3 Best Escape Room Board Games of 2017

We’ve played 10 different escape room board games and over 175+ escape rooms across the United States and Europe. These 3 escape room board games series specifically impressed us the most, and are worth considering for anyone who likes both escape rooms and board games!

We think these are an excellent alternative to escape rooms, especially on rainy days, for families with children, and for people looking for a budget alternative.

Full Disclosure: We were provided complimentary review copies of both ThinkFun games and all three Exit the Games. The Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that we may get a referral commission if you use them.

#1. EXIT Game: Abandoned Cabin, Secret Lab, & Pharaoh’s Tomb – Thames & Kosmos

Abandoned Cabin, Secret Lab, & Pharaoh’s Tomb are the first of a multi-game series called Exit the Game by Thames and Kosmos. The games are all various “escape” scenarios, where you find yourself in a dangerous area and must be tasked with escaping. Each game retails for around $15, and all of the games are of consistently quality.

The game features a fun decoder disk, an instruction booklet, a puzzle booklet, some miscellaneous cardboard pieces, and three sets of cards. The three sets of cards are the Hint Cards, the Riddle Cards, and the Answer Cards. The illustrations and puzzles are great.

We thought the Hint mechanism was particularly flexible and well-made, there are plenty of hint cards and you can take a hint whenever you want. The Riddle Cards and the puzzle booklet contain all of the puzzles. The decoder will tell you which Answer Cards to pick up – if you’re lucky you’ll pick up one that confirms your right answer and allows you to proceed.

The puzzles are challenging and some can be quite clever. There’s plenty of material – our group of 3 experienced escape room enthusiasts took over 60 minutes to finish each one.

This is an exciting new addition released in 2017, and gets our current choice as the #1 Escape Room Board Game. We’re looking forward to trying out the new games in the collection as well.

  • Materials: All cardboard and paper. Quality of materials is impressive.
  • Replay Value: No replay value. You will be destroying the games as you go along, so there’s not really a way to preserve the game in a position that you can share with a friend.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Players: 1-4 officially or 1-6 officially. We recommend 2-3.
  • Duration: Officially 1-2 hours.
  • Age: 12+ (official recommendation)
  • List Price: $14.95
  • Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2zju28h

#2. Escape the Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat, Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor – ThinkFun

ThinkFun’s two-game series Escape the Room features two games. Both of the games are high-quality, but in our opinion Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat edges out the Mystery of the Stargazer’s Manor.

The structure of the game is standard for those familiar with escape room board games. There are four envelopes, each containing a variety of puzzles and potentially more envelopes. Solving puzzles correctly and verifying your solution with the solution wheel will give you access to more envelopes, which will develop the story and progress the game.

Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat – This particular game is notable for a series of puzzles that involves some physical manipulation. These puzzles were a welcome addition to us and helped increase both the difficulty and the variety of puzzles involved in the game. Overall, this is a strong Escape Room Board Game and we recommend it for its high quality materials, fun puzzle experience, and great value for any small group of escape room fans that want to play at home.

  • Full Review: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat – ThinkFun (Review)
  • Dr. Gravely Hints and Answers: http://www.thinkfun.com/escapetheroom/retreat/hints/ (please don’t read before starting!)
  • Materials: Mostly cardboard and paper. Quality of materials is impressive.
  • Replay Value: No replay value, although if you’re really careful with the pieces you can repack it up and give it to a friend to play. Repacking instructions are provided.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Players: 3-8 officially, but we recommend 1-3. This particular game has particular parts that can only really be played by one person at a time. Thus we don’t recommend any team sizes larger than 3.
  • Duration: Officially 90 minutes.
  • Age: 13+ (official recommendation)
  • List Price: $21.99
  • Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cIwj1n

Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor – We feel like this game might be too easy for most escape room enthusiasts and is potentially better for families playing with children. However, this is still a high-quality product with a variety of puzzles, well-made materials, and intriguing story. Overall, this is a great way to get into the escape room board game genre.

  • Full Review: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor – ThinkFun (Review)
  • Stargazer Hints and Answers: http://www.thinkfun.com/escapetheroom/stargazer/hints/ (please don’t read before starting!)
  • Materials: Mostly cardboard and paper. Quality of materials is impressive.
  • Replay Value: No replay value, although you can repack it up and give it to a friend to play. Repacking instructions are provided.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Players: 3-8 officially, but we recommend 1-3. The game is a bit too easy for more than 3 players to do it.
  • Duration: 90 minutes (but experienced teams should finish much quicker).
  • Age: 10+ (official recommendation)
  • List Price: $21.99
  • Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cEe40i

#3. Escape Room: The Game – Spin Master Games

Escape Room: The Game is a set of 4 distinct 60-minute escape room adventures released by Spin Master Games. The four games included are Prison Break, Virus, Nuclear Countdown, and Temple of the Aztec. Spin Master is also planning to release expansion packs (sold separately).

The general structure of each of the 4 games is similar to the games by ThinkFun. You will have 3 envelopes in each game that you will be able to open in sequence if you solve the right puzzles.

The most notable difference between Spin Master’s game and the ThinkFun games is the solution verification mechanism. You can check your answers via the “Chrono Decoder” product. The Chrono Decoder functions as both a timer and as an electronic way to verify your answers. You can input your answers into the decoder by placing in the right four “keys”. Each game has exactly three answers that you need to put into the Chrono Decoder.

Our main issue with Spinmaster’s series of the games are the puzzles themselves. In most of the games, we thought that some of the puzzles required extremely tricky jumps of logic. Additionally, too many of the puzzles depended on traditional ciphers, which grew old for us.

Still, the material is nice and this set should provide a few hours of fun for any escape room enthusiasts looking for a fun challenge.

  • Hints and Answers: Hints provided via hint cards. Answers at Prison, VirusNuclear Countdown, Aztec,
  • Materials: Mostly paper. Quality of materials is good.
  • Replay Value: No replay value. You can repack each game by looking at the list of contents for each envelope. You can give it to a friend to play if you’re really careful with the pieces, although you will also need to give them the decoder (and this will prevent you from playing any expansions that they provide).
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Players: 3-5 officially, but we recommend 2-3. 1 person might be too few as there are quite a few places where people can get stuck. We don’t think there’s enough to do in parallel for more than 3 people to enjoy it.
  • Duration: 60 minutes per game.
  • Age: 16+ (Official Recommendation)
  • List Price: $39.99
  • Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jxSQ4o

Honorable Mention: Puzzled Pint

A screenshot of Puzzled Pint’s useful code sheet.

Puzzled Pint is a puzzle hunt that runs monthly in 35+ english speaking cities every month. This gets an honorable mention since it’s not an escape room board game, but still should be able to keep small groups of escape room enthusiasts entertained for 1-2 hours at home. One huge plus is that these puzzles are free, and there are years worth of archives available online so you can play from the comfort of your own home!

More Escape Room Board Games

If you’re interested in reading more about escape room board games, Errol (a fellow escape room blogger) has compiled together all of the options in the market along with a bunch of reviews at http://thecodex.ca/2016/10/27/guide-escape-room-board-games/

SCRAP / Real Escape Game fans might want to check out the Puzz Pack, for a fun paper-based experience featuring SCRAP puzzles.

If you’re interested in escape room video games, there’s none better than the Zero Escape series. Check out 999, Virtue’s Last Reward, and then Zero Time Dilemma. Each of these DS games contains many “escape rooms”, but the true highlight is the convoluted story that ties all three games together.

9 thoughts on “3 Best Escape Room Board Games of 2017

  1. Wow hadn’t seen the Spinmasters rig before. Looks like a super fun enigma-esk verification mechanic

  2. The Spin Master game is flawed because if you remember the order of the keys by accident, then you can solve the riddles of each adventure by using the same keys. They just have different markings on them. I guess making a better key decoder would have been a lot costly.

    1. Hey! I finally played the Exit games and thought they were strong contenders and are my new #1 – I especially appreciated the sets of cards which provided a better hint system and more discovery.

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