Escape From Dead Town by Professor Puzzle

The latest home escape game range we wanted to give a try was Professor Puzzle’s.

With a set up of four separate enveloped clues to solve, we set to work. A couple of the puzzles we thoroughly enjoyed and loved applying some logic and skill. The others we found a bit basic or almost an afterthought. One basically involved doing some algebra and using trial and error. As much as we don’t mind a bit of maths, we decided that we didn’t want to spend half an hour of our free afternoon doing it so looked up the solution to that one! The four clues then come together at the end to help you find the final solution – where the safe zone is located away from the zombies.

This was a slightly cheaper option compared to others on the market but it really did show. The puzzle range, quality and enjoyment were not quite in the same league as Unlock, Exit Games and Trapped have to offer.

Game information:
Players: 1-4
Age: 12 +
Length: 45mins
Approximate Price: £8

Our ratings:
Overall: 4/10
Difficulty: 5/10
Puzzle range: 4/10
Logic and flow: 5/10

Trapped: The Art Heist (series 1, game 1)

So we have finally got round to having a go at our first Trapped home escape room game – and we loved it!

Tasked with he challenge of escaping the art museum with a stolen painting, you work your way through a series of clues. There is a man on the inside too, but who? The puzzles themselves are varied and logical so we did not find the usual frustrations with having to guess what you have to do.

The set up encourages you to physically place the components around a room to make it as interactive and as escape room like as possible. It includes posters, confidential envelopes and individual name tags to assign to each team member. Each piece is well-designed and, intriguing and great fun to explore.

There is a handy clue booklet if needed but luckily we only had to use this once or twice. Otherwise, we found the clues fairly easy but this is understandable with the age 8+ rating. It states a 1-2 hour game play although it only took us 40 minutes to complete.

We still loved the game and would recommend it for couples and families. We look forward to trying the others in the series.

Game information:
Players: 2-6
Age: 8+
Difficulty rating: medium
Length: 1-2 hours
Approximate Price: £11

Our ratings:
Overall: 7/10
Difficulty: 4/10
Puzzle range: 6/10
Logic and flow: 9/10

The Island of Doctor Goorse by Unlock! Escape Adventures

You have been flown to the island of eccentric billionaire Dr. Goorse but a storm has forced you to bail out with your parachute. You and your team are tasked with escaping the cursed Island. But there’s a catch… your team have been split in half and have to regain communication to proceed.

With Unlock! games being one of the main boxed escape games on the market, we are definitely late to the party. We have loved other boxed games so were keen to see what all the fuss is about.

With a handy tutorial, we were able to have a practice run before starting the main game. Unlock! games have a handy app with an exciting interface which players are required to interact with during the game. It is used for inputting codes, operating machines and asking for hints. It also serves as your timer to keep you on edge throughout the game.

This game involves card clues only and by combining certain “key” and “lock” cards, solving puzzles and machine cards or searching for hidden numbers, you progress through the game. Along the way, you are introduced to different artefacts, documents and characters.

With this adventure, we loved having to work separately at first and then solving clues to allow us to finally work together. Even then, we were allowed to communicate but were unable to see each other’s cards.

Unfortunately, we didn’t do particularly well on our first experience with a time of 68mins and 4 seconds. We also used way too many hints! However, we took a while to get to grips with the format and lost quite a bit of time to penalties as a result. We’re hopeful that we will do better on the next Unlock! game that we try.

We found that these games, at approximately £10 each, are great value for money. Unlike many other escape games on the market, they can be played again and again or regifted as none of the puzzles require you to cut, tear or destroy.

However, we did find that this meant the clues and puzzles were less diverse and interactive than others we have played, especially when compared to Exit games.

Overall, we would still recommend these games and we found them a great way to spend an hour.

Game information:
Players: 2-6
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: 3/3
Length: 60mins (but you can take longer)
Approximate Price: £10 – £12

Our ratings:
Overall: 7 /10
Difficulty: 9/10
Puzzle range: 5/10
Logic and flow: 7/10

The Polar Station – Exit Game by Kosmos

Just a short review this time as we have reviewed many of the Exit Games in the past.

This one – The Polar Station – we picked up whilst on our recent camping trip and absolutely loved it! Unlike some of the other Exit Games, this one is not necessarily linear. Rather than following the riddle cards from A -> Z, different combinations are needed for each clue and it isn’t always obvious which ones go together. A more rounded and logical approach is needed.

As always, we needed to use some of the hint cards to help us along the way but managed to solve it in 77minutes and 31 seconds. With 3 help cards, this gave us 6 stars out of 10.

Another great game in the Exit range.

Game information:
Players: 1-4
Age: 10+
Difficulty rating: 3/5
Length: 1- 2 hrs
Approximate Price: £11-£15

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

Houdini’s Secret Room – Printable Escape Room Kit

Another first for us in the ever-growing escape game market – a printable escape room kit.

This brilliantly designed escape game, which is aimed at children aged 10+, impressed us from the off. The easily downloadable pdf files showed incredible graphic design with vivid colours and mysterious-looking documents. Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t wait to print and get going.

Using the handy set up guide and game master’s how to play guide, one of us set to work on organising the resources and sorting them into the three challenges. The guides themselves are colourful, detailed and very easy to follow.

It is very simple and can be set up anywhere – all you need is a printer, scissors, glue and a stapler.

We did find that a lot of ink was required and used about 1 and a half ink cartridges to print it all. However, some of the pages we printed at A5 size. We also decided to laminate those which don’t need to be cut up during the game so that we can reuse them (it is worth checking the “How to Play” guide for which sheets need to be full size for the puzzles to work). Overall, spending on the ink is worth it to give justice to the high-quality graphic design.

The game itself involves working your way out of Houdini’s museum after being trapped inside. The mission is to find the hidden key by solving a series of clues. Along the way, there are characters to help you with specific clues or to give you hints and extra time should it be needed. With an hour on the clock, would we escape?

As escape room enthusiasts and primary school teachers, working with the target age group on a daily basis, we were interested to see how the game had been pitched. The whole challenge took us about 25 minutes but bearing in mind this is aimed at children, it provided a decent level of challenge. We can easily imagine our year 6 (UK – age 10-11) classes grouping together to come up with theories and ideas for how to solve each of the clues. We would love to try this out with them in the future.

Considering all of the components were printed, there was a large variety in the type of clues – some logic, some riddles, some physical and some skill.

Overall, we would recommend this printable escape room kit for older children and think many of the accompanying adults will love it too. It is a fun way to spend an hour and the quality of the artwork is outstanding.

Recommended teams: 2-6 players (additional copies can be printed for larger groups)

Age: 10+

Price: $29

Visit https://houdinisecretroom.com/ for more information and to purchase.

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