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Moose Detective
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Played through all 4 escapes with the gf and her sister. Some random thoughts. Any puzzle types/solutions will be in spoilers blocks. If you don't want to know ANYTHING other than my overall opinion, don't read the parts numbered for the scenarios.

Components on this one are an odd mix. The "decoder" has the timer and plays some sounds even though they have an app for more sounds. The 4 code breaking solutions built into the sides are nice - but they probably could have been bigger/painted so they were easier to read. There's a cryptex like thing on the front that doesn't move and serves no purpose. The keys are a great design for preventing players from brute-forcing it by having every key have a letter, number, roman numeral, shape, dot placement, squiggly line, arrow, and key prongs. These are even better than the wheel from the Escape the Room series (hereafter EtR). Once again though, I wish the numbers/letters/ roman numerals / dots/ squigglies were painted/darker to be more legible. And REMEMBER THE KEY SYMBOLS. This is important as if you keep using letters and numbers you might forget that there are other symbols that could be answers! I am a little confused as to how the decoder is working - presumably it will recognize any of the four first clues as a valid first clue - better hope you dont accidentally give one of those as your first answer for a different scenario - but did they pre-load more for the first wave of expansions? Or will we have to get a new decoder each time? That would let them improve on the design, but it would add to the expense. If they do have to make a second decoder, I really hope they add some sort of card slot so it can work with future expansions.

Most of the other components are thin paper sheets with pieces for you to punch out which is pretty bizarre. One random non-paper component that isnt really necessary and its just weird to include it. And there's one complaint about the packaging of the Nuclear Countdown scenario I will include below. I like the envelopes within envelopes formula of the EtR series better, but I do like that one of the escapes here has a box instead of an envelope. I really liked that all of them had a "game board" that you could search for clues and that all of the later puzzles referenced earlier ones. (But you could still play them in any order if you wanted.)

Difficulty wise I'd say the difficulty ratings on the box of 2,2,3,4 should probably be 1, 2, 2, 4. Even though escape 3 has a slightly time consuming first puzzle, it has a potentially instant or game-breaking second puzzle. Its actually interesting that some of the escapes had quick first parts and longer later parts and others had longer first parts. So you're never sure when to panic. In additon to the one puzzle in escape 3 that I think will throw a lot of people, there was one other puzzle in escape 4 I had a bit of an issue with, but I'm not sure if its designed that way intentionally or not.

Gameplay wise these are still pretty linear with 3 separate key entries to each scenario. Since each key entry is 4 keys, there can be from 3-12 puzzles per scenario (but it was usually closer to 3). What it does sometimes do better than EtR is actually have a few concurrent puzzles or parts of puzzles running at once so you rarely had the moment of waiting for someone else to try the puzzle while you did nothing. Even during the times where there was only one puzzle, they were "bigger" than EtR so it could keep multiple people involved.

Scenario specifics -

1. Prison Break - We finished this one in just over 30 minutes and could have been even quicker if we didn't take time to make sure we weren't missing anything on the last puzzle. This one is pretty straight forward with only one clue I could even see giving people a bit of a stump. I thought it was fun but one of our group was a little let down by how easy and quick it was. She regretted saying that late. Do not get discourged if this one is too easy. They do get harder. If you play this one, plan to play another one right after it.

2. Virus - We skipped over the middle of one clue path and missed one clue that I think could have been more obvious/ better setup
Spoiler (click to reveal)
the bird being red - its not red every time it appears
and therefore wound up solving one puzzle with an accidentally correct key based on an also correct early guess at a puzzle in the next section.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The 4 comes from Red being 4 but we correctly guessed the hand used in the next part would make a 4.
This one had a good variety to its puzzles and was probably the most complete from idea to execution.

3. Nuclear Countdown - This was an odd one. Most importantly - don't look at the included box at all until you enter the first code. The "part 2" wrapping on the "part 3" box pretty much gives away part 1. This is a design misstep. As for the escape itself, the first puzzle is fun and a bit time consuming but doesn't use as much of its own "board" as it could. We blew this when the person entering the answer used an incorrect key and we wasted another 20-30 minutes trying to re-solve the puzzle before trying the original answer again. GAH. The second puzzle will either be solved in 30 seconds or have you hitting the hint book, I really don't think there's a middle ground. The third puzzle had a fun bit and then a ridiculously easy logic puzzle solve. Like, just way too easy if you've ever done a logic puzzle. Because of our mistake entering the wrong keys and then getting hung up on the second puzzle, this took us 90 minutes and required a hint. I really think without those 2 problems, you could probably do this one in 30 minutes too.

Complaints about the 2nd puzzle for those who played it. SOLUTION SPOILERS
Spoiler (click to reveal)
When he said the combination lock was on the answering machine, the first thing I did was check to see if the number listed on the tracer sheet was legit. It wasn't so I moved on. The kid sister said it would be cool if you could actually call and we told her about how ARGs do that. My gf thinks she told us that TON was 866 and could be an area code but we both insist she never spoke it out loud. Having a two clue puzzle where you have to actually make a phone call just seemed more outside the box than everything else that I think it should been hinted at more. While the rulebook said you could use your phone for the calculator/flashlight it didnt say a phone was mandatory. The game even provided a mirror for the mirror writing. Boooo.


4. Temple of the Aztec - Harder puzzles but less pieces. Is that more interesting or less fun? This one was themed well though. One questionable design decision was having key information getting covered by pieces for a more fiddly than necessary experience. I had a bit of an issue with what I think is supposed to be a clue to some information having incorrect other information, which threw me off. We wound up double stumped on this one - once because of a one person at a time puzzle where I wasnt allowed to follow my train of thought to eventual completion and then the hardest puzzle in the box that we had mostly complete with one key piece wrong. If this had been a video game, we would have put it down for the night and returned to it and probably solved it the next day. But because of the timer running and the group natue of it we got the hint and fnished in 90 minutes again. Puzzle rant incoming, semi solution spoilers
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The note lists the four aspects in a certain order but that is almost but not quite the order that they go in when solving correctly. If this was a red herring on purpose thats a bit mean. If its by accident, thats a bit sloppy.



Overall - I had a super fun day solving puzzles and am pleased with my purchase. Twice the price of EtR and probably 3x the playtime although its broken up in 4 smaller chunks. I almost feel like the cost is more for the factories having to make 100% sure everything is bagged complete and ordered correctl rather than for the actual components. They could be drastically improved.

EtR has easier puzzles but more things to open (see Legacy games) and more puzzles/steps which add to the fun factor. ER:tG chooses to go a bit harder but I think some of the big ideas might have been too constrained by the one hour time limit. Of course the longer an escape room experience the more variable the finsihing times will be which can lead to customer disappointment. So its a fine tight rope.

These types of things are always impossible to judge on difficulty because if they're solved it will aways feel easy and if they weren't solved they will always feel too hard. That said, I think this package is a decent middle ground. Pro puzzlers will probably still think its easy but might find some things to hang their head on while less experienced puzzlers will probably be feeling the brain burn by the end.


I feel this is a good first effort and I'm curious to see where they go from here. I did like the progress that EtR made from scenario 1 to scenario 2, so hopefully ER:tG will do the same. If escape designers insist on having spots where there is only one puzzle active, I really wish they would start including multiple copies of the components so more than one person can work on it. The final puzzle to scenario 3 had a color copy and b&w copy (presumably for color blind gamers) and that was much easier to work with having 2 copies for 3 people. One copy of components for every expected 2-3 players is probably best.

Now that I've already played this whole box, both Escape the Rooms (and the 2nd one hasnt even hit official full release yet), and all 4 TIME Stories I find myself once again waiting patiently for the next entertaining puzzle night. What will reach me first? Expansions for Escape Room: the Game, new Escape the Room scenarios, Escape Room in a Box, an English translation of Exit, the next TIME Stories scenario or 7th Continent? Or something completely different? If I'm missing something, let me know.



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Marijke Otto
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EXPANSION SETS Escape Room The Game:
The small carton box of the next two expansion sets contains 3 envelopes with content. You will need some of the items from Escape Room the Game big box such as: Chrono Decoder, all Keys, Hint Decoder and some other items. They will not be provided again in the expansion sets.
The two new scenario's are: Murder Mystery and Welcome to Funland. They will be released in the Netherlands in October.

NON-PAPER ELEMENTS:
In contrast to what you say about he non-paper components. They are always necessary to solve the scenario. But of course you can be creative and find other ways to solve the puzzles with items you find in your home...

PAPER SHEETS:
I think the reason that you have to punch out the elements from the paper sheets yourself is that there are less elements to assemble in production and therefore less errors.
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Pat Johnston
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Thanks for the overview. Where did you buy this?
 
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Moose Detective
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hawkeyept wrote:
Thanks for the overview. Where did you buy this?


I bought it on Amazon when they had it in stock themselves for $40.00. Now it seeems a third party is selling it for more. Its also in stock at Toys R Us for $40.00
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Cardboard Hustle
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Great write-up!

Having seen multiple groups run different scenarios, I find it interesting how different each groups experience can be. Some will have not problems, some will have all the problems. And no two groups seem to get hung up on the same puzzle.

For instance, my group had a totally different experience with Nuclear Countdown Puzzle #2.
***SPOILER IN SPOILER BOX BELOW! (duh)***
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It went something like this:

Person 1- "I have this code"
Person 2- "Well what is that code when we convert it to phone button presses?"

*30 seconds later*

Person 1- "It makes this number"
Person 3 (me)- "That's a legit number, we should call it."
Person 4- "Already dialing!"
 
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acedaryl1 wrote:

For instance, my group had a totally different experience with Nuclear Countdown Puzzle #2.
***SPOILER IN SPOILER BOX BELOW! (duh)***
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It went something like this:

Person 1- "I have this code"
Person 2- "Well what is that code when we convert it to phone button presses?"

*30 seconds later*

Person 1- "It makes this number"
Person 3 (me)- "That's a legit number, we should call it."
Person 4- "Already dialing!"


I completely agree that this will often be how it goes.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
That's why I said its either 30 seconds or game-breaking. Its going to be an instant "let's try it" or people not trying it at all because its different than the number on the trace or people who don't even consider the possibility or have a fear of trying it in case its wrong. It just happened that I checked the phone number on the trace log first which was NOT a legit number and ruled out the concept of actually dialing (in hindsight this is stupid it makes sense he keeps his combination on a different phone.) Then my gf was the one to try to see what would happen if you punched in ton... and found the 866 valid area code...but never said aloud that it was 866 so that didn't click with me either. And it obviously didn't make her dial because of the different digits from the trace and probably fear of dialing random numbers.

I think because the first puzzle is mostly straightforward and the third puzzle at the end is a 20 piece jigsaw and a simple logic puzzle... the entire "hour long" bit for this one hinges on realizing this a a legit phone number. Otherwise is probably even shorter than the first one.

I am actually really curious if people get hung up here or if it was just is.


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Frank Branham
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I've only played the first "room", but this one is definitely better than than the EtR series. The puzzles feel like actual puzzles, and just a little more classic.

The hint system is also remarkably well thought out. Basically, you get a set of timed clues. The downside of the hint system is that they basically hand you the answers at some points. Given that there are only 3 stages to each room, this seems a little odd.

(Oddly enough, the very first stage in the very first room is so far the most vague. )

Perhaps a scoring system so that if a clue actually helps you, you are docked a number of points depending on the clue.

That and a freaking magnifying glass might be necessary for this one.
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Justin G
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Thanks for your review - just wondering why you are comparing 7th Continent to puzzle and escape games. It didn't seem to fit that genre to me.
 
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Moose Detective
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jgunnz wrote:
Thanks for your review - just wondering why you are comparing 7th Continent to puzzle and escape games. It didn't seem to fit that genre to me.


If you look at the avaiilble photos of cards on BGG or the Print-and-Play of 7th Continent you will see that it very much resembles a point-and-click adventure game which are filled with puzzles.

You'll see a gear puzzle, a riddle, a hidden number, inventory management and more.
 
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