Escape the Crate Review + Coupon – Escape Alcatraz
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 murder mysteries, time travel stories, tasks like deciphering alien languages, 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 “Escape Alcatraz” 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. Save with longer subscriptions.
COUPON: Use code SUMMER2021 to save 20% off your first box.
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: The 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 “Escape Alcatraz” 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! Pro-tip: If you are able to decipher what needs to be cut upfront, snip away before you start the clock!
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.
The last few boxes have included a sample puzzle of sorts to get you familiar with how things look/feel before beginning your stopwatch. I’ve found them to be generally a lot easier than the real puzzles, so it’s an ego boost if nothing else and gets you excited for what’s to come!
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. For this box we didn’t use too many hints, so I was very happy and proud of us!
The setting for this box was Alcatraz, the famous and fabled prison in San Francisco, California said to have been the most secure place on Earth. Alcatraz housed some of America’s most infamous criminals including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Arthur R. “Doc” Barker, and Whitey Bulger to name a few. One of the reasons I enjoy this box so much is there is always a bit of a history lesson included with the fun!
This box comprised old two separate, but related games. We decided to power though them back-to-back, but in retrospect I sort of wish we had taken a longer break in between to recharge our brains. Does anyone else feel exhausted after playing these?!
In addition to a few papers, there are generally a handful of props included. I hate waste, so I appreciate that they can usually be reused or repurposed. This box included plastic gloves and a toothbrush, both of which can be used for cleaning; a plastic spoon and a marker, two items that are always useful to have; as well as a pair of play handcuffs which I’ll probably use for… well, we’ll see.
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 love that this is an option!
You track the time on your own, honor-system style. For this adventure, 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.
Usually, I will set the timer for the agreed upon goal and let it wind back. This time, I decided to let it count up and stop it at the end to see how we did. This method made things a little less stressful, in my opinion. And look at that, we “won” both games! I would have been happier with 45 minutes or less on game 2, but my partner and I agreed that it was more difficult than the first one. Each time I play these games, I think they will get easier having had experience, yet they remain a challenge! Yes, my ego suffers a bit, but I’m actually glad because I don’t foresee getting bored any time soon.
The Verdict: I liked this Escape The Crate box a lot! The puzzles were challenging, yet made logical sense (save for just one of them, which my partner and I could only conclude to solve was pure guesswork.) I keep saying this, but I hope to try the next one with a bigger group to see if it helps or hinders things. As with anything that pits you against a clock, there may be a tense moment or two during the games depending on the personalities sitting at the table, so I want to be thoughtful about whom I invite to play!
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 “Escape Alcatraz” box is available as a standalone purchase but is no longer as part of their bi-monthly subscription.
COUPON: Use code SUMMER2021 to save 20% off your first box.
Value Breakdown: This box cost $29.99 + $5 shipping ($34.99 per delivery) 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!
What do you think of the Escape the Crate “Escape Alcatraz” box?