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Escape: The Curse of the Temple» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Fair Game Reviews: Escape rss

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Scott Huntington
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Put on your wide brimmed hats and cut your fingernails, we're about to try and sprint our way out of a cursed temple! Be prepared to have your heart voluntarily wander up to your neck, because this is probably the most white-knuckled ride of a game you will play for a long time.

Escape sees players simultaneously and frantically rolling dice to create combinations that allow them to move between rooms of the temple, discover new rooms and discard gems. You see, your little adventure starts in the narrative where your team has just gotten a little too emerald-eyed, and has plucked one too many gems from the temple's torch lit halls for its liking. In short, it's pissed and wants to collapse on you. But as is the unwritten law with these things, cursed temples always give you a ten-minute grace period to get out before they finally self destruct.

The timer in this case is a CD, and the first bit of genius that this game hands you. The sound design here is amazing and sets the atmosphere beautifully, from the creepy panpipes and accelerating heartbeats leading up to echoing door slams and luscious birdsong. But the CD doesn't just blow kisses in your ears while reminding you the finiteness of your journey, it is a key part of the game, as jolting and pants-wettingly loud gongs will sound, telling you to run the hell back to the safe room or you'll lose a die for the rest of the game; a fifth (or maybe even a quarter) of your arsenal for getting the hell out of here.

The dice themselves are also somewhat cursed. Rolling one side, a black mask, locks the die completely and cannot be touched until the remedy (a golden mask) comes to your aid. And if you roll all black masks, you're stuck until someone rolls into your room and offers you a golden mask of their own. Players are constantly getting slowed in the quagmire of these black dice and will need to rescue each other from the curses taking hold. This is one of the fantastic parts of the drama that unfolds every game. Joe, that weak-minded fool, has managed to get stuck about three rooms away from the centre, and the gong has just struck. Do you amiably rush over to try and rescue him? Can you do that in forty seconds? Or do you panic and sprint back yourself, leaving him to the temple nasties who will rip out one of his dice through his chest?

Players also need to work together to hand off the gems they so greedily snatched up. But just dropping them and running won't do, no no. This temple, despite its inevitable collapse, wants you to tidily place them on the pedestals scattered throughout its chambers. How many you can hand off is also a matter of how many symbols you can roll; more gems can only be given over if multiple players are working together in the same room, hastily throwing dice and screaming numbers at each other like rain men. The lighter your load, the more lenient the temple will be when you finally discover the exit and need to get out. And in your first game, you probably won't make it. You'll be very very very close, but one person will probably be pounding on the door as it crumbles, along with the rest of the temple. You'll all let out huge sighs, realise your palms are sweaty, laugh heartily, and then set it up and play it again.

However in your second game you will win. Easily. In fact, you'll probably have learned so much from your mistakes that you'll get out without even breaking a sweat. The base game is perfectly tuned for players playing a first time, but you should quickly switch to expert or pro mode after your first narrow escape. There are options for keeping this game fiendish, and you should definitely use them. Extra curses seal players' mouths or bind their hands to their heads. More gems to offhand means more teamwork in each of the rooms and more time pressure.
The game's strength is keeping you on the edge of your seat for a whole 10 minutes, and you need to help it accomplish that by giving it the opportunity to kick your dusty explorer butts.

Escape is of the best games I have ever played, the sheer fun and immersion it gives you is enough to recommend this to anybody. Just expect your neighbours to think it's hailing plastic when you play.

10/10
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Brad McKenzie
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I enjoyed your review and am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this very cool game.
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Very good review. I haven't had this much anticipation for a game since Kingdom Builder. If this game turns out to be as big a hit for my family as KB, it will be a bargain.
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Michael Nerman
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Thanks for the great review. I want this game! So, when you use the dice for something, do they get used up and need to be rerolled?
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Yes.

If the symbol on the die has been used (for moving, exploring, placing gems etc) then that die *must* be rolled before it can be used again.

If you don't use the symbol shown on a die then it *may* be re-rolled, or instead saved for later use.

Except that if the die is showing the black face then it may *not* be re-rolled (or used) at all, unless you first "spend" a gold face (which allows two black dice to be re-rolled).
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tom moughan
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ahh....I love the smell of a stack of sketchily placed animals in the morning!
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does the cd ever get predictable? will there be other mp3 downloads/ more in expansions?
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Richard Dewsbery
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There's a huge opportunity here for Queen to provide different scenarios, or make the game easier or harder, using just a few different soundtracks. An 11- or 12-minute soundtrack where you have to return to the centre chamber 3 times instead of just twice is going to play a bit differently to the original soundtrack. You do get to know when the gongs are likely to sound (at least the first one), so soundtracks with different timings would be good, as would soundtracks which ratchet up the tension or are suited to different environments.





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Michael Nerman
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I would have thought it would have been possible to create the CD tracks in such a way that if the CD was randomized, it would change the timing of the gongs...
 
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Michael Nerman
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RDewsbery wrote:
Yes.

If the symbol on the die has been used (for moving, exploring, placing gems etc) then that die *must* be rolled before it can be used again.

If you don't use the symbol shown on a die then it *may* be re-rolled, or instead saved for later use.

Except that if the die is showing the black face then it may *not* be re-rolled (or used) at all, unless you first "spend" a gold face (which allows two black dice to be re-rolled).
Thanks. Very cool. In the game Boggle Bowl, in which you can re-roll the dice as many times as you want, but it is also a speed game, and it takes time to reassess the new roll. I always thought that was a great mechanic.
 
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Cameron Chien
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lengthtoavoid wrote:
does the cd ever get predictable? will there be other mp3 downloads/ more in expansions?

I think that even if the timing of the gongs were the same in every game, the fact that the temple tiles (and curse cards) are shuffled each game, and that you are rolling dice throughout, would provide sufficient randomness.

Cameron
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Scott Huntington
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The game definitely provides enough variation without needing lots of different tracks. I imagine without well-spaced gong intervals, the game could become too easy. After all, you want the interruptions to come at the least convenient points for the players. Having two gongs go off close together could mean having a nice 5 minute stretch of gongless temple pillaging
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boardgamemuse
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Clearly the designer has take que from Space Alert with the CD soundtrack pacing.

This does make sense, of course, and I can't believe that more designers haven't also grabbed onto the mechanism.





I'll own this game one day, but I can't believe it will have the depth and pure satisfaction of Space Alert team play. Still, this game might be a better gateway for some.


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Cameron Chien
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Less planning and thinking, and more pressure and frantic fun. Definitely room for both games in one's collection

Cameron
 
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Houserule Jay
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Good review, except that I doubt people are always going to win their 2nd game (depends largely too on how many players they have, which tiles they included etc etc) I like variety in a game so included curses and treasures from the start, so of course took us that much longer to win too (10 games)

Zeede wrote:
lengthtoavoid wrote:
does the cd ever get predictable? will there be other mp3 downloads/ more in expansions?

I think that even if the timing of the gongs were the same in every game, the fact that the temple tiles (and curse cards) are shuffled each game, and that you are rolling dice throughout, would provide sufficient randomness. Cameron


sdotco wrote:
The game definitely provides enough variation without needing lots of different tracks. I imagine without well-spaced gong intervals, the game could become too easy. After all, you want the interruptions to come at the least convenient points for the players. Having two gongs go off close together could mean having a nice 5 minute stretch of gongless temple pillaging


I don't agree with the first sentence here, at least as a general statement (some groups will be more affected than others). After 10 games, I know EXACTLY when the 1st AND 2nd gong are coming from the little noises that happen leading up to it, and on more than one of the soundtracks too. This does make the game MUCH easier, and removes some of the tension as well.

Which is the reason I started this thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/896256/random-scenario-sound...

And very fortunately, the same guy that did the flash program for Space Alert (which is a great tool for that game once you become good at the game, since you suffer the same problem there) seen the thread and is going to create something similar for Escape. Please thumb the thread and throw this generous fellow some for his efforts if you think this is going to be useful (I think that is an understatement myself)
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Cameron Chien
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I've played Space Alert probably approaching 150 times, and the fact that the timing of the threats is fixed to the soundtracks has NEVER been an issue.

I don't see how knowing when the gongs are coming even matters, because you will be a varied distance away from the entrance tile, and you might be trying to do something else, or have a trapped room curse, or any other number of variables.

Cameron
 
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Houserule Jay
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Zeede wrote:
I've played Space Alert probably approaching 150 times, and the fact that the timing of the threats is fixed to the soundtracks has NEVER been an issue.

I don't see how knowing when the gongs are coming even matters, because you will be a varied distance away from the entrance tile, and you might be trying to do something else, or have a trapped room curse, or any other number of variables.

Cameron


Well I guess you underestimate the severity of losing a die. We don't, and therefore we explore like crazy untilwe know the gong is coming, and usually start heading back about 30 seconds BEFORE the gong happens (depending of course how far away you are). This is such an obvious tactic after you have played enough to know the soundtrack, losing a die is really a huge blow to your game.

Not just that, part of the excitement in the first 5 games was NOT knowing exactly when the gong was going to happen, that is lost for us
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Michael Nerman
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pratchettfan777 wrote:

Clearly the designer has take que from Space Alert with the CD soundtrack pacing.

This does make sense, of course, and I can't believe that more designers haven't also grabbed onto the mechanism.

Well, it's not as though Space Alert was the first game to use something like that. There's Nightmare and Star Trek: The Klingon Challenge, that both used VHS tapes to control the pacing of the game and have timed events.
 
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Neil Wilson
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I bought this game today but am already planning to make different tracks for it. How about an 11 minute version for first time players or a 9 minute version for the experts ? I'd happily make these available to people for free as mp3 files via emails, as long as there's no worry about copyright infringement. Message me with your ideas and I'll do some over the weekend.
 
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