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Escape: The Curse of the Temple» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Quick review of prototype played at BGGCon rss

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Adam Kunsemiller
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At BGGCon this year, Queen's Games had staked out a table in front of the hot games room, and passing by multiple times I noticed them playing this game that seemed to be quick and hectic and had everyone laughing, which was more than enough to draw me in! Please take this review with a slight grain of salt, as it is totally from memory of a game I played several months ago, and that game itself was in a prototype state.

What is it?
Escape is a realtime cooperative dungeon exploration game. I know that sounds like quite a mouthful, but I’ll expand further. The overall object of the game is to find the exit to the dungeon, disable a variety of things that are preventing the players from leaving the dungeon, and ultimately escaping before the time runs out. This game is played with a soundtrack to provide the time pressure and occasional events that occur throughout the dungeon. It’s a very light, hectic, fun-through-chaos experience. Once the game is all set up and everyone knows how to play, a game takes around 10 minutes.

How to play
Each player controls one adventurer and has a pool of (5 I think?) dice. The dice have 2 foot icons, one blue interaction icon (interacting with mechanical things) one red interaction icon (represents strength based interaction) a healing icon and a pain/damage icon. There are a few things going on here, a bulleted list is probably the easiest way to sum it up:
- Dice can be rolled as frequently as you want
- You may choose which dice to reroll, banking away certain rolls if they are what you are looking for
- Pain dice may not be rerolled, they are locked in place as pain dice
- Heal dice may be used to reroll two pain dice
- Players may use their dice together if they are in the same room (ie: one player using a healing die to unlock another players pain dice, or both players pooling blue dice together to reach a high total of blue dice)
- Players may not user their dice together with other players to travel between tiles, reveal new tiles, or leave the dungeon
- Players don’t have to wait for other players to roll dice or decide what they are doing with their dice
- If you are using dice to accomplish something, you must have all the dice to accomplish that thing at once, no turning in things a bit at a time. (For example, it takes 2 feet to reveal a new tile, you can’t use one foot, reroll that die, and then use it again as a foot, etc.)

Dice are used to reveal new tiles as well as to travel between tiles. The dungeon itself has power crystals that prevent the players from leaving the dungeon (I’m making up that term, they were markers of some sort). The various tiles present opportunities to remove power crystals from the dungeon (making it easier to escape). Once you discover the dungeon exit, the difficulty to escape is based on the number of crystals left in the dungeon.

This whole time there is a soundtrack which mostly is just providing ambiance and background, but it will periodically start to swell and sound menacing, indicating that a dungeon wide trap is about to be sprung. At this point, players race back to their starting tile, which is the only safe room, and if they don’t make it, they lose one of their 5 dice permanently. The soundtrack also provides the time limit on escaping the dungeon, which is why the game will only ever take 10 minutes, cause once the time is up, either you have already won, or the game is over and you’ve lost.

There are some advanced game rules, things like treasure chests in tiles that alter the game, or curses that make the game harder, I won’t really go into those here, but suffice to say, there are a few additional layers if the base game starts to feel too plain.

Putting it all together
So the game goes something like this; the clock starts and you start rolling like crazy, looking at first to explore new tiles. Whenever an opportunity comes up to earn power crystals, you try your best to maximize that and pull it off. In our games, we found ourselves splitting into two teams of two so that you could pool dice with another person, but we were multitasking and getting multiple things done at once. Occasionally everyone will have to rush back to the start room for a dungeon wide trap. Someone will finally find the dungeon exit, and if the remaining power crystal count is reasonable, everyone will rush over and try to exit, if not, people try and remove those last few crystals before heading out.

The Review
So did I like it? I loved it! This is pure, unadulterated, hectic fun. Due to the time pressure and the mood of the theme, people are rolling like crazy, trying to balance doing the most with their dice while also supporting the players they are running around the dungeon with. It wasn’t uncommon, while playing, to hear players yelling “I NEED HEALS!!!!!!” or one player being locked in a room somewhere with all black dice while another player had to make a mad dash to hopefully go help them out and unlock some with some healing dice. Add on to this the dungeon wide traps, at which point everyone freaks out and all hell breaks loose (this is typically when someone will get separated from a partner and possibly locked out with black dice) and you have an edge of your seat adrenaline generator that is simply fun. Let’s be clear, this is essentially a filler game, it’s not going to be satisfying on a deep intellectual level, but it will be fun. That fact that it only takes 10 minutes is perfect for this game. It’s also very easy to explain and play; I could easily see little kids playing this game.

Seeing this at BGGCon was interesting, I saw two types of groups playing it. One type was a group that embraced it as a silly romp and obviously had tons of fun with it, and another group was taking it a bit too seriously, focused too heavily on the goal of escaping the dungeon rather than the experience of playing the game. The way I could tell this group was taking it too seriously is that they were watching the time on the cd, trying to predict when the dungeon trap was going to hit. While this makes sense from a “winning the game” perspective, it doesn’t really make sense from an “embracing the experience” perspective. I also noticed that when the game was over, groups of this type seemed to walk away with a “Meh, it was OK I guess” reaction to the game.

So overall I would say this game was phenomenal. If they had been willing to sell me their prototype, I would have taken them up on it. I think Queen’s Games has a real winner on their hands here. Yes, it’s just filler, but it is wonderful filler. This was the kind of game where after playing it, I wanted to play it again, and again .... and again. Then I wanted to start seeking out gaming friends of mine at the Con and play it with them, etc.
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Mousey
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The Soundtrack, was it heavy on text?
How easy woud it be to play this in another language?
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Kevin Gordon
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Thanks for the write up!

Is the soundtrack the same every time, or are there different tracks?
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Clayton Helme
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Thanks for the review! This game is quickly moving to the top of my wishlist as I really have been trying to find a good "Indiana Jones" theme game that doesn't take too long to play and that "non-gamers" would enjoy.

I know it was just a prototype, but did it have a cool Indiana Jones theme-y feel to it?
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J Berman
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Agreed. This has been my most anticipated game since the BGG News Post in November. (Article 27 comes in a close second).

Thanks for the writeup. It sounds every bit as good as I imagined.

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Kristian Amundsen Østby
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Mousey wrote:
The Soundtrack, was it heavy on text?
How easy woud it be to play this in another language?

All game components (including the soundtrack) will be fully language independent in the published game.
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Adam Kunsemiller
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Mousey wrote:
The Soundtrack, was it heavy on text?
How easy woud it be to play this in another language?


The soundtrack was mostly ambient background noise. The only actual words were an occasional countdown and that's it.

kevster wrote:
Thanks for the write up!

Is the soundtrack the same every time, or are there different tracks?


My understanding is that the soundtrack will be the same, but I wouldn't be surprised if they mixed that up a bit. It would be easy to compare the use of a soundtrack to space alert, but they are very different. The soundtrack here can be seen more as a timer than an integral part of the game. Whereas space alert will have instructions and things that directly affect gameplay, the only thing really indicated on this soundtrack was countdowns for dungeon traps and the end of the game. Although it did nicely add to the feel of the game, it wasn't really important to fundamental gameplay. The fact that a dungeon trap always happens at 3 and 7 minutes, or whatever, isn't really going to tarnish one play to the next, the variety seems to come from the order in which the tiles are revealed, the treasures that you find, and the general fun of the chaos of things.

Crimson_Phoenix wrote:
Thanks for the review! This game is quickly moving to the top of my wishlist as I really have been trying to find a good "Indiana Jones" theme game that doesn't take too long to play and that "non-gamers" would enjoy.

I know it was just a prototype, but did it have a cool Indiana Jones theme-y feel to it?


No, but this was definitely due to the prototype nature. The figures were from munchkin, the dice were just colored dots with a legend printed up on what dots meant (and in this case, green dots and yellow dots were equivalent, which confused a lot of players) really the only thing that was even close was the graphics on the tiles. I have no doubt that they will definitely do right in this area though.
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Kevin Gordon
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Crimson_Phoenix wrote:
Thanks for the review! This game is quickly moving to the top of my wishlist as I really have been trying to find a good "Indiana Jones" theme game that doesn't take too long to play and that "non-gamers" would enjoy.


While waiting for this game to come out, I would suggest you take a look at The Adventurers if you haven't already. Very fun, easy to learn, quick to play game that has a great Indy Jones feel.
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Clayton Helme
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I've actually got that one but it kinda fell a little flat with my family. But that was a while ago, maybe I'll try to reintroduce it soon and see what happens!
 
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Galen Ciscell
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This game actually reminds me a lot of Escape The Mad Mummy. Aside from sharing the word "Escape" in the title, both are similarly themed and play in real-time. Mad Mummy does have turns, but they are timed turns in which you roll and move (and collect treasure) as many times as you can before the timer (a giant cube) falls. Since I dig Mad Mummy and I enjoy cooperative games, I suspect I will love this game, based on Adam's review!
 
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Benjamin Maggi
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I have wanted Space Alert for awhile but the theme didn't grab me. As a huge Indiana Jones fan, I am very interested in this game.
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Adam Kunsemiller
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Benjamin Maggi wrote:
I have wanted Space Alert for awhile but the theme didn't grab me. As a huge Indiana Jones fan, I am very interested in this game.


I want to be clear that this and space alert don't really belong in the same room together. Yes, they are both real time co-ops and yes they both involve a soundtrack, but that's about the extent of it. This game is much faster, lighter, streamlined, and easy to grok. Space Alert is much more intricate and involved, not to mention difficult to play. This isn't to say Space Alert is worse, it's just *different*

In space alert you have to balance timing, understanding what different cards do, managing the power and actions taken in different rooms, wiggle the mouse, etc. It's hectic, but it's also *complicated* making it all the more rewarding when everything manages to come together.

In Escape, you take this basic mechanism (roll dice like crazy and try to get certain combinations based on your situation) and just milk it for as much fun as you can.

They are both totally separate games, and I could easily see someone loving one and not the other, etc.
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Michael Denman
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Reading this review, I kept thinking of Sidibaba, a great team competitive/co-op we discovered at BGG Con. I wish I'd have seen this one as well!
 
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Adam Kunsemiller
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Trump wrote:
Reading this review, I kept thinking of Sidibaba, a great team competitive/co-op we discovered at BGG Con. I wish I'd have seen this one as well!


Funny you mention that, I saw it too and was trying to track it down recently, no luck It appears to be on the back burner for now.
 
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Michael Denman
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rhitmojo wrote:
Trump wrote:
Reading this review, I kept thinking of Sidibaba, a great team competitive/co-op we discovered at BGG Con. I wish I'd have seen this one as well!


Funny you mention that, I saw it too and was trying to track it down recently, no luck It appears to be on the back burner for now.


I think it has a February release date.
 
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Adam Kunsemiller
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I geekmailed Stefan B (from asmodee) and he replied, I get the impression they are working through some road bumps and it won't be any time soon (and not the February date that has been quoted before) I would love to be wrong about that though!

Trump wrote:
rhitmojo wrote:
Trump wrote:
Reading this review, I kept thinking of Sidibaba, a great team competitive/co-op we discovered at BGG Con. I wish I'd have seen this one as well!


Funny you mention that, I saw it too and was trying to track it down recently, no luck It appears to be on the back burner for now.


I think it has a February release date.
 
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Greg White
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rhitmojo wrote:
they were watching the time on the cd, trying to predict when the dungeon trap was going to hit.
easy solution to that would be to have multiple soundtracks with the trap timer set at differing times. then use a simple shuffle method on the mp3 player/cd player to select the track.
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NZRPGR wrote:
rhitmojo wrote:
they were watching the time on the cd, trying to predict when the dungeon trap was going to hit.
easy solution to that would be to have multiple soundtracks with the trap timer set at differing times. then use a simple shuffle method on the mp3 player/cd player to select the track.

Sounds like something that may pop up for free on their web site after the game's release (or as a stretch goal to backers on Kickstarter). If not, I am sure we will see fan-made tracks like we did with Space Alert.
 
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10 minute CD...I may just go with Neil Young's 'Cowgirl In The Sand'. And I quote "It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game." Clocks in at 10:02 on the Decade album.
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