Escape Room The Game – Spin Master – Prison Break

Before you can think outside the box, you have to get a box. In this case, that means buying Spin Master’s Escape Room The Game, which comes in a box. Putting the escape room experience in a box is a challenge. The best escape rooms have thematic decorations, immersive environments, and cool props that you physically manipulate to escape. A number of companies are now trying to package the experience, with varying success. See below for the full review.

The Good:

While other games only have one escape room experience per box, Spin Master’s had four. Each of the four had a different theme (which happen to be some of the most common escape room themes: Prison Break, Virus, Nuclear Countdown, and Temple of the Aztec). You get more bang for your buck (or loonie) at about $10 per game.

The Chrono Decoder is also a nice addition. It gives you a visual representation of the countdown and audible confirmation that you got the code right or wrong. This also allows for add-on packs or expansions that can be sent in an envelope and don’t require buying a whole new box.

The Bad:

Great leaps of logic Batman! There were some real stretches in this game. This was the primary problem, especially with Prison Break. A lot of the clues and images are also very small, which may require close-up study, (although, maybe this is to mimic the difficulty with low light in many real escape rooms). You may want to get a magnifying glass and flashlight.

The Ugly:

Back to that Chrono Decoder. When I played the second game (Virus), the decoder kept giving me the wrong buzzer when I really had the right code. I double-checked and tried again. It took a call to Spin Master (who were helpful) before it suddenly started working again.

Should You Get It?

You should only get it if you’re an escape room enthusiast and have already done Stargazer’s Manor and Dr. Gravely’s Retreat and you have $40 to blow. However, if you’re hardcore then you’re going to buy this game even if I say it’s not good.

Get Your Own:

Spin Master’s Escape Room The Game sells for about $39.99 on Amazon, with free shipping. Their listing says the game is for 3 to 5 players, 16 and up, and requires 3 AAA batteries (not included).

In-Depth Review:

This was our third at-home escape room game. Think Fun’s Stargazer’s Manor and Dr. Gravely’s Retreat were the first two. We enjoyed those games and were looking forward to see what Spin Master put together.

Reading the instructions (which is always tedious…kind of like listening to instructions at the beginning of an escape room. Yes, don’t stick a knife in the electrical outlet. But seriously, make sure you read the directions carefully. I skimmed the directions which caused us some avoidable delays).

Putting the batteries into the Chrono Decoder requires a small screwdriver, so get one of those handy. The decoder has multiple purposes. It acts as the countdown timer which begins as soon as you hit the red button. On the sides of the decoder are some decoding aids (including morse code, a Playfair cipher, Pigpen cipher, and Caesar cipher wheel), to help you solve the puzzles. The 4 slots on top act to test your 4-digit clues. There are a number of keys, representing numbers and letters which you insert before hitting the red button to see if you’re right or wrong.

The hint system was pretty good and the clue cards have times on them to keep you on track. However, they only applied to some of the puzzles. If you were stuck on one puzzle that the clue didn’t address, you’d have to go online to their walkthrough to figure out the answer.

Prison Break:

This one didn’t start out well for us. But at this early stage, we were only stretching to get the right answers. When you find differences between two objects, it isn’t always clear which one is the right answer and which is the wrong answer. Another puzzle required you to pick the right numbers out of a multi-numbered clue. These puzzles assume you are thinking what the designers were thinking. We were definitely not. We needed the hints to finish this first part.

After that, things went downhill. One of the cards immediately said there would be a right answer and a wrong answer, so you had to pick the right one. There was a lot of to do to pick the right answer, which I didn’t really follow. It was mostly confusing. Actually, it was very confusing. If I said a picture of a size 10 tennis shoe was the clue, the answer may be: 10 (size), or 2 (a pair of shoes), or count the eyelets, or the shoelace looks like an 8. So just pick the one that the puzzle designer picked and you’ll be fine.

There was also some overlap and redundancy in the clues and puzzles, which is generally avoided in well-designed escape rooms. If you use the Playfair cipher once, you usually won’t have to use it again. If you get a number answer, you generally won’t have to plug it in twice into one formula, such as: (a x b) + c – a = ? After reading the answers in the walkthrough, there are multiple ways to get to the answers, which added to the confusion.

Some of these clues were very also small which required peering very closely at the poster to find the answers. I don’t understand how any more than 2 people could play this game at the same time.

Part 3 was just as bad. No. On second thought, it was worse. By this time we were just annoyed with the game. The 4 parts of this final part were not intuitive to us, or else we’d just given up. There were a thousand answers you could get. On top of that, after reading the walkthrough there are multiple ways you can come up with the seemingly random answers they’d chosen as the correct code. In my shoe analogy, maybe my new answer was N because they were Nikes. Or 14 because N is the 14th letter in the alphabet. Or 216 because tennis shoes = TS, which points to Tunisia on the map, and 216 is the dialing code for Tunisia.

Voila! You’re done! And you’ve wasted $40 which could have gotten you and a friend into an escape room! I did not enjoy the prison break experience, and I’d be surprised if any experienced escape room enthusiast did.

Other Reviews:

At the time of this posting, this was the first English-language escape room enthusiast review of Spin Master’s Escape The Room Game. Most of Amazon’s reviews are from reviewers who were given a free copy of the game, and many of them did not enjoy the game despite getting the game for free. Others seemed a bit over the top. One said they played the game with 10 people and had a great time. I find that very hard to believe.

 

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11 thoughts on “Escape Room The Game – Spin Master – Prison Break

  1. Gosh – I am actually kind-of glad i found your review about this game. We did play it on Christmas Eve since my little Brother (he is 12) got it and wanted to play it with his Escape-Room-Crazy Older Brother. But we struggled so much with all the games .. others posted how easy they found it, but we had the same problems you mentioned here. On top of that, the decoder also didnt take our correct answer in our first run, which was SUPER frustrating

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunate to hear you had a similar impression. I found the three I tried to be very frustrating for different reasons. Not sure if you’ve tried the Think Fun escape room games, but I think they do a much better job.

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  2. Was there something you did that made the decoder finally work or was it just random? We played the first part of Prison Break and had the right code, which was confirmed by the clues, but it still says it’s wrong. Of course, we tried turning it off and on, and entering it over and over, making sure we had the right keys. We tried different batteries after reading the troubleshooting info as well. If we could get this thing to work, we’d be thrilled! As it is, we haven’t picked it up again since that first attempt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I called the company to troubleshoot, and they asked me to call back the next day. Of course, the next day when I called back it suddenly was working again. So it seemed random. Maybe the company can send you a replacement. They seemed to have good customer service. Good luck!

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  3. I played this game with my 15 and 14 year old kids. We played the Prison Break and actually had a great time. We were able to solve it and get out without having to use some of the ‘free’ clues too. I somewhat think that having my kids play vs just adults play, helped as their perspective can often be different and more creative than what adults may think or expect would be a logical path – much like many of your frustrations you shared in your review. I personally think the game was well designed and much fun to play. Looking forward to the next included adventure.
    For what it’s worth, I bought this off Amazon a few weeks before Christmas, not a paid reviewer or didn’t get the game for free.

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    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. It seems to get mixed reactions. For me, the malfunction during the second theme was enough to seal my impression. If that hadn’t happened, maybe I’d have tried all 4. For 4 games at that price, it’s probably worth giving it a try. You can always pack it up and give it to a friend when you’re done. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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  4. I just played Prison break with my wife, 12 y/o twins, and 10 year old. Everything worked, we just needed one clue at the last part. The kids are already begging to play another game. We have done two actual escape rooms, this game just gives it a different twist, but i believe it is set up to be more enjoyable for kids. They loved looking at the map and different pictures and trying to find tiny “clues”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you and your family enjoyed the game, and it sure is cheaper than taking a family of 4 to an escape room. Some people seemed to love it, others (including myself) less so. Maybe playing with kids is the way to go. For me, the malfunction was the final nail in the coffin, and I’ve heard of others who had a similar problem. If you haven’t tried the Think Fun games (Dr. Gravely’s and Stargazer’s Manor), give those a try, although each is a one-time only game. I’d like to know how you think they compared. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  5. I’m 20 and my boyfriends 25. We bought this game at Walmart for $34 something, thought it looked very interesting. Little did we know what we were getting into. The two of us laughed when we saw the timer was a full 60 minutes, i tried to argue that the time was a little over kill. I thought originally we would only need 15 minutes to complete each level… In reality we spent over TWO HOURS playing the first adventure but couldn’t find a single connection to anything. Every possibility we thought of was wrong. We tired looking up answers for the board game but kept finding links to youtube that were some digital game that wasn’t the same. And if you visited the official website it asked you to give an answer for the level you were on and obviously we just typed whatever and it was wrong, but it never told us the actual answer or how to solve it. It just said ” your answer is incorrect.” And we never found anything else about the actual board game. I seriously am open to any and all games but this was a waste of money and time, I am not stupid nor is my boyfriend, this game just doesn’t make any logical sense like escaperoomer said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. People seem to be all over the place with this game. Some people really liked it. But, like you, I found it frustrating. It might be worth trying the second game in the box. I liked it much better than Prison Break. Then I had problems with #3 and gave up and got rid of the game. Good luck! If you want to try another escape room game in a box, I liked Think Fun’s games better.

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