Escape the Crate – Rock N Roll Spy

Bring all the fun of an escape room into your own home, with a different crate of adventures delivered every other month. Each crate is full of codes, riddles, and hidden items that enrich the theme of the story. It takes around an hour and a half, and does require access to the internet.

The Good

Art is Eye-Catching and Components are Pleasing (+4)

Crates can include more detailed art and larger components than a normal “carry-on luggage” size box. Not everything in the art has the cartoon feel like some other games I’ve played. There are some vintage photos as well as nice texturing on the materials that make it immersive when you interact with the puzzle. Without giving much more detail about the actual components, along with the typical paper routes you can also get some fun keepsakes.

Sustainable Design (+4)

Yet again I have found a game that does not need you to destroy anything! The publisher has also made special efforts to ensure that you could even reset the game and pass it along to a friend. Since this is a subscription service, you’ll want to support the publisher by getting your own — do not follow what you’d normally do for a streaming service!

Simulates New Rooms and Gadgets Well (+4)

The game makes good use of Do Not Open Envelopes to state that these are things that you are aware of, but do not yet have access to. You’ll be aware of their existence, like if you were in the room itself but there will be a key or password needed to get in.

Unique and Graceful use of Meta-knowledge (+5)

There are more than logic puzzles in here! There’s math! You may even get to hone in on your money management skills in this game. I won’t say much more than that but there is a puzzle in here that will need you to be able to do math. Don’t worry; it’s nothing like calculus.

Nothing Hidden (+5)

If there was an accessibility complaint I would have it’s eyesight. Some of the games that need you to be able to make out tiny numbers or numbers that have a very similar color scheme to the rest of the environment. This would normally be okay but it’s executed in such a way that your progress depends on it. There isn’t even a way to work around it, if you can’t read it you’re just screwed. Especially if the game is touting that you can play this by yourself, it’s a little annoying to have to think that you’d need to work with other people just to read something. So yes, as much as I just ranted about its existence… it is not — I repeat, not — a thing in this game, which is great!

The Bad

Wording in Rules (-1)

Some of the wording in the rules is just poor use of the English language and you can misinterpret what you’re reading. Consequently, you may misinterpret what is being asked of you. In these sorts of games, it’s absolutely crucial to be clear in both your grammar and your choice of wording in order to lead the player on the right path.

Locks are not Thematic (-2)

Remember how I said that there are gadgets and areas that are unlocked later in the game as you progress? Some of these require a lock acquired from some other riddle and what you acquire doesn’t make sense.

Perspective Puzzles, but worse (-1)

There is some usage of tools in this game and the tools you use could make you a bit queasy. Like I’ve said before I really don’t like perspective puzzles and this one requires you to have some color differentiation. But it’s not in the way that you’re looking for a hidden number, but rather being able to selectively see different colors.

Accessibility Hurdles (-1)

Having access to the internet will get you through the puzzle solutions and some of the information you receive will be audio with no transcript. Not great, especially if you’ve decided to bring the crate to a location or setting in which you can’t just start blasting audio over and over again.

Graphics and Logic Overlaps (-2)

You can interpret the information that you get from some of the riddles and the environment in more than one way. Often some of the graphics styles when viewed at different angles or leaps in judgement can stump you. All in all, some things are not distinct enough; and by distinct, I mean unique.

The Ugly

Stereotyping (0)

The theme of this game includes some folks from other countries and I never like it when they get voice over artists that seem to not be from those countries at all. It’s not a major part of the adventure so I didn’t dock any points for this but I want to be clear about my stance on this sort of thing.

Hard to Organize (-1)

While sustainability is a good thing, if you have double-sided components please make sure that they’re related or part of the same puzzle. You don’t want to waste time — since this is a timed game — forgetting what you have or haven’t flipped over to the other side.

Color Choices on Some Components (-0.5)

Eyesore. Major eyesore. Especially if you’re going to be staring at this thing for a while, please at least use colors that don’t clash. When all else fails, use standard color wheel principles!

Pattern Recognition (-0.5)

Comparing, contrasting and matching puzzles is fine; but that’s hard to transpose if you have completely different scales from the solution and the information location. Doable, but annoying.

Clunky Box (-1)

This game also uses the box as a way to keep with the sustainable design. The problem is, since it’s a crate the cover is attached to the bottom of the box. Why this matters: if you’re looking in and around it for clues it’s going to flap around and slap you in the face. I speak from experience.

Difficulty: 2/5 for Advanced
Satisfaction Grade: B- (82.7%) for Great
Worth Your Money? Maybe

note: a review copy was provided by the publisher.