Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
on 28 December 2014
After playing 4 games this evening, Escape has probably become my new favourite board game. In fact, I'm kicking myself for not buying it sooner.
If you didn't already know, Escape is played in REAL TIME. Once the CD is started (tracks are also available online), atmospheric music and sound effects will commence the 10 most stressful minutes of your tabletop-life. Each player will frantically roll their dice in order to explore the temple and solve puzzles, re-rolling as many times as they wish until they get the results needed. The aim of the game is to escape through the exit (which needs to be found) but in order to do so, all of the players have to collectively activate enough of the temple's "gems" (rooms will have individual requirements for activating gems).
Over the course of the game, there are three gongs that are played on the CD. After hearing the first or second, all players must rush back to the starting tile before a timer or they will permanently lose a die from the game, making all of their subsequent rolls much harder. After the third gong, all players are reminded that time is nearly up before the temple collapses, forcing them to hurry towards the exit. In addition to this, rolling a black mask on a die locks it and prevents you from re-rolling until you find a golden mask to unlock it. Quite often you will end up locking many of your dice and not be able to do anything until someone else saves you.
Escape is stressful. As soon as the music starts, the mood in the room always changes. Suddenly everyone becomes dead serious and concentrates at the task in hand. Players will be moving around the temple and often helping each other to activate gems or unlock each others' dice. In order to win the game, everyone has to escape, meaning that you often have to go out of your way to help each other out - but - every act of generosity is so greatly appreciated making everyone at the table feel a great sense of camaraderie or great loss if something goes badly. Also, because each player is constantly trying to deal with their own dice, this game is not prone to the aggressive leader problem that occurs in many co-op games (where one player knows what's best and tells everyone else what to do).
Escape is smart. It's well balanced too, usually putting up a stiff challenge that might take you a few goes to beat. It's hard, but it feels fair and beating the game as a team feels like a genuine achievement, especially when the CD is playing dramatic music for the temple doors closing and you just squeeze through in the last seconds to win the game. It's nerve wracking but incredibly exciting.
What's more, it's a really easy and accessible game to play. Good for 1-5 players (but increasingly exciting with more people), it's also guaranteed to finish exactly within 10 minutes - meaning you can play this multiple times in an evening (and people will want to) or slip it in between games for a quick session. It's also pretty easy to explain to new people, with an included audio tutorial and a pretty helpful rulebook. The rules themselves are not very complex, so many different people will be able to understand how to play it - the challenge itself is dealing with the pressure of the dice rolling!
If I have any complaints it's that the strategy to winning becomes quite apparent after a while (hint: always work together!) and the game feels highly anticlimactic when you win with lots of time to spare. Luckily you can make the game harder again by adding additional gems and this is how I'll be playing from now on. However it probably would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the base box, some more "meat" for the seasoned gamers.
I'm so impressed with Escape though, it's like no other game in my collection. The CD is fantastic and really sets a tangible atmosphere, using decent sound effects to convey information to the players. The game itself is frantic dice rolling, but it's surprising just how engrossed you might become in the adventure, especially with the music, to the point you might just feel like you're actually there in the temple. It's full of great moments, whether you all work together to activate a bunch of gems, save your friend who's locked all his dice or even when you fail to get back to the gong room and lose a die - every event feels important. It sucks you in.
The components are great, the artwork is great.. it feels like a well crafted product. There are some included modules that add additional rules and flavour to the game and also two separate boxed expansions I look forward to trying in future, but even in it's basic form the game is a treat. It's hard to really convey in writing just how exciting this game is, but everyone has loved it and I couldn't recommend it highly enough to just about anyone.