ESCAPE FROM HOME - ONLINE & PRINT AT HOME GAMES
The team at Escape From Home pride themselves on creating outstanding experiences which can be had from the comfort of your own home, Check out these three games which we have had the pleasure of playing!...
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ESCAPE FROM HOME - DARKWOOD MANOR
PADLOCK RATING; 4 - GREATLY RECOMMENDED
A well thought out print at home game. Aimed at the whole family, with great child friendly puzzles, this will be a hit with kids and newcomers alike.
So the story - On the eve of her wedding day to Master Darkwood, mischievous Emily wanted to play one last prank on her soon to be husband and hid in the attic. Over time she grew restless and to pass the time she put on her wedding dress.Hearing a noise, she ran to hide inside a chest in the attic, however the chest locked with her inside. Sending his maids to track her down, they soon discovered Emily's death. Following her funeral, Master Darkwood left the home for good and it has been locked up ever since. Rumour has it that the ghost of Emily still haunts the building - Your mission is to track down her ghost and unlock the mysterious of this long closed household.
The first thing that was evidently noticeable is the attention to detail in the opening story. Many would simply open with "there is a ghost in the house" however this attention to detail really set the scene and gave you insight into the character and helps provide some depth to the story (which is clearly difficult with a print at home style game).
In terms of puzzles we were really impressed with these. The Escape From Home designers have cleverly created a strong mix of written games and some slightly more interactive puzzles, where the kids can get their colouring pencils and scissors out to really feel part of the game. There are a few games which clearly children would find difficult on their own, but with some adult guidance they would smash it. The puzzles presented are also a good split of some more lengthy games coupled with some quick punchy ones so nothing becomes too relentless - so don't worry about the kids attention span! As you would expect, given the family target audience, experienced gamers would find a few of the games slightly easier, however dont be fooled - we did have to use some clues!
Theme for the game was good and the puzzles match these well - as you work your way around the mansion house you visit different rooms and these puzzles match nicely with the theme - with "older" looking materials staying on point.
In terms of game play, the designers suggest that this game is played with a game master being in charge and then providing clues from an accompanying printable document. The clues are certainly helpful and provide just enough guidance without being a total giveaway. Alternatively, as we did, you can also play without a game master and simply check your answers via a link on the website, where you can hover to reveal your answers. This worked very well for us.
As an alternative method, you can also "hide" the documents and evidence around your own home and turn this into a proper play at home experience as opposed to a table top game. Given the theme of the game, placing puzzles in different rooms in the house would be a great idea!
An additional mention should go to the printable certificate and props which can be used for a photograph opportunity at the end of the game - a real great personal touch. Also the fact that there is a printer friendly option and the fact that this can also be printed in black and white without effecting the game play is a nice touch.
When all was said and done, we really enjoyed this game. The back story was good and nicely detailed, the puzzles were varied and strong, and all was very well pitched towards the target audience of younger guests and families. Do yourself a favour and visit the Manor - you never know what you'll find inside!
ESCAPE FROM HOME - HISTORY REWRITTEN
PADLOCK RATING; 4 - GREATLY RECOMMENDED
A cleverly written combination of online and print at home puzzles with a time travel narrative that is sure to be a hit with hardened gamers!
In terms of story, you receive a response letter from History Re-Written Inc. - advising you that your application for their experiment has been successful. What follows is a mission through time to rewrite history on some world changing moments.
Although the back story isn't vast and you are basically straight into the game after receiving your acceptable letter, I really like the theme to this - trying to place this type of experience into a physical room would be exceptionally difficult, so the team at Escape From Home have certainly grasped the current lock down situation with both hands and let their creative juices flow! The use of time travel means that the possibilities within this game are endless and each scenario you face is unexpected, which allows the game to keep you on your toes as you work your way through history!
The way this game combines both online puzzles and print at home materials is a nice touch - in some puzzles you will be faced with online evidence, coupled with a downloadable print out and vice versa. Other puzzles include a slight bit of online research while others are purely online game only. The variation in puzzle types keeps this game alive well - it is clearly evident that the Escape From Home team have taken a lot of time to develop this game into a well-rounded product but note you will find yourself carrying out multiple downloads through the game and inputting web addresses - embrace this as part of the game play and you are sure to love it!
In terms of the puzzles, these are all very strong. The opening puzzle is quite simple (although we did mess it up to start off with!), but soon after that you will find the difficultly level sharply increase! There are one or two puzzles within the game which are a real highlight, the likes of which I hadn't seen before. And although many of the games are taxing, all are certainly achievable - sit back, take in all the evidence and try not to rush your way through. There is no time limit to this game so there isn't the need for too much tension!
The game also includes the option of a separate web page which provides well appointed hints to each of the individual puzzles - if in doubt, use them! We did on a number of occasions where we just needed a gentle nudge to see us through! If you get really stuck, you can also reveal the answer to help move you onto the next scenario.
All the puzzles stick strictly to the theme of each historic event to which they are related to, which provides a level of realism to each puzzle. Where there is text to read, this is written appropriately for the era to which it relates. Without spoilers, there are two particular historic events which really hit a chord with the team.
Its certainly safe to say that this games is not for newcomers. The puzzle difficulty slowly ramps up as your work your way through the historical events, therefore younger team members and less experienced gamers would likely struggle. Again, that said, you could still manage to be successful with this by using the hints section of the website. Similarly, many of the puzzles within the game are lengthy so don't think this is a game which you will smash through in 30 mins! Get the team together, get some drinks and nibbles and make an evening event of it! Those with an attention span of a toddler need not apply! It took us just short of 2 and a half hours so you certainly get your monies worth!
All in all, a very well designed and creative online/print at home hybrid game which includes a clever narrative, some stunning attention to detail in terms of the historic events and some well appointed, (if a little tricky) puzzles! Certainly one for the more experienced gamer, this game will be sure to keep you on your toes as you attempt to rewrite history!
ESCAPE FROM HOME - THE ZOOKEEPERS RESCUE
PADLOCK RATING; 5 - OUTSTANDING
A very cute, perfectly appointed print at home game for young children, to give them a little taste of escape rooms, with a theme that they will certainly all embrace!
A nice, simple story - you are the zookeeper of a local zoo. When you arrive at work to open up for the day, the animals have escaped! You need to get all the animals back into their enclosures before the zoo opens in one hour!
Lets face it, what child is not going to love that?! Puzzles and animals is a match made in heaven for many under 9's so this game pitched perfectly to my son and niece (9 and 7 years old!), who were VERY excited to play it and just as excited when they completed it!
In terms of the puzzles, these are very basic and certainly hit a chord with the children. They are a great first step into the world of escape rooms, where they use animals related puzzles to decipher riddles to find padlock numbers. There are 5 key puzzles in all, however these aren't purely stand alone - the children will have to work together using different pieces of each puzzle in order to find the padlock code. Many games are based on basic magazine-style/puzzle book games (word search, spot the difference etc) so they aren't too daunting for kids - and parents wont need a degree to give them a helping hand!
The graphics within the game are very cute, child friendly and are very inviting. We played this with myself as the game master so I had cut out and folded all the materials that they needed to use within the game - however, for extra fun you could certainly let the kids do that - or even, hide the materials all around the house to let them find them, to make this into a proper escape room play at home style game.
As with other Escape From Home print at home games, they have certainly thought about the end user here - as such, the PDF download pack includes certificates and posters for the children play to award their success - which are great for the "we did it" photo opportunities when you gave completed your mission! For us cautious parents, the pack also includes a low ink print version to keep your own printing costs down (which is a really great touch).
All in all, this kid-facing game ticked all the right boxes with our 7 and 9 year old gamers. The puzzles were perfectly placed, the theme hit a chord and the printed materials were cute and eye catching. For the target audience, neither me nor the kids could fault it! Children are sure to love it - so let them embrace their inner zoo keeper!