Does your family love tackling escape rooms together? Do your friends plan their vacation itineraries around escape games? Here are some fun gift ideas for your Sherlock-obsessed, puzzle-addicted, room-escaping loved ones!
NOTE: Bull City Escape is not receiving any compensation for this post. These are just games that we enjoyed and want to recommend to others.
Escape the Crate is a series of "escape room in a box" games. The materials have a homemade quality to them, but the puzzles are clever and entertaining. The series follows a villain through time to stop him from altering history. Each game (or chapter) focuses on a different time period and does a great job of integrating historical facts. Perfect for puzzle-loving history buffs!
$29.99 + shipping. Games can be purchased individually or through a subscription.
Unlock! is a card-based game series. Games involve a combination of cardplay and entering information into an app. You won't destroy any of the materials during gameplay, so you can easily repackage it and give it to someone else (er, not that we're condoning regifting...). Affordable and compact, these games would make great stocking stuffers as well.
We enjoyed Squeek & Sausage, The Formula, and The Island of Doctor Goorse. There are 3 newly released adventures (The House on the Hill, The Nautilus' Traps, The Tonipal`s Treasure) that we haven't played yet, but are on our Christmas list!
$15 per game. There are 6 different games available.
Each Exit: The Game contains a journal, decoder wheel, "strange" items, and 3 stacks of cards. This game does not require a separate app or website - everything you need is provided in the game box itself. Gameplay involves manipulating and partially destroying game pieces, which is fun but also means you can't easily repackage the game for multiple uses. We were impressed with the puzzle design, artwork, hint delivery system and method of progression.
Of the three games we played, we recommend The Abandoned Cabin and The Pharaoh’s Tomb. We did not enjoy The Secret Lab and do not recommend it.
$13-16. There are 6 different games available.
Journal 29 is a "unique book game where you can solve riddles and puzzles and submit your answers online to get the keys and move forward" which is an accurate (if staid) description. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed this book. It's full of strong, clever puzzles that make innovative use of the book format. Some of the puzzles require searching for answers on the internet, which opens up every imaginable possibility, so it really pushes you to think creatively. The biggest downside is the lack of a formal hint system.
$16. There are 60+ puzzles packed in this book. While they do connect to each other, the book does not need to be completed in one sitting.
We played Dr. Gravely's Retreat which is more story-driven than the games above. The story was well-written, intriguing ... but waaaay too wordy. Still, the artwork was beautiful and it included some clever physical puzzles. It was fairly simple to reset and did not involve destroying any of the game pieces. The box says its for 3-8 people, but we recommend it for 2-4 players.
$22. There are 2 different games available (Secret of Dr Gravely's Retreat and Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor).
Confession: we have not actually played this game yet BUT WE REALLY WANT IT (::hint:hint::). This game launched on Kickstarter in 2016 ... and immediately sold out. It was then picked up for production by Mattel ... and immediately sold out again. Fingers crossed that a new batch will arrive in time for the holidays.
You can gift a real-life escape room experience, of course! The escape room industry has hit the US full-force and there is likely to be one near your loved one's hometown. See if you can purchase a gift certificate or (even better) plan the excursion. Create a fun, unique, and memorable experience with your family and friends!