The Best Escape Room Games To Play At Home

2022.03.31.

When you're playing a real life brick-and-mortar escape room game, then there's nothing quite like the unique pleasure you get from being trapped in a small, dingy and cramped room. Working your way around the space, peering underneath objects, and trying to lift anything that's not tied down. Looking for strings and hoping they are attached to out of reach keys. Or simply juggling the dials on a padlock, hoping the magic combination somehow comes up, and you’ll all escape before the clock says the game is over. 

These are some of the many reasons why we love playing escape room games together. As the clock relentlessly ticks down the remaining time, the excitement racks up to an almost unbearable level. Nobody wants to fail another escape room game. The tension is often palatable. But in truth, over 50% of players will fail the game, and often by only the smallest margin of minutes or even seconds, simply because one puzzle perplexed everybody in that team. 

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, visiting escape rooms became a simple no-no. This is because they are not the best environment for practicing social distancing. To that end, many escape room companies turned to promoting virtual live avatar escape rooms. This is where the games-master is the only person in the real escape room and players are able to see and talk with him via a conference app such as Zoom, all whilst they're sitting on their comfortable sofas at home. Though it may sound clunky, you might be surprised as to how successful these virtual games have become, easily eclipsing the huge numbers that were previously done by traditional escape room games. Not only that, but because the games are virtual, it means the players can still enjoy a team effort even though they cannot see each other as such. 

If you are the type of games player who is still enamored with old fashioned board games, such as Monopoly, then we have a selection of games that can be played from home without having to trapse off to a real escape room or even play with a virtual remote avatar. Many of these escape room board games will offer a number of different rooms. And though most of these games offer the same hour-long time limit, you’ll find that there's a huge variety of different gameplays between them all. On the whole, the maximum number for most of them will be 7 persons. And while some of these games involve all sorts of interesting clues and puzzles, others may work by simply using a regular deck of playing cards. Some may rely on the internet by using apps or a website. 

Escape Room in a Box

This escape room game, Escape in a Box comes from the huge American toy manufacturer Mattel. It comes with a huge number of components including building blocks, heavy envelopes, and miniature cases that are actually closed using real padlocks. There are a number of mind-boggling puzzles to go along with them, and you'll spend a lot of time fiddling with the mechanisms of the components, as well as trying to work out how the puzzles and clues will help you. 

One thing that we really liked about the game was that you need to make use of that oh-so-rare quality called “critical thinking.”  In some of the puzzles you are required to use household products, which we’re sure you've never been called upon to use when playing any other board game. There are no external rules to the game as everything comes in the box. This allows you to simply drop the game down in front of anyone and start playing straight away.  The game plan is for an hour and a half. All of the puzzles and clues, as well as the building components of the game, can be returned to their original condition with the help of a simple eraser. The Escape Room in a Box is physically big in size. Also, we should point out, it's going to be pricey.

Unlock!

We should start by saying that Unlock! does require a companion app for your phone or tablet. That's because the game uses a combination of cards, as well as the app itself, to solve the puzzles and find the clues. The game makes use of a singular rectangle of card as well as the input from your phone. Essentially, these cards have numbers on one side and colourful illustrations on the front. The game starts with the establishment of a theme which can be anything from cartoon cruises to dusty temples. All of these come with different numbers and letters. And you must find the corresponding ones in the deck and lay them out. These cards can represent many things including a mechanism that is needed to solve -  via a digital puzzle on the app, or a locked door or simply any item you may need to utilise in order to escape. It’s these items that are one of the essential ingredients in the game. By combining them, for example, putting an old video tape into an old VHS machine, allows you to match cards and numbers together.

The players will spend a lot of time shuffling through the cards in desperation as they look for cards and hidden numbers. In fact, it’s very easy to imagine that you're actually in a real escape room game searching for clues. When a door finally does open, revealing a new room, you'll find it’s equally as thrilling as a real game. Unlock! is published by Space Cowboy and we feel that it offers a good starting point for players who are interested in escape room  board games. The games publisher also offers some free print and play demo rooms,  which are great fun for practicing before you try the real deal.

Escape Room: The Game

We've left our favourite till last. The standout and essential ingredient of this game is a chunky, battery-not-included, hunk of plastic that's called the “Chrono Decoder.” On his side are engraved the Decoder Guides and there's an LCD countdown that gives the feeling that you are disarming a bomb. On the top of the Decoder are four slots. There are three rooms included in the box and they require you to crack 3 codes within an hour. To do so you place a lot of plastic keys into the Decoder itself. You'll see that each key is marked with any number of shapes, directions, letters, or numbers. To that end, the game is more complicated than simply inputting a 4-digit code for example. All the codes involved need clues solving that include deciphering skills, logic, and also lateral thinking.  These are massive multi-part puzzles and will have all players scratching their heads for a while. In conclusion, Escape Room: The Game is an immersive and exciting activity for larger groups, as there are many different aspects that players can work on individually without having to step on each other's toes. Probably the only matter of disagreement amongst the players will be who has the honour of inserting the keys.
 

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