This subscription box is like an escape room in your house
Escape the Crate is an exciting at-home activity for tweens and teens
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With a tween and a teen in the house it can be difficult to find an activity that everyone enjoys. Occasionally I can get the kids to agree on a movie that I will enjoy, too, and we have found some board games that the whole family likes, but even our favorites become repetitive before too long.
Fortunately, we discovered that escape room games that tweens, teens, and adults enjoy can be played at home. Escape room games are always fun because each one presents a new mystery to solve with a completely new set of clues. These games require working together which means there is a lot less sibling rivalry than when we play competitive games.
We recently tried Escape the Crate, a subscription box that brings the escape room experience right to your home. Our crate came with two challenges that are related but can be played separately.
What is Escape the Crate?
Like other escape room games, Escape the Crate involves solving mysteries ranging from “Escape the Mardi Gras Murders” to “Escape the Ripper.” To solve the mystery, players work out riddles, crack codes, and discover secret objects using clues like news reports, letters, and photographs.
How does Escape the Crate work?
Having never played an Escape the Crate game before, we read all the background materials and instructions to make sure we understood how these particular escape room games are played. Broadly, Escape the Crate games all center on the idea that time travel is possible and there is a secret organization whose job it is to set the timeline straight. This opens up a lot of possibilities for games and offers continuity throughout so each one does not feel like starting from scratch.
The games we played centered on an evil time traveler who brought animals from the Ice Age to the present to open a prehistoric zoo resembling Jurassic Park—but with mammoths and saber tooth tigers instead of dinosaurs. There is also a sample challenge new players complete before getting started to get a feel for the game and how the clues work. I appreciated starting off easy!
How to play the game
Escape the Crate games are played by using clues to solve a series of challenges that become increasingly difficult. These games require both the many items that come in the crate and access to a device. A phone or a tablet is needed to watch video clues and to enter answers to challenges to unlock the next challenge.
Our box included items to enhance the story such as a park map, emergency whistle, postcards, and an entrance ticket. To complete the game players also watch several videos including a weather report and recording of a phone call. These all contain important clues and we had to examine most of them more than once to catch small pieces of key information that can be easily overlooked.
Each challenge comes with several clues players can access if they need help. The first clue is always very broad and the clues become more and more specific as you go along. The instructions encourage players to attempt to solve the challenges without the use of clues, but they are there if you need them—along with the answer to the challenge in case you really get stuck and just want to move onto the next step.
My family did need to access at least one clue for all of our challenges, but I was left with the impression that if we continued to play additional games we would become more adept at making connections between the clues and would be able to get by without them. However, we were able to solve every challenge without needing to look up the answer.
It is also possible to time yourself playing for an additional challenge. Escape the Crate gives suggested time frames for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players who want to add an extra challenge. For our crate the suggested time was between 45 and 75 minutes, but we chose not to time ourselves. I did note that it took us just over an hour to solve our first mystery, so Escape the Crate’s estimated time for beginners was fairly accurate.
If you misplace a clue, or if a preschooler happens to run off with a key item as happened in my house, don’t worry! Escape the Crate gives the option to print out clues that go missing.
How much does Escape the Crate cost?
Escape the Create subscriptions start at $29.99 for two months, and go up to $159 for 12 months. Two months’ worth of games are typically shipped in the same crate so there is no need to wait until the next month to play the second game.
It’s important to note that crates are shipped during the first week of each month, and there was a delay in receiving my crate. This was not an issue for my family but if you are planning an escape room party or a special family game night you will want to plan accordingly. If you are in a rush you can also purchase a retired game that will ship the week it is ordered. Themes range from one centered around a rock n’ roll spy to finding a World’s Fair killer.
What we thought of Escape the Crate
We had mixed feelings about some aspects of the game, but we really enjoyed playing it.
One negative is that each Escape the Crate can only be played once. Once the mystery is solved that’s it—you need to wait for the next mystery to arrive in the mail to play again.
Escape the Crate is also somewhat more methodical than some other escape room games my family has played. My kids enjoy tearing into clues willy nilly, but the Escape the Crate game we played clearly stated that some cards needed to be placed with a certain side up because the opposite side contains spoilers.
Overall, I think that Escape the Crate is loads of fun and worth the tradeoff. Most other escape room games don’t have videos or offer as many clues, plus I really like the idea of new mysteries regularly arriving in the mail instead of needing to shop for new games on a regular basis.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.