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Escape the Crate “Escape The Ruins” Review

Carlos Lamborn
ByCarlos LambornSep 24, 2021 | 4 comments

Escape The Crate
5 overall rating
2 Ratings | 1 Reviews

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, so this is a fun, economical, at-home way to engage with the craze.

This is a review of the Escape The Crate “Escape The Ruins” box.

COUPON: Use code SUMMER2021 to save 20% off your first 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.)

First Impressions

 

The box comes wrapped in a white plastic bag to protect the box and provide a little mystery as to what this installment’s theme will be. Every inch of the box is part of the rich, colorful, intriguing theme. The theme this time is “ruins” and the box features Mayan relics, symbols, and temples. This is the only subscription I know of where the box itself comes into play. So make sure to pay attention to every detail.

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.

What’s Inside?

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, my wife and me) 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 setup 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.

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 historical figures, or retrieve relics. The setting for this box is a Mayan archeological dig where someone has uncovered the lost “Temple of Crocodile.” The findings could change the course of humanity, but your arch-rival, Mr. X, has hacked your systems and is on his way.

Something new this time around, Escape the Crate is giving you the option to split into teams (and join Mr. X) and compete against one another. This sounded really interesting. However, since it was just my wife and me, we decided to stay together. This didn’t affect the gameplay too much and we still got to do all the puzzles. Note: if you think you might split into two groups, the website suggests having separate electronic devices for each team.

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.

At each step, you are given the option to receive hints. They start vague and get increasingly obvious. They are there to stop you 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 six-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 T-E, it’s not hard to guess the word is TEMPLE. 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 compass, two ball-point pens, and a ping pong ball. 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 60 minutes for a casual player, give or take 15 minutes depending on if you are beginners or more experienced. The website says most players don’t bother to time themselves and just have fun working together to figure out the 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.

The Verdict

This box was difficult but satisfying. There was a lot of set up and the puzzles definitely got tougher as the night progressed. We used a lot of hints. Despite, or possibly because of, the difficulty, this Escape the Crate was one of our favorites. Although we didn’t split into teams, we thought the idea of turning an escape room into a competitive event was a wonderful idea. The crew at Escape the Crate always seems to be thinking of ways to evolve the subscription. The theme, design, and execution were spot on. As usual, the “a-ha” moments are worth the price of the subscription. Although you can’t really play the same box twice and get the same level of enjoyment, sometimes I think it’d be fun just to watch a new group of people play. I think watching someone experience the same moments would be a lot of fun.

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. I love going to an actual Escape Room as much as the next person. However, getting nearly the same experience for the cost of just one ticket is totally worth it, especially since the experience can be shared. Plus you can have a few drinks and don’t have to worry about the room being booked up the one night all your friends are free.

To Wrap Up

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, order by October 30th to receive the next box “The Roswell Incident”. However, you can purchase this box, as well as most previous boxes, as a standalone purchase.

COUPON: Use code SUMMER2021 to save 20% off your first box.

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.

What do you think of the Escape the Crate “Escape The Ruins” box?

"Now you can bring all of the fun of an escape room into your own home...with a different adventure delivered every other month. Work with your friends to crack codes, solve riddles, and conquer puzzles as you solve historical mysteries through time."
Carlos Lamborn
Carlos Lamborn
Carlos is a husband and father of two. He likes coffee, beer, camping, disc golf, a good box cutter, and the accomplishment of even the most menial home-owning task. Carlos is new to the world of subscription boxes and loves the wonderment of receiving them in the new mailbox he just spent all day installing.

Carlos Lamborn
Carlos Lamborn
Carlos is a husband and father of two. He likes coffee, beer, camping, disc golf, a good box cutter, and the accomplishment of even the most menial home-owning task. Carlos is new to the world of subscription boxes and loves the wonderment of receiving them in the new mailbox he just spent all day installing.
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4 comments

April

I like that this incorporates escape rooms & murder mysteries-two of my favorite things!

Carlos Lamborn

Most of the boxes are PG. Even the Jack the Ripper edition was pretty mild, but still came with a warning and an option to play a family friendly version. They are still a ton of fun, even without the gruesome details. Thanks for commenting.

AD

I love these boxes for a date night in. Thanks for the review!

Carlos Lamborn

I agree. Although sometimes they can put a couple/friendship to the test. Beware. Thanks for commenting.

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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.