Catacombs)
Approximate Price: £11-£15

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10 (Haunted Rollercoaster 8.5/10)
Difficulty: 7/10
Puzzle range: 10/10
Logic and flow: 8/10