Escaping Boredom and Solving Crimes—Together

Escape the Room-type games are all the rage, and for good reasons: They’re challenging, fun, often educational, usually require cooperation and teamwork, and are all-around wonderful activities to do with family and friends. This week we review several new entries into this growing segment. We’ve enjoyed them, and know that you will too.

We Detectives (Tactic Games)

we detectives tactic gamesThis easy-to-learn board game is a great way to introduce younger kids to the idea of cooperative crime solving. Players draw WePhone cards (which look like mini text messages), which either send them around the board to gather evidence that will be used to keep the “bad guy” in jail, or report an obstacle that sidetracks the detective. Each piece of evidence has a corresponding tile, which is placed in the center of the board. The object is to gather all the evidence before the WePhone tiles run out. If you do, the crook stays behind bars, where he or she no doubt belongs. If you don’t, well, shuffle the WePhone cards and try again. You’ll need about 20 minutes to play. Under $15. 2-4 players, ages 7+.

Operation: Escape Room (Yulu)

operation escape room yuluThis nerve-wracking (in a good way) game adds a ticking timer and a series of physical challenges that make it a surefire hit. Start by putting the timer belt on one player and setting the timer. Then, one other player has to solve three puzzles—each of which requires a different skill—to retrieve the key that will unlock the belt and stop the timer. First up is the Skill Key Cage, which requires players to use sticks to extricate a key. Each side of the cage presents a different level of challenge. Once you’ve got that key, it’s off to the Strategy Quiz Master, which also yields a key. Take that to the Lucky Spinner and, hopefully, you’ll expose the final key. Thanks to the multiple skill levels, everyone in the family will enjoy this game. Under $29. For 2-6 players, ages 6+.

Finders Seekers (Finders Seekers)

finders seekersWhile these kits don’t have a time limit, they’re still a blast. Each one comes with an introductory letter and a series of clues, which might be photographs, napkins, maps, restaurant menus, or something else. It’s up to you and your fellow players to figure out what to do with all that. We did the New Orleans “Find” and divided up the clues among the six players, each of whom made good use of his or her smartphone. After about an hour, we weren’t able to solve the puzzle, mostly because none of us noticed one tiny but very important clue on the map. Once we spotted it (someone on the very helpful Facebook group nudged us in the right direction—she was very careful not to expose it directly), we quickly finished the challenge.  $30 for individual puzzles, less if you sign up for a monthly subscription. Ages 10+.

Cylinder Detective Agency

cylinder detective agencyAs a detective with the world-famous Cylinder Detective Agency, you’ll analyze clues (photographs and more), review interviews with suspects, evaluate evidence logs, and work together to solve a crime, in our case, the theft of a valuable bicycle from a museum. These puzzles are engaging, fun, and a definite intellectual challenge. However, as the good folks at CDA put it (in Latin, of course), Ulla tenaci invia est via—For the tenacious, no road is impassable. Under $28 each, less if you buy a package of three or do a monthly subscription. For ages 8+.