Escape the Crate is a bi-monthly subscription-box-based game that puts all the fun of an escape room in a box delivered right to your door. Every other month, Escape the Crate delivers a new adventure from time travel to a murder mystery, with puzzles designed to be solved at home.
The Cost: $29.99 every other month, plus $9.95 shipping
Note: "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.
This was my second Escape the Crate, so I was a little more prepared than my first attempt at using this subscription box to dive into the world of solving escape room-style puzzles right in my dining room.
Pulling off the plastic envelope every box comes wrapped in, I was excited to see this time around that the "Clockmaker" — the name the box creators have given themselves had styled the challenge around secret agents. There was even a line on the side of the box warning that the "box will self destruct," a great nod to Mission Impossible.
As usual, the box itself contains clues on the outside and in — if you're a newbie to Escape the Crate, make sure you don't throw it out!
What's Inside the Box
Popping open the box, you notice a button — the kind of with a giant safety pin on the back — supporting "Rodney and Jan" for town council, a clue that leaves you wondering if these secret agents are going to be involved in a political thriller. Also included is a set of plastic sunglasses, several envelopes which warned that they shouldn't be opened until instructed, a small wooden ruler, and a number of cards and pieces of paper with writing on them.
The most important of these was the instructions that included a website link and password. As I mentioned, this was my second go-round with Escape the Crate, so I was already expecting to log in to find clues shared via videos recorded by the Escape the Crate team. This is how they substitute much of the experiences you'd get in a real room without having to stock your box so full you wouldn't be able to lift it (or afford the shipping).
Good to know: It's much easier to work as a team when everyone can see the website screen, so opt for a laptop or even your TV — a cellphone works in a pinch but presents a challenge as everyone has to crowd around.
Once you log on, you find you're being sent on a covert spy mission back in the 1960s (very Mission Impossible, indeed!). A Mr X has created a time bomb, and you've got to disarm it ... after time traveling. Are you going to make it as an "elite agent"?
The plastic glasses are rather cheap and a bit unnecessary, but I love that they tell you exactly how to position everything and go to an intense amount of detail to get you right into the game from the start. I was also a big fan of the plot of this game — it has twists and turns, but it holds up.
You get a ton of value in this game as you can add as many (or few) players as you like, and you never pay more than the $29.99 price tag. Not to mention having two chapters included lets you double up, essentially offering you two escape rooms in one.
One of my favorite things about Escape the Crate is the fact that they split games out into multiple sections, so you can play some of it and save the rest for later. You also have the option of playing a timed game ... or not. It's up to you.
Playing with my teenage daughter and husband, we spend as much of the game ribbing each other, jumping up to let our dogs out to pee, and debating over the music as we do playing. Being able to do all that on our own time, and spread the game out over a few nights, made this much more of a family bonding experience rather than a rushed "OMG, can we solve it in time?" experience.
Of course, if you're more of the "I love beating the clock" type, you can do that too!
In particular, I dug this month's Escape the Crate because I loved the Mission Impossible movies, and the game inspired us to search for them to share with our daughter (Tip: Check your local library!).
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist.
More You Should Know
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, if you order now your first box will be "Escape the Colosseum". However, you can purchase this box (as well as most previous boxes) as a standalone purchase for $39.99.
What do you think of the Escape the Crate "Escape Secret Agent" box?