Escape the Crate Review + Coupon – “Circus Heist”
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 “Circus Heist” 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 “Circus Heist” Review
This information sheet helps get you started with the crate. There’s a special link to a website for your specific crate that will guide you and your “team” (in this case, me and some friends) through the game. So make sure you have a smartphone or computer handy and charged. We used a laptop and I think it worked better, since the whole team could see the information at the same time. Sometimes the puzzle you need to solve is on the website.
Having the website guide you through the set-up and story 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 enter on the website before you can continue.
The website also begins with an example puzzle to help you understand how they work. Funnily enough, this one took us a bit to get, because… well, we didn’t know how it worked.
Inside the box, we found all sorts of envelopes, double-sided papers, puzzles, and props to be used throughout our adventure, including items that required cutting — have your scissors ready. Also, it’s a big help to have a pen and paper for notes.
The setting for this box was the Ross Bros. Traveling Circus in 1933. Your team has been sent back in time to save a Tasmanian Tiger, which is the last of its kind. We questioned why we wouldn’t just go back further in time when they were plentiful and take one of those. But I guess that would negate the fun.
You have the option to read or listen to an audio recording of each section. I like this because you can look at the table while the scenario is being read to you. It’s also nice when you need to clarify what you heard. You can find the text without having to search through the audio file. The voice on the recording also adds a bit of personality to the experience.
At each step, you are given the option to receive hints. They start vaguely and get increasingly obvious. There’s no penalty for taking a hint, except maybe a loss of satisfaction from not using one. I personally think there should be a penalty for using them, but, I guess if someone wants to be that hardcore, there’s nothing really stopping them from penalizing themselves. This was our first Escape the Crate and we finished without using any hints. #humblebrag
I liked how the creators controlled the direction of the game. Each step can only be unlocked with an answer of a certain length. Only one room can be opened by a five-digit number. Another needs a seven-letter word, and so on with no repeats. So, you’re not just guessing where to go. If the answer to a puzzle is “elephant,” there will only be one room that can opened by an eight-letter word.
In addition to a few papers, there are generally a handful of props included. This box included a foam elephant, a red clown nose, and a balloon. Each prop will come into play during the escape and you may even end up wearing one of them for the remainder of the game. The box itself also comes into play.
For these games, you track the time on your own. For this particular adventure, Escape the Crate suggested 60 minutes for expert/experienced, 75 minutes for regular/casual, 90 minutes for easy/new, or to “play for fun” without a timer.
Despite it being our first time – and my wife and I taking turns putting our baby back to bed – we finished just under the easy/new limit. We were all happy with this.
Interesting note: The website will help you reset the game, including downloading and printing any lost or destroyed paper components. That way you can play again or pass the game along to a friend to try.
The Verdict: My friends and I love escape rooms and game nights, so we were greatly anticipating this subscription box. It did not disappoint. While it’s not quite the same experience as a real room, we all agreed it was a fun – and cheaper – way to spend a night with friends. A lot of games are competitive, so it was a nice change of pace to cooperate on a common goal. We look forward to future Escape the Crate boxes and what cleverness they will include.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you’d get the upcoming box. The “Circus Heist” 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 “Circus Heist” box?