Escape the Crate is a bi-monthly subscription-box-based game that lets you bring the experience of an escape room home! Every other month, Escape the Crate delivers a new adventure that might involve tasks like deciphering alien languages, murder mysteries, time travel stories, defusing bombs, and more. Escape rooms have become a quickly growing sensation in the last couple of years, so this is a fun way to engage with the craze.
This is a review of the Escape The Crate "World's Fair Killer" box.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Escape The Crate
The Subscription Box: Escape the Crate
The Cost: $29.99 every other month + shipping
The Products: Each box contains the puzzle pieces that go with an escape room-style story designed for 2-4 people to solve. Inside you'll find letters, ciphers, puzzles, tools, objects, etc. that will help to complete the mission.
Ships to: US for $5. Shipping cost varies internationally.
Good to Know: "Retired games" (boxes that are no longer part of the subscription) are often sold as one-time purchases on the Escape the Crate site for $39.99.
Escape the Crate "World's Fair Killer" Review
This information sheet helps get you started with the crate. It tells you how to get everything set up. There's a special link on the Escape the Crate website that will guide you and your "team" (in this case, me and my partner) through the game, so make sure you have a smartphone or computer handy.
Inside the box, we found all sorts of envelopes, papers, puzzles, and props to be used throughout our adventure, including items that required cutting--have your scissors ready!
Having the website guide you through the story/mission of the box means you're not fumbling with a bunch of papers and potentially seeing information that would spoil things later in the game. As you play the game, the site will let you know which materials to open and when. Plus, each step is "locked" by numbers, names, or some other code that you must solve for before you can move on.
You have the option to read or listen to an audio recording of each section. I like this because it appeals to different types of learning/problem-solving styles. I tend to listen to each section first, then skim through the written version of the information to confirm understanding. The voice on the recording also adds a bit of personality to the experience. I've noticed a few places where the spoken words differ slightly from the written ones, but it's not a big deal. For this box, there are two adventures available to complete--double the fun! One was a bit more dark in terms of the content, but nothing too over the top in my opinion. Still, if you have small kiddos helping out, you may wish to save the Serial Killer Game until they've gone to bed. Since my partner and I are both fully grown, we decided to tackle that one first.
At each step, you are given hints that you can view if you need them. There's no penalty for taking a hint, but you are still encouraged to use them sparingly. I am very competitive and also really like to challenge myself, so I have mixed feelings about the hints. I partly wish there was a penalty for using them so that we would be forced to try just a little harder to solve the puzzle in front of us. On the other hand, the ominous tick-tick-tick of the clock makes it very tempting to "cheat" at least a few times. This time around, we made it through the first puzzle (Serial Killer) using only 1-2 hints but got stumped a lot more on the second one.
The setting for this month's adventure was the famous World's Fair in Chicago, IL in 1893. Mission #1 in this box is to find and escape from the "Murder Castle" hotel built by H.H. Holmes, America's first serial killer. Mission #2 is to recover a dropped movie canister with images from the future before anyone else finds it. This one felt like a virtual trip back in time to visit the actual attractions at the Fair!
At one point I thought I wanted to make a career in the medical field and, thus, took a few anatomy classes. Much of that learning has long since been archived, so it took a minute to try to recall the names of some bones required to solve one of the clues. Are the metatarsals are in the feet or hands? I was very grateful for the cheat sheet!
The materials provided in this box were really great. I don't like to wind up with a bunch of "stuff" that can't be reused or just takes up space. Although I do feel with some of these boxes that some of the materials could easily be left out, this time most everything that was essential to the game could be recycled or put to use in some other fun way. I even got a gorgeous engagement ring to wear!
Take note that there is an option to download and print all of the paper components so that you can play again or pass the game along to a friend to try. I am really happy about this!
You track the time on your own, honor-system style. For these two adventures, Escape the Crate suggested 30 minutes for expert/experienced, 45 minutes for regular/casual, 60 minutes for easy/new, or to "play for fun" without a timer.
I left it up to my partner to decide which level we should attempt. He's a first-timer but opted to shoot for the regular/casual, 45-minute window. We wound up going a few minutes over, but still stayed well within the easy/new window so I feel redeemed! Last time, we went quite a bit over which, if I'm being honest, has been eating at my ego ever since!
The Verdict: I enjoyed this Escape The Crate. Having the two puzzles was a little less intense/stressful (for an aggressively competitive person like me, anyway!) and allowed opportunity for a nice leg-stretch break. I always like how they base the puzzles on factual information and share those details with the players. The level of detail put into these adventures is really apparent. They definitely cover the bases.
Of course, there are some cool physical escape rooms out there, and I don't think this subscription could ever replace them. However, if you enjoy challenging your brain with escape-room-style puzzles, this is a wonderful way to get a similar experience without ever having to leave the house!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you'd get the upcoming box. The World's Fair Killer box is available as a standalone purchase but is no longer as part of their bi-monthly subscription.
Value Breakdown: This box cost $29.99 + $5 shipping ($34.99 per month) as part of Escape the Crate's bi-monthly subscription. It's still available as a one-time, individual purchase of $39.99 from their shop. The prices for in-person escape rooms near me are around $24-30 per person. In my opinion, getting an escape room experience for the cost of just one ticket is totally worth it, especially since the experience can be shared and/or repeated.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
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