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 The High Seas" 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.
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.
Also, 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.
Escape the Crate "Escape the High Seas" Review
Every box comes with an information sheet that helps get you started with the game. There's a special link to a website for your specific crate that will guide you and your "team" (in this case, me and my wife) 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. So a bigger, shared screen is better.
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. Also, it's a big help to have a pen and paper for notes. There was also something to cut this month, so get some scissors too.
The website also begins with an example puzzle to help you understand how they work.
Inside the box, there are all sorts of envelopes, double-sided papers, puzzles, and props to be used throughout the adventure. Usually, everything you need to unlock the next step comes from the clues on the papers, props, or website. The presentation gets better with every installment. As does the creativity of the puzzles.
For the Escape the Crate experiences, you play as part of a team that travels through time to solve murders, save extinct species, or retrieve relics. The setting for this box is 1720 in the pirate haven of Nassau. This month's box is played in three chapters. They are to be done in order and get more difficult as you go. I thought the chapters were a nice touch this time because it gives you a chance to take a break if you need.
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. It has been the same person every time for us so far.
At each step, you are given the option to receive hints. They start vague and get increasingly obvious. They are there to help you stop from being too frustrated. Sometimes you just need that extra help. We've completed boxes without hints, but also had some when we needed several. It's nothing to beat yourself up about. It's about having a good time.
Each step can only be unlocked with a name, word, or number. The website will say, "You need a five-letter word." However, this is a cheat at times. Sometimes you can make an educated guess because you know how many letters or digits there are. And it's usually a word that relates to the theme. So, if you figure out the first two letters are P-L, it's not hard to guess the word is PLANK. I will say, now that I've done a few of these, the creators know you're looking for the easy answer and often come up with creative ways of making you think outside the box ... er, I mean crate.
In addition to a few papers, there are generally a handful of props included. This box included a quill, gold coin, eye patch, and a special die. Each prop will come into play during the escape and you may use them in a way you didn't originally expect. The box itself also comes into play.
If you feel so inclined, you can time yourself. The website says each chapter should take about 40 minutes, but it's more about working together to figure out puzzles. I personally like to play with several people, because everybody's mind works differently and it's good to have so many different sets of eyes on the puzzles. However, due to conflicting schedules, this month it was just me and my wife. We found it rather difficult to complete the puzzles with just the two of us. We decided not to worry about timing ourselves and just taking our time with each chapter and took breaks in-between each one. It was still fun to work together to solve things, but I think we prefer playing with a few friends.
The Verdict: I'm a big fan of all things pirate, so this was a neat box for me. In fact, this was one of the best yet, because the pirate theme has so much to work with. This was the first Escape the Crate we didn't play as a group and it showed. While this can be enjoyed by two people or even alone, I think the real fun is had with friends. I know hanging out with friends doesn't happen as much these days, but if you can do it safely, I think Escape the Crate is a great way to spend the evening together. Even if physical Escape Rooms were open, they can be expensive and sometimes hard to reserve on the night you are all available. My friends and I play a lot of board games but are usually competing against one another. It's nice to work together for once and accomplish the same goal. We've never had a bad night with Escape the Crate.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you'd get the upcoming box. However, most previous boxes are available as a standalone purchase.
Value Breakdown: This box costs $29.99 + $9.95 shipping ($39.94 per delivery) as part of Escape the Crate's bi-monthly subscription. 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.
Check out all of our Escape the Crate reviews, more puzzle subscription boxes, and the Geeky Subscription Box List.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist.
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