I didn’t use this game at all as intended, but even so, I think it is fantastic! Although I’m sure it would be fun, we did not use this game at a party or with a time limit. Instead, my 7 year old son and I just did it off-and-on one Sunday afternoon. I LOVED that he was so eager to work hard for long stretches of time on puzzles and brain teasers. I did help him periodically by steering him in the right direction, but he was able to complete nearly all the puzzles on his own or with very little help from me.
Review: My son first learned about “escape rooms” when he went to a birthday party at the Escape Room in Los Angeles. I’m sure that was way more fun (and probably a lot harder) than this boxed “escape the room” experience. However, it seems like both the in-person experience and this boxed set involve the same sort of brain teasers. I didn’t experience the real thing, but my 7 year old and I had a great time working on the boxed game together.
The game is meant to be played at a party with 3 to 8 players. If there are 3 to 5 players, you are supposed to set a timer for 2 hours. If there are 6 to 8 players, the time limit is supposed to be 90 minutes. I basically let my son work on this by himself, but I read all the clues to him since he’s not a strong reader yet. Also, I figured out what he needed to do, so that if he got stuck, I could give him some extra clues.
Between working on his Detective Club books and reading the entire series of Nate the Great, my son is really into detectives right now. He was very motivated by the way this game was set up, so that he had to solve puzzles in order to find more clues (to solve more puzzles). He felt like a real detective trying to solve a mystery.
My son did not complete the game all at one time, so I’m not entirely sure how long it took. I think it probably took him close to 3 hours total though he worked on it in 30 to 60 minute intervals. He was willing to work for longer stretches, but we kept interrupting him for meals and other life activities.
Obviously, the main difference between this boxed game and the in-person experience is that you are not ACTUALLY locked in a room and the clues are all paper. Another big difference is that the clues in this boxed game need to be solved sequentially. In other words, you cannot do the puzzles out of order. In some ways, this probably makes the solution easier, as the solution path is more straightforward.
In my opinion, 2 to 3 kids working together is probably ideal, as it means those children get to experience all aspects of the game. I was thinking about doing this game with my homeschooling co-op class of eleven 8-10 year olds, but I don’t think that will work well. A couple children who are quicker at solving the puzzles would likely take over and the others may feel left out. I might try buying a second box and splitting the class up.
There are a few aspects of this game worth noting that I did not initially realize. First, there are hints online if you get stuck. Since there are no answers in the box, I thought we were on our own when I did it with my son. Overall, the puzzles are fun, but not extraordinarily hard, so we didn’t need the clues, though there was one in the “bonus round” that took me about 5 minutes to figure out what we were supposed to do.
Also, this game CAN be reused. However, it would probably not be very much fun for the same person to redo it in a short period of time, since they’ll remember the answers to all the puzzles. If you plan to reuse it, you can make a note of what is inside each envelope, or just refer to the manufacturer’s reassembly instructions (which I was grateful to find).
Lastly, the box says ages 10 and up. I completely agree with the “up” part of this age range. I think most adults would enjoy this game. However, I think the “10” is a little high. My 7 year old definitely needed some help, but he could do more than half of the challenges on his own. Even the parts he couldn’t figure out on his own, he was able to share my enthusiasm the whole time and all the clues made sense to him, once I explained my thinking.
Altogether, this was a really enjoyable bonding experience for my son and I that also promoted critical thinking skills and persistence in the face of a challenge. And we saved the city from certain destruction. What more can a person ask? I will definitely be purchasing more of these games in the future.
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