You have just 60 minutes to escape. The clock is ticking. Teamwork, creativity, logic, and attention to detail will be needed to race against the clock.
Completion Time: ~45 minutes
Date Played: 16th July 2021
Party Size: 2 (+1)
Recommended For: For a party
Get in lads, we’re gonna do some crime.
Sitting in pride of place on my board game shelf is Epic Escape’s Escape Room in a Box. It’s a huge box packed with not just one but three play at home escape rooms designed to turn any room into an escape room experience. Any room…? I muse to myself, wondering if I could feasibly host this in my bathroom.
Locked in a Panic Room
The first of the three games in Epic Escape’s mega box of epic proportions is called “CRIME”. If there were any doubt as to which one this it, the envelope is indicated by a rather shady individual on the front cover!
The story goes that you’re house-sitting for a friend who has gone away to Italy. You know, just watering plants and ruining their Netflix “For You” suggestions by watching trash TV… When suddenly armed aggressors! Arghhh! Your apartment is surrounded and they’re demanding the money they’re owed by your friend. Thankfully, you quickly discover that your friend has a panic room you can hide out in. The only problem is – you’ve accidentally locked yourself inside and you’re running out of air!
It’s up to you to figure out why there are so many angry people after your friend and figure out a way to escape and save yourselves… No problem. Right?
How to Set Up an Escape Room at Home
Epic Escapes are quite adamant that the host cannot play along. This is one of the main reasons we took so long to play – I love escape rooms, my partner not so much. He didn’t want to ‘host’ and spend the 30 – 60 minutes required to set it up, and I didn’t want to ‘host’ for a lukewarm audience of one. So we waited, and waited for lockdown to end so we could invite an unsuspecting friend round for board game night on one sunny Friday evening mid-July.
“Welcome to board game night- SIKE! You should this was Monopoly? Surprise! We’re all trapped in a panic room and you’ve got one hour to escape before you run out of air.“
But this is where it gets interesting:
Even though I set up the game Crime, at no point did it tell me how to solve any of the puzzles. Sure, I had to reset number locks to specific codes, and I decided where things were hidden, but all this was so easily forgettable! In short: I also got to play this game!
As a host, you’re in charge of the following:
- Resetting locks for particular codes
- Hiding certain items inside the locked boxes they provide
- Hiding all items for your teammates to find around your room
Here’s how I set up Crime:
Spoiler Warning for contents
To help you set up there’s a really handy checklist provided in the Instructions leaflet. This tells the host what to do and in what order, such as “hide this on a windowsill” or “reset this lock to XYZ”. The whole setup takes around 30 minutes, 60 if you’re being very thorough. I didn’t personally want to overcomplicate anything, so I ‘hid’ things in very obvious places such as poking out from behind plant pots or on tables.
Ideally you want a totally empty room, but I think that’s impossible for most people. So just be sure that when you hide things you don’t mind your players rummaging around in your personal belongings:
“Hey, is this sock a clue?”
Since finding all the items took just a few minutes, everything that came after I was able to join in with and the three of us spent most of our hour sat around a table examining clues, cracking codes, and solving puzzles.
Overall, I completely understand why Epic Escapes do not suggest the host plays, but secretly I think it’s totally fine. If you have any concern about buying an Escape Room in a Box and then not being able to play it yourself, don’t be! If you’re still worried about it, you can always set up the escape room, as they recommend, 1+ day in advance and try and forget everything you know.
Solve the Crime, Escape the Room
Crime is the easiest in difficulty of the three escape rooms in Epic Escape’s Escape Room in a Box and it’s a great introduction to the series. It definitely sets the vibe of what to expect in the series, without being overly difficult! In our team of three we managed to breeze through most of the puzzles. There were a few I recognised, and a few more which were delightfully original. The only time our team struggled was right at the end with the final puzzle. It could have been signposted better, but that’s what the hints are for.
Here’s a video of how we got on:
With any game like this, you’ll get out what you put into it. For us, we put on some Italian music, cracked open some beers, and aimed to have a laugh. For one of our party, it was his first ever escape room experience and I think it did it justice! It’s about as close to a real life escape room as you can get from the comfort of your own home. I reckon we’ve done a good job converting him to the hobby!
It’s £99 for the whole box. At first, this feels a little pricy, but in hindsight I don’t think it is when you consider the quality of the materials you get. This box is HUGE for starters, and packed with all manner of delightful locks (even one hidden inside a dictionary) and high quality clues to hide around your house. Many components are reusable, and you’ll get at least three hour-long escape room experiences. Just be sure to clear a lot of space on your board game shelf to make way for this one!
We had a lot of fun playing Crime! Easy to set up, visually impressive, and fun puzzles to boot. I absolutely can’t wait to get stuck in to the second and the third games inside this box. My only regret? Waiting so long before playing this one! But it’s definitely a game best played in a big group – so invite all your friends round and get stuck in.
Escape Room in a Box (3 in 1) can be purchased on Epic Escapes’ website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.