Recently, (last week: July 2020) I received the newest Unlock box of Escape Room Games: Unlock! Epic Adventures. I played through them all solo (sigh, it’s still hard to get a group together these days) and decided to put up a review. Sooooo … how do you put up a review without giving away too much? And still give the reader something to think about?
So, I’ll give a quick overview (with my thoughts) and discuss some related issues.
There are three adventures in this box:
- The Seventh Screening: An easy (their rating and mine as well) adventure set in a older movie. It’s a light hearted Horror Movie. It’s fun, thematic, easy, and has one of my favorite puzzles I’ve seen in a while in an Escape room game. After I finished it, I immediately called my friend (who loves cheesy horror movies) and said “You have to play this one!”. This is probably in my top 5 Escape Room games.
- The Dragon’s Seven Tests: A medium (their rating: I think it’s harder) adventure with a Zen-like theme as you solve puzzles to become a disciple of the Master. After I played this one, I said to myself “I hated that”. I thought the puzzles were unrelated to the theme, I thought they were obscure, and I hated the real-time puzzle. There were 1 or 2 puzzles that made be smile, but in general, this is one of my least favorite Unlock! games of all time. It’s possible the theme didn’t resonate with me, so maybe you’d like it. I also played it solo: maybe it plays better with a group where different minds can offer different solutions. I didn’t like it.
- Mission #07: A hard (their rating: I think it’s easier) game. Can you find the spy that infiltrated your organization? This is probably in my top 3 Escape Room games of all time! The game moves quickly, it’s immersive, the theme shines through, the puzzles are (mostly) interesting. The very last puzzle was absolutely fantastic. I had a blast playing this, to the point that I look forward to playing it again (in a few years after I have forgotten the puzzles).
In general, really liked the first, hated the second, and LOVED the third game. In general, I’d recommend this Unlock! box of 3 puzzles, even if I didn’t like the second Escape Room! (Okay, so review over?)
Unlock Games: 1 Game vs. 3 Games
In the last few years, the Unlock games were available separately: A favorite was the Unlock: The Adventures of Oz. And you could buy it separately … and you still can for about $14.99 (MSRP).
BUT, newer Unlock releases make you buy all 3 from a set (to be fair, they have been doing this in Europe for while). These are typically $29.99 (MSRP) for all three. To my knowledge, you cannot buy the newest games individually anymore. In other words, I can’t tell you: “Just get the Seventh Screening and Mission #07 game, ignore the Dragon game”. You have to get all 3. (To be fair, the two good ones make it worthwhile).
Bang For The Buck
So, let’s do a cost-benefit analysis from the three major types of Escape Room Games: Unlock, Exit, and Deckscape.
- Unlock games require an app to play them: the games could become unplayable in the future if the company doesn’t keep the app in maintenance. With that proviso , the games are completely replayable. The MSRP for a single game (for those you can get single, not all of them are) is $14.99. Miniatures Market and CoolStuffInc usually have them for $12.99. If you have to buy 3 in a set (like the Epic Adventures of this review), the cost is $29.99 (MSRP) or $23.99 at MM/CSI. Games typically last an hour to 90 minutes. Let’s call that 75 minutes on average.
Cost per hour: ($23.99/1.25 hours)/ 3 Games ~= $6.40 per hour. (for package)
Cost per hour: ($12.99/1.25 hours)/ 1 Games ~= $10.39 per hour (for singles)
- Exit games can only be physically played once (as you rip/tear cards/boxes), and then they are done. You don’t need an app: everything comes in the box. There is one game per box (with one exception). They are dozens of Exit games, usually about $14.95 (MSRP) or $10.99 (MM/CSI) each. Games typically last 60-120 minutes. Let’s call that 90 minutes on average.
Cost per hour: ($10.99/1.5 hours)/ 1 Games ~= $7.33 per hour
- Deckscape is just a deck of cards. You don’t need an app. You also don’t destroy the games: they are completely replayable. There are about 6 out right now. The MSRP is $14.90, $10.99 at MM/CSI. Games typically last 30-90 minutes: let’s call it an hour.
Cost per hour: ($10.99/1.00 hours)/ 1 Games ~= $10.99 per hour
The best bang for the buck are the Unlock games (with three games per box): it only costs about $6.40 per hour to play. And you can pass the games onto your friends, as they are completely replayable. BUT, Unlock games may be obsolete in the future if the app isn’t maintained.
The Deckscape games look the worst bang for the buck (at $10.99 per hour), but they will never be obsolete and you can easily share the game (and the cost) among several groups of friends to bring the cost down to just $3 or $4 per hour.
The Exit games, although they aren’t replayable, have an excitement to them, as you bend, tear, destroy cards as you play! The Exit games tend to be very immersive, but once you are done, you are done. $7.33 per hour is sunk cost: you can never get it back.
In general, it seems like the major Escape Room games cost (on the order of) $10 per hour to play. You can usually only play them once. Is that a good deal? Only you can decide that. Was Unlock! Epic Adventures good? For me, Epic Adventures has two of my favorite Unlock adventures of all time … and one I really didn’t like (possibly my least favorite). So, do the math: is that worth it for you? For me, the two hours of sheer joy and immersion from my two favorites here was totally worth it.