For as long as I can remember I have always loved doing puzzles and playing logic games, but I have never tried an escape room, which seems to be the ultimate logic puzzle experience (and thinking about it, it has been something that strangely didn’t seem to appeal). Because of Covid and several lockdowns, going out to try and complete a real-life escape room wasn’t an option anyway, due to closures and social distancing. That leaves doing them at home and recently we have been doing a few in the comfort of our own home with the family, and they are fantastic fun.
For those of you that don’t know what an escape room is, they are generally a themed room that you are locked into with several other players and are adventure-based games where you mentally and physically have to work together with your fellow locked-in friends to try and find a series of clues, hints, puzzles and riddles to unlock the room and escape, all within a specified time frame. They put your problem-solving, co-operation and communication skills to the test.
As I mentioned already, due to restrictions I couldn’t visit an escape room but there are lots of escape room type games to buy that you can play at home and I received three escape room packs from Golden Bear Toys and Trapped to try out.
The Trapped: Escape Room Game Packs are escape rooms in a pack designed by real escape room experts and turn any room in your home into your own personal escape room. They are family-friendly adventure games for 2-6 players, suitable for players 8 years and up and have everything you need in the pack to play (except a pencil and paper). With each game you will need to crack the clues to solve the puzzles. They game generally take between 1-2 hours to complete. They come in three different packs with three different levels of difficulty, all based on a different theme.
Trapped: The Carnival (Difficulty level: Easy): Your lifelong dream is to work among the jaw-dropping performers of Muggins Carnival, but wait! Nothing is what it seems as you race to solve the Ringmaster’s baffling puzzles. Work together as a team or go head-to-head with other players to see who’ll be crowned King or Queen of the carnival.
Trapped: The Art Heist (Difficulty level: Medium): In Art Heist, the obscenely rich Harrington family invites you to an exhibition of their priceless art. Upset that his family hoards wealth, though, their youngest son, Charles, asks your party to steal a painting? Fearing detection, Charles leaves only a series of clues to help you find the right artwork. But you’re not alone! Charles has also convinced one of the staff to help you escape… Can you find the painting, steal it and flee the scene, all in 60 minutes?
Trapped: The Bank Job (Difficulty level: Hard): In The Bank Job, you and the other players are a gang of bank robbers? Intel suggests that if you’re a party to this one job, you’ll be set for life! Locked in a secure vault and under heavy surveillance, can you work together as a team to pull off the crime in the nick of time? Sleeping gas has knocked out the security guards and everyone else in the building so you are safe for now? But hurry! In sixty minutes you’ll need to choose your strategy: finish the mission or abort and run!
When the small packs arrived, they all looked and sounded very interesting. We decided that as one of us have only ever been to a real escape room before we would start with The Carnival as this was the one labelled with an Easy difficulty level. We were playing with two adults and two children (9 and 11 years old). We decided to play in the kitchen and set out some snacks and were ready to play.
There is some setup to do before you can play – namely sticking clues to wall and doors in your “escape room”. As we were playing in the kitchen, sticking things to tiled walls and the fridge etc. wasn’t too much of an issue. If you really don’t want to stick things to your doors and walls you can just place them somewhere so that they are in sight. The instructions on how to set up and how to play are very straightforward.
For the next hour (or thereabouts) we started to decipher and decode clues, with the kids being able to help solve some as well, getting them just as involved as the adults (and actually enjoying it without a screen being involved). The clues weren’t too easy and required some thinking and looking at other clues to solve (with the kids getting some that the adults hadn’t yet – I’m not going to tell you what clues, but the kids had a different way of looking at them than the adults did).
As a family, we all really enjoyed playing The Carnival. It was an interesting game, and whilst the game was the easy level, the clues were difficult enough to get your brain working and engage all the players without being too easy that it became boring. We solved the game in approx. an hour and had great fun. The youngest (9 years old) loved it and straight away wanted to play more. This was definitely a five out of five game.
A few days later we decided that enough time had passed and were ready to move up a level and decided to play the medium rated difficulty game, The Art Heist. Again, we picked a room to play in and laid out all the clues around the room. As we all enjoyed The Carnival we were all eager to play. Unfortunately, this one was not a hit. Whilst rated as a medium difficulty level for aged 8 years plus we all had difficulty with it. The clues were obscure and didn’t seem to have any cohesion. We heavily relied on the hints and even after finishing we still had trouble working out how the clues worked together to get the required answer. It may have been rated as medium, but we found it difficult and boring, lacking logic and really uninspiring. Needless to say, the kids soon got bored. Judging it against The Carnival, we would have to rate it a generous two out of five. We really couldn’t get a grasp on the clues and even when solving one it didn’t really seem to take you anywhere, maybe it was just trying to be a bit too clever?
Because of the failure of The Art Heist we were reluctant to move on to the third title in the series, The Bank Job. Again, we waited a few days before attempting to play. Thankfully this one was back on track. We furnished our kitchen with the clues and set about trying to solve a much more difficult puzzle than the easy one but one that required logical thinking and had better cohesion than the medium one. Whilst the clues were reasonably difficult, this was great fun – not only do you have to work out clues by thinking through the logic, but you have to fold clues, cut out clues and really get hands on. Whilst more difficult we all really enjoyed this and this was another five out of five game.
Overall, the Trapped games, The Carnival and The Bank Job, are excellent, fun games requiring logical thinking and really put critical thinking and problem-solving skills to the test to be able to solve the puzzles and “escape the room”. Your winning scores are decided upon have many hints you need to solve the puzzle (and The Carnival is also scored on age range). As a family with an age range of under ten to over forty we all really enjoyed the games, working individually and together to solve the clues. They are an excellent way to pass an evening and enjoy some good quality family time together. The Art Heist was a failure as it didn’t seem to be as well thought-out as the other two games.
Our experience of playing the three Trapped games was overall good, we loved playing two of the three. The ones we enjoyed were challenging, fun and entertaining and we would recommended them. We played with four players which worked really well, and we would say that it was the perfect number of players, especially for the size of the room we were playing in.
If you are looking for a fun but challenging way to spend some time with family or friends, we would definitely recommend The Carnival and The Bank Job Trapped Escape Room Packs. They have everything you need to play, with the exception of snacks, pen and paper, and are lots of fun. There is no turn taking and you can work individually or together to solve the clues but to work your way out you will need to collaborate and discuss clues with all the other players. And no batteries or screens are required to play and have fun!
RRP: £12.99 each