Location: Your Home!
Players: We recommend 1-4
Dr. Gnaw’s Gnarly Gn-experiments.
From the Mattel Games website:
A mad scientist is plotting to turn you and your friends into werewolves. Only if you and your team members can solve 19 2D and 3D puzzles in an hour will you be able to escape with your humanness intact! You’ll have to work as a team—so put your heads together and let’s see if you can escape.
I’ve been hearing about Escape Room in a Box’s The Werewolf Experiment for a while, it’s the Kickstarter success story that seemed like quite the sensation, but it took us entirely too long to get our hands on a copy. With the sequel, Flashback, already in stores, we knew it was time to finally pick one up and see what the fuss was all about.
There is so much secret stuff in here. Like loads.
The story of The Werewolf Experiment is filled to the brim with so much great 80s slang, and though it caught us completely off guard, I thought it was immediately charming and brought a lot of personality to the missing Dr. Gnaw. In fact, the game presented a much lighter hearted, joke filled experience than I was initially expecting, and this was definitely a good thing. The whole adventure is extremely approachable, explaining things in theme while still ensuring that all the rules and puzzles are intuitive, ensuring the game is great fun for escapists young and old. Puzzles remain on the easier side of things, ensuring that this is a great start to any at home puzzler’s career, and the difficulty curve remains gentle, but increases the complexity during later levels of the experience. The game flow is great, and everything links into meta puzzles well. Every stage of the game presents new conundrums, and it is very clear what solutions go where without sacrificing the challenge of solving the puzzles.
Components in the box are great, and pack a lot into the game. The locks are plastic, but instead of feeling cheap, they work splendidly and do their jobs more than admirably. They’re a lot of fun to play around with, and though they aren’t going to win any awards for security, they’re an excellent way to add variety to an at home escape. Other props are just as enjoyable to manipulate and use during the adventure, and Escape Room in a Box packs some unexpected surprises into almost every prop we came across, no matter how innocuous it may have seemed at first. Cluing is fantastically done, and with a non-linear game flow, even a larger group will stay fully engaged from start to finish.
Real locks? Sold!
A lot of the puzzles in the box are pretty basic. In fact, the opening part of the game is more basic than usual, as many of the challenges presented are akin to those found in a family puzzle book. This will appeal to newer players, but enthusiasts will not be as impressed. Some answers are extremely easy to work out when looking at the master sheet used to enter words into blanks to complete each stage’s meta puzzle. While it feels clever to do so, it does cheapen the experience when the corresponding puzzle is bypassed. Adding in a timer is hit or miss for at home experiences, and per usual for us, we just ignored it in favor of having a good time. We do mark our start and stop times so we can get a handle on the play time for all experiences, and this one clocked in at around 45 minutes, so it isn’t too far off the mark on general play time. $30 may be a little steep for experienced players who will probably blow through the adventure. The climax of the game is a little anticlimactic overall, ending the story with less of a bang than we’d hoped for.
Escape Room in a Box’s The Werewolf Experiment is a lot of fun, but is definitely geared more towards new players and families seeking an approachable at home escape room experience. It still contains enough fun bits for enthusiasts, (and to be clear, we had a great time,) but may not present the best value proposition for players who might blow through the game quickly at the full $30 price. New players will have loads of fun with this game, however, and I absolutely recommend it to those players and puzzle veterans who are looking to induct new fanatics to the hobby. Purchase your Werewolf Experiment at your friendly local game store! We recommend the ever excellent Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!