ESCAPE GAME REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you need a new and unique activity for Board Game Night.
Avoid if… you aren’t good with arts and crafts.
Lock Paper Scissors:
The Game: Escape Room Z
Description (from the company website): Zombies are everywhere! And they’re hungry … hungry for … PIZZA!
Trapped in an apartment on the 28th floor, can you rescue the pizza, get the gun, unlock the door, and defeat the zombies?
But how? By solving lots and lots of interesting, fun puzzles!
Welcome to Escape Room Z, an hour-long puzzling adventure for you and your crew.
Difficulty (1-10): none given
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $19.99 + supplies (if you download and print yourself)
Party Size: no more than 8 recommended
Staging Area: Your room should be a comfortable size for however many people are in your party to get up and move around.
This is the video we took before we played the game:
This is the video we took just after we completed the game:
Note: The ERG were given the opportunity to try out this game for free, with the understanding that we would continue to provide an honest review and follow the same process we’ve used on all of our other ratings.
Description of the room: We used our Community Room in our condo building (Jason and I live in the same building, but you’d know that already if you watched the pre-room video). We had 6 people, and that was a good size (although maybe our room was a bit too large for the number of pieces of the game).
Understanding of the Mission: Essentially, save the pizza that is baking in an oven on the 28th floor from a horde of hungry zombies.
Did We Escape: Yes (we saved the pizza LOL)
Time Remaining: about 19:30
Our Suggested Party Size: 6 is probably good if people have done games like this before or are regular “escapees” (escape room enthusiasts/addicts).
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Eric, Heather, Corey, Brittany and Katheryn (who served as our Game Master)
Worth the time and money? Yes, even though it’s a once-and-done game (but all of them are anyway)
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- It’s your own location. Serve whatever snacks and drinks you want… maybe go with pizza to fit the theme?
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|We have played a bunch of different escape room board games and they’ve been pretty much hit or miss. So when one of the people at Lock Paper Scissors reached out and asked us if we would like to try their Escape Room Z game and review it, I was a little skeptical. However, (1) I’m not willing to pass up a freebie and (2) the website made the game sound interesting, so I replied and said sure we’ll give it a shot.
The way this game is set up, it’s meant to be printed at home, on photo paper if you like, but set up around the house, community room, entertaining space (whatever it may be). You basically turn your place into an escape room.
So, we had to find ourselves a game master so both Mike and I could actually play to write this review. So, we scheduled the game night, and off we went.
|I don’t know what expectations I had for this game. I wasn’t really involved in the communications with Lock Paper Scissors (Jason took that on), but it seemed like a different thing to do on one of our regular game nights. We had played other escape room games before, but not one that we had to download and prep ourselves.|
|The story is pretty simple, but it’s kind of funny. You’re trapped in a high-rise building on the 28th floor and there are hungry zombies trying to steal your pizza, or, since we were playing the Christmas Version, Christmas turkey. (Apparently these zombies don’t like brains, only pizza, or sometimes turkey).) You need to figure out a way to save your pizza (or turkey), find a weapon to kill the Zombies, and then figure out a way to get off the 28th floor. Before the pizza gets cold, no less. Can’t escape zombies if the pizza’s cold. Why bother at that point, amirite?
(Dammit, this was supposed to be my vacation…)
|Our GM (and friend) Katheryn gave us a brief overview of the story and then had us watch the video (see the first one in this post).
Our group of friends is staying at an island resort for the holidays in a condo building on the 28th floor. Something happens and there are zombies everywhere (not really clear if people turn into zombies and why… and if so, why we didn’t turn into zombies either). Apparently, the zombies in this zombieverse like pizza vs brains, and eat all the pizza. Now, there is only one pizza left and it’s in your oven on the 28th floor.
If this were being billed as a serious game, it would lose points here. However, it is deliberately marketed as “hilarious/fun,” so I’ll take the story for what it is.
|As I said the mission is straightforward. And it also has multiple parts, so that’s a bonus. Save your pizza (or turkey). Then find a weapon to kill all the zombies. Then find a way off the 28th floor.
But Mike raises a good point: Why couldn’t we just leave through the stairwell? I can only assume the building is overrun…
|There are a number of mission parameters here:
We need to:
… all before the pizza gets cold.
Pretty straightforward, but the second and third mission parameters are where I have questions… why is the oven locked, and why do we unlock the balcony door if there are zombies on it? Is that our only way out of the building (it’s the 28th floor, so do we have ropes or zip lines from our balcony to safety?).
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|Considering this was a “download and print” Escape game, I really expected the puzzles to be neither plentiful nor difficult. I’ll get to the latter in the next section, but the former was… interesting. Technically, there was a combination lock, but not in the traditional sense. So I’ll say nothing more about that.
There were some rather ingenious puzzles, considering, again, that this is a $20 download and print game (so kudos to LPS for making us think). The problem, however, was that there just weren’t that many puzzles. (The funny part about that fact will be covered in the next section.)
Okay, so I just went and looked at the PDF again and there were puzzles I forgot about. There were enough puzzles. (Bad Jason.) Without just telling you what they were, there’s some ciphers, some pattern matching (harder than you think, but more on that later), maybe even something possibly involving projectiles.
|So, there aren’t really any “locks” in this game… just puzzles that also serve as locks. However, the way that they integrate the printed puzzles with URLs on their websites (which contain the “locks”) is pretty cool.
There are a number of different puzzles to figure out, as well as a kind of scavenger hunt to start the game.
You’ll need your searching skills, in addition to using logic and observation, and then finally have to embrace your inner Dennis the Menace to take down some zombies. I spent about 20 minutes before the game prepping for this part, and my group was ragging on me for making so many items. Well, we probably needed 2-3x as many of the things that I made, so y’all can BITE ME.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|I said in the previous section that I would cover complexity in the next section and, as that’s what this section is titled, I’m going to do just that.
I think we were all somewhat pleasantly surprised that we were stumped with one puzzle. There was a second puzzle that we got stuck on but it turns out I think there was either a typo in the GM instructions or our GM goofed. I need to confirm that in the PDF (which I’m going to do right now).
Okay, I’m back. It was our GM’s fault (dammit Katheryn… We taught you better) for telling us we had the right positions on one of the puzzles. There’s a subtle difference between two of the four puzzle pieces and once we did something to fix this, it was simple. I’m not going to give it away, but it threw us for a loop for several minutes and half the group was like, “no, we exhausted all possibilities.”
The game starts off pretty quick, as you can pretty easily find everything since it’s just laid out in your house. Once you put all the found items together, it’s a task of making lateral connections between them (and that’s not a spoiler, that’s taken right from their website).
And then of course, zombie killing time.
|The puzzles aren’t overly complex, but created more to provide a good time for all ages. This is definitely a game that you can play with the kiddos so there is a mixture of puzzles that relate to skill sets and abilities.
Even though this is a game that you download and set up, you do have to think through a number of these and they are on par with some of the puzzles we find in actual escape rooms.
You’ll need a very attentive GM, however, because some of the puzzles require a lot of, um, precision, in what you have to do in order to actually solve them (hint: look closely at the name of the company).
|One of the biggest factors in this game are the hungry, pizza-loving (sometimes turkey-loving) zombies. They are present throughout, which is the main idea that keeps the game moving along. The subtleties that provide the clues to solving the puzzles are well done and fit the theme of you being stuck in a hotel.
It’s also a nice change that the zombies aren’t looking to just eat my brains, but I’m still pissed that they wanted my pizza/turkey. They must have been in New Yorkers originally…
|After the scavenger hunt that starts the game, the room moves into a pretty linear format, so you’ll need space for everyone to crowd around the puzzles.
Everything in the game does relate to the storyline or the mission, so it is pretty well designed. Another pretty cool thing about this game is that you can customize a lot of the pieces by downloading the source files.
And, we saw some pretty unique actions here that we have seen in some other rooms, and are there to provide just a simple “return to your childhood” kind of enjoyment.
I do think, however, that if the place is overrun with zombies that there should be a “danger” factor present throughout the game. I mean, they want your only remaining pizza, and that’s just not going to effing happen!
|I would say that the majority of the fun to be had with this game is dispatching the zombies. That’s not to take anything away from the game itself, that just happens to be the most fun that I had during the game.
I would not, however, recommended this for someone with no Escape experience.
(And Mike, I want some video footage when you do that.)
|I was surprised at how much fun I had playing this game. It may not have the highest production value, but if you can put that aside, it’s something that you’ll enjoy doing with a group of friends (after a few drinks) or your family.
I think that I’m actually going to play this with my family (including my nephews) the next time I go home. I’ll act as the GM/host since I already know the solutions.
|Game Master (Summary)|
|This was Katheryn’s first foray into being a Game Master. Let’s just say I would tell her to keep her day job (where she is my coworker). Hahaha
All kidding aside, she was liberal with nudges and the hints provided, now that I’ve actually looked through them all, are sufficient and clearly laid out for the game master.
|Our GM was AWFUL, and was overly attentive and kept trying to give us clues when we didn’t ask for them.
I’M SO KIDDING! Our GM was our friend, Katheryn, who offered to moderate the game for our group of friends. She read the rules and set up the room, and did a pretty great job in giving us a good experience.
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|As I said, now that I’ve actually gone through and read what all the hints were, they do get to the point quickly. This is to be expected as this is a pre-designed game and they need to be simple yet stern enough to not just give you the answer. The solutions are, of course, provided if you get that stuff.||Katheryn did help us out when we were trying to solve the one puzzle, but didn’t exactly have the one puzzle piece… um… shaped to the way we needed it to be.
Another one she helped us on because I believe there were two ways to set up the puzzle, and only one way to solve it (maybe should have used different colors to differentiate two of the pieces).
|RAGE Meter||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|I give this a one, only because of those damn pizza eating bastard zombies.
Rating: ? “Miffed” – Fists – 1/5
|Nope, I didn’t feel stupid with this one. It was pretty straightforward and fun to play.
Rating: — FacePalms – 0/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 7.2/10
Final Thought: This is our first review of an escape room game, so we had to modify our rubric and ratings slightly, so you should NOT use this rating against any actual escape rooms, and should only compare those to other posts on escape room GAMES (the post title will tell you ROOM vs. GAME) and the categories for geographical location will be listed as Anywhere.
This game in particular had a pretty simple setup after you printed out the module, but a pretty good price point to keep a group of us occupied for an hour, so you can’t beat the cost per person. One optional task was a hell of a lot of fun, and we look forward to trying out some of their other modules.