Daily Illuminator

March 10, 2021: Trying To Get Out Of These Rooms

I have never visited an actual escape room, although my sister used to take her law students once or twice a semester. She said it was a great approach to teach people how to break out of their standard thought experiences. Having the team working together is not new, but when one person suddenly opens up and sunlight appears from the most quiet person in the class . . . that can be special.

Not all of us are law teachers and students, but you can have fun with escape rooms from two companies I really enjoy . . .

The first is EXIT: The Game, from Thames & Kosmos. In these sets, you're looking through cards and other items as you go from area to area, sometimes collecting items you'll need later (sometimes MUCH later) and sometimes cutting, writing, and squilling through insane puzzles that don't make any sense until, somehow, they do. The EXIT games do give you some clue cards, and you'll probably need them, especially because you're destroying pieces as you go and if you do things in the wrong order, um . . . yeah, just don't do that. The simpler games can be played by 1 to 4 players in about an hour; the hardest puzzle may still be noogling you a lot longer. The only real problem is that these are single-play, because you WILL be making your pieces into messes before you are done. (Kosmos has also created The Adventure Games, who use similar ideas with a more roleplaying approach, but I haven't let had a chance to play those. Let me know in the forums if you've had a chance, because I want to hear about them!)

For those of you who flatly refuse to rip up your games, there is Unlock! from Space Cowboys. The Unlock! games can be replayed as many times as you want because all your testing is on check phone, checking your time, and always, ALWAYS making you watch the minutes wind down as you keep messing up your math. Solving the final check and escaping is a win, even if it's a late one, and then you have a set you can reorder to try again or swap with a friend to try something new. Having all the choices seems like a drawback until you play the game and find not just the order of the problems but how you have to find the rights to solve a number . . . and two equal answers, only one of which is correct. It's insidious and a huge amount of fun.

There are other companies that have their own twisted escape rooms for your next game nights if you run through all your EXIT and Unlock! sets, or just want to try another variation, but these are my two to get your group started. If you're interested, grab one of the easier ones and give it a try! . . . and don't assume that "easier" is exactly what it means.

-- Andrew Hackard

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