Hello again friends, this is your Captain speaking. I know I stated earlier that I was an avid gamer but that label gets muddy as it applies to such a broad spectrum of things. For me it was a mixture of Video Games, board games and RPGs (Role Playing Games. Like Dungeons and Dragons which, for the record, really has nothing to do with devil worship.). I have been playing games and building relationships through games since I was at least 5. My father had me learning chess at 7 which he later regretted when I was crushing him by the time I was 9 nearly every time we played. I have been thinking recently about my expertise in this area now that I am demoing and running groups for therapeutic benefit through a local organization in my volunteer time (another time for this discussion but if you are interested lookup www.thebodhanagroup.org) and thinking of the times where these games and Escape Games cross over. Not necessarily directly in every case but some of the main elements of Escape Games are present in them and I thought I would take a moment to share some of the ones I have experienced. It’s another way to enjoy elements of this entertainment genre we love so much when you can’t get to one yourself.
Exit the Game by Thames and Kosmos:
This is an actual escape experience that is pretty affordable for families and groups of people looking for a different game experience. There are three different ones out now and are an excellent substitute for the real thing. The only downside is, just like Escape Rooms, each of these can only be played once as you destroy the game components as you use them. There are several different kinds of these “Escape in a box” style games but this is the one that I enjoyed the most. Some of the other ones were less challenging or, to be honest, just not as fun.
Mysterium by Asmodee
Have you played Clue? If you answered no stop reading, go play Clue then come back. I’ll wait.
Ok I lied, I got tired of waiting. Mysterium takes some of those basic elements but applies them differently. Players are psychic investigators attempting to solve a murder. Each player must figure out the murderer, weapon and room in the mansion the crime happened in. Clues to each of these are given to individual players by a ghost I the mansion. The ghost is played by whichever player is not an investigator. The ghost must issue hints to the players through a deck of random pieces of artwork that the ghost has to match to each players target. This all leads to the players trying to figure out which individual player’s combination is the real one. Identifying clues, solving mysteries and working toward an overall goal. Also, the artwork is really cool. It’s fun too if you’re into that sort of thing.
Magic Maze by Sit Down!
Imagine you are part of an adventuring group in a fantasy game. Barbarian, elf, mage; that sort of thing. On your way back from a successful adventure your gear is stolen. Oh crap, right? Well there is a solution. You have to go to the mall and steal it back. I understand you may be tempted to ask why is there a mall in a fantasy game or what is an adventuring group? Just go with it. This will make sense I a second.
Players are given an action each can take moving any pawn on the board in a specific direction. Up, down, left or right. Players must guide al of the pawns through a mall to find their equipment and get out of the mall before security catches up with them. There are a couple of catches though as there always are. Players can only use the movement direction they are given and nothing else. Also, players cannot verbally communicate during the game. Yup, non-verbal communication only.
Oh, I almost forgot, it’s also timed. Yeah. A group of players being forced to utilize differing forms of communication while operating under a time crunch. Also have to work to complete an objective and get out in under that time. If this was an escape room it would be the “Get your weapons and get out of the mall but shhh don’t talk to anyone while doing it.” Room. Feels just like an escape room.
Codenames by Czech Games:
This is more of a puzzle solving game but, as I understand it, Escape Rooms occasionally have puzzles in them. There are several variants of this game but the premise is the same. Players group up into teams (red and blue. Surprise, right? No one ever builds two teams out of teal and Indigo) and each team has a cluemaster. The “board” as it is, is a grid of cards that have words or pictures or something on them. It is the job of the cluemaster to use a grid to find their teams colors on the grid and then give a one-word clue to their team that can draw a parallel to as many of the things in the grid as possible without using a clue that can apply to the opponent’s colors. Seems easy right? It isn’t. Neither is Parkour which is why I don’t do it. This is a challenge I can get behind though.
Once the clue is delivered the cluemaster’s team discusses and dissects what the cluemaster has said and makes guesses as to which things on the board it might pertain to. As a rule, while this is happening the cluemaster has to sit stone faced and can’t react, even when his or her team has so misconstrued a clue given to them that you want to jump out of your seat across the table, grab one of them by the face, point at the table and yell “I SAID TIPS! CLEARLY, I MEANT WAITRESS! WHY IN GOD’S NAME WOULD YOU THINK I WAS REFERRING TO SHUTTLE!!!” I’m not going to say this thought has ever crossed my mind but I will admit it is a very specific example. First team to correctly identify all of their team’s tiles before the other is the winner. Rinse and repeat. Great game for large parties.
Hey! Just like an Escape Room!
There are plenty of other games out there that have elements of Escape Rooms but seriously, I can’t put them all in here. That’s a ridiculous amount of info and at some point you’re going to stop listening to me. Till next time friends and happy escaping!
James is a super nerd that has been playing games at a table or on a screen or with the sanity of others since he was about 6 years old. Some time may or may not have passed since then. James has been hosting Escape Rooms for over two years and also manages both locations for Escape Games Live as the GM. He has also played numerous escape rooms and has learned much through personal experience watching and playing rooms. In his time away from work he enjoys life with his wife and daughter as well as volunteering time with The Bodhana Group, which is a local organization that uses tabletop gaming as a form of adjunct therapy for those in need of their services, helping to develop critical thinking, planning and strategy, social skills and building self-esteem and identity by exploring each individual’s “character”. He is a fan of all things nerd which is good because his name would be a waste otherwise.