Escape Room Fun in a Box

Escape Rooms can be incredible fun. Working with friends to solve fiendish puzzles while a clock counts down, everyone pooling their unique talents and knowledge to win the day, Escape Room fun is no longer just for corporate team-building retreats.

That said, it’s not always easy or cheap to get. You generally need to live in a big city, make an appointment ahead of time, and have enough disposable income burning a hole in your wallet. Luckily for us, you can now find Escape Room fun in a box at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy®. Two of the most popular are Unlock from Asmodee and Exit from KOSMOS.

Both games are cooperative and come with a deck of cards that include puzzles, hints, and rewards. The cards are numbered, and often the solution to a puzzle will reveal a number. You flip the card with that number to see if you’ve got the correct solution, and to see what new puzzles it opens up (or that you’ve won the game). Unlock comes with a downloadable app that keeps track of time, offers hints when needed, and handles clues that involve entering a code (and penalizes you with lost time for wrong guesses). Unlock puzzles often involve combining objects, machines, and codes in ways that will feel very familiar to fans of old Infocom-style puzzle games. You’ve got 60 minutes to solve all the puzzles to win, and wrong guesses will cost you time. At the end of the game, the app will give you a score based on how long you took to win and how many hints you needed. Play again to see if you can beat your old score.

Exit is a one-and-done game because you’ll be writing-on, folding, and otherwise mutilating some of the playing pieces. The puzzles are thus a lot more varied than those you’ll find in Unlock. They can also run longer since there’s not a 60-minute deadline, and games can go as long as 90 minutes. You’ll use a multi-wheel dial to line up your solutions which will point you to a card revealing your reward (or penalty if you guessed wrong).

Both Exit and Unlock have three different boxed sets of cards, each with a unique adventure. They can all entertain up to six people and all can also be played solo (except for the Unlock adventure The Island of Doctor Goorse which requires two teams to play). They’re perfect for something different on board-game night or to whip out when killing time with friends. If you crave Escape Room excitement without the travel and expense, you want to pick up both Unlock and Exit.