Escape the Crate Review + Coupon – “Mardi Gras Murders”
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 “Mardi Gras Murders” 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 “Mardi Gras Murders” 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 and charged.
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 upfront what needs to be cut, 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 (although I detest how he says the word “open”). I’ve noticed a few places where the spoken words differ slightly from the written ones, but it’s really not a big deal.
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. That being said, when I’ve played with a timer, the ominous tick-tick-tick of the clock makes it very tempting to “cheat” at least once or twice. For this adventure, we played without a timer (see why, below) and only used one hint when we were absolutely stuck.
The setting for this box was Mardi Gras, the Oleander Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans to be precise. Although this adventure didn’t really include the historically factual nuggets that most do, we did learn a bit about palm reading!
I really liked the changed format of this particular game. Usually there are a few different puzzles you are solving concurrently and you kind of bounce in between them all. This time, however, things were more linear — solve clue A to advance to clue B, and so on. This approach worked far better for my brain and kept me more focused and sharp. As we moved through the game, we were prompted to make guesses as to who the murderer was. This added a fun, competitive element without taking things off course. I really hope that future boxes follow this model!
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 beaded necklaces and a bright purple party mask. The mask made my face a little sweaty in just the few moments I had it on, however both items will make solid additions to my costume collection.
Take note that you can 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!
I had been trying to get my partner for this box to join me for an Escape the Crate adventure for a while now because he’s brainy and fun (aaaand very cute 🙃) and I knew we’d have a blast. Alas, things kept getting in the way. When our governor issued a Shelter-In-Place order just days before our scheduled plans, I thought we were doomed. However, with a bit of creative thinking and clever use of technology (ie. emailed photos of the box and all contents, plus video chat), we were able to Escape the Crate and have the best socially-distanced time possible. Take that, COVID-19!
For these games, you track the time on your own, honor-system style. For this particular adventure, Escape the Crate suggested 75 minutes for expert/experienced, 90 minutes for regular/casual, 120 minutes for easy/new, or to “play for fun” without a timer.
Due to the logistical challenges this time around, we decided to forego the timer, assuming that it would take a bit longer than normal. Even still (and with a few bio and drink-refill breaks included) we wrapped this baby up in 144 minutes, a time I am quite proud of! Most importantly, we were relaxed and able to simply focus on the fun. The competitive side of me finds it hard to imagine not challenging myself with a timer again in the future, but I really did find this experience much more enjoyable.
The Verdict: This was, by far, my favorite Escape The Crate box. The linear structure of the puzzles made much more sense to my brain, while still challenging it to work hard. I did miss the interesting historical tidbits that the puzzles typically contain, but not so much that it impacted the overall enjoyment. I was thrilled to find that the game could still be played without having to be in the same physical space. Definitely a welcome addition to my short list of “things to do during quarantine” and one I highly recommend!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you’d get the upcoming box. The “Mardi Gras Murders” 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 “Mardi Gras Murders” box?