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Arts and Entertainment

This Engaging Game Stuffs A Real Life Escape Room Into A Box

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Two Los Angeles women have created an enchanting board game that requires you to find hidden objects, solve clever puzzles and unlock secret compartments.

Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin are two friends who love both hosting game nights at their homes and going out to play live escape room games, so it was only natural the pair should combine the two. The end result is an engaging more-than-a-board-game they call Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment.

The game launched on Kickstarter today, but Patel and Rubin gave us a sneak peek of the game over the weekend.

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For those of you who've ever played an escape room, you're familiar with the concept of being 'locked' in a room and having to search through every nook and cranny for clues before piecing those clues together. While some rooms are heavily lock-and-key, other popular Los Angeles rooms will require you to dodge lasers, play virtual reality games and unlock secret passageways. Escape Room In A Box takes as much of that as it can, and brings it into your home.

The premise is that by merely opening the game's box, you've exposed yourself to a virus that will turn you into a werewolf. The 'mad scientist'—Dr. Cynthia Gnaw—has given you a way out, but only if you can solve all of her puzzles and discover the antidote. Though the game has a horror theme—we even put on some spooky, ambient music—it has a light, comic book-ish sense of humor throughout. But don't be fooled: finding the antidote isn't as simple as it might sound.

Patel and Rubin told LAist that they play-tested the game a number of times to get to the game they have now, making "at least 100 changes" along the way. They said it was important to them to have a game void of red herrings, puzzles that needlessly run down the clock or bottlenecks where all players were stuck solving one puzzle. They also did a fine job creating a variety of puzzles that appeal to multiple skill sets. The deceptively small box the game comes in is part of the game, and contains over a dozen puzzles, which require a little math, some code solving, and a bit of wordplay. And—something that was also crucial to Patel and Rubin—you'll find three real, physical objects that must be unlocked via key or padlock. So what might at first seem like a few simple puzzles that can be solved with pencil and paper soon turns into a mad hunt for cleverly hidden secrets and useful items.

The end result is an excellent translation of a real-life escape room or point-and-click video game into an interactive, hands-on game that can be played in the comfort of your living room with a cheese plate, some beers and your wittiest friends. While the game is meant for 2-6 players, we managed just fine with three players (and two inquisitive cats). Additionally, while escape rooms kick you out after an hour so that they can reset the room and let the next group of puzzlers inside, we suspect you and your friends can take your liberties with time if needed. The game does come with hints, as well as a solution book, if you really, truly need them.

The game will likely retail for $60, which is considerably cheaper than actually taking five of your pals to an escape room where tickets range between $20-35 per person, though those who donate to the Kickstarter will be able to get their own game for $45, plus the cost of shipping. While the game is a one-time play, similar to a murder mystery game, the Kickstarter funders will also get a free refill pack that will allow them to host the game for a different group of friends.

If this first Escape Room In A Box is successful, the pair will look into creating future games. There's a possibility you might be able to send back the game you already have, and the components will be repurposed into a completely new narrative and set of puzzles.

If you love hosting game nights, we'd suggest giving this one a shot. And if you want to make an event of it, Patel and Rubin even offer recipe suggestions along with their Kickstarter packages.