Escape Rooms: Escaping the Pandemic


Amanda Chang, Staff Writer

Before the pandemic, escape rooms served as entertainment for many people. Birthday parties, outings, dates, and more could all all be held at one venue. Escape rooms have risen in popularity so much that they have appeared in media like TV shows. But like many non-essentials, escape rooms had to be closed during the pandemic. Despite this, lots of escape room businesses still found ways to host them virtually and escape room-like board games have been created.

As those who have participated in escape rooms know, they can be mysterious, creepy, and stressful, yet fun and even rewarding when solved. How do the alternative versions of escape rooms compare?

Online Escape Rooms

According to Game Informer, “For those wanting to recapture the fun… The Escape Game has a solution. Virtual escape rooms are similar to that of the more familiar in-person versions. The difference… is that players are hosted over Zoom or Skype calls and control a ‘field agent’ in real-time to complete the challenges instead of doing it themselves.”

The “field agent” does what the players tell them to do in a real escape room, but the only perspective the players have is of the field agent. So although the online escape room seems to be quite similar, not all of the players will be able to look around themselves. However, some might see this as an advantage that one would not be able to achieve in person. Over-excited groups would not be as organized and collaborative over each obstacle in person as they would be online. With only one view, the party has to focus on each puzzle one at a time.

Overall, the online version of the escape room is as the description says.

Escape Room Board Games

There are multiple versions of and companies that make escape room board games. One of them is called “Escape Room The Game.” 

According to the website for the game, you can “feel the thrill and enjoy the mystery from [an] escape game in your own home! As in the case in many Escape Rooms across the world, you are ‘locked in’ this game and the object is to find the codes to ‘escape’ within 60 minutes by solving puzzles in riddles.”

Another version of an escape room board game is called “Escape The Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor,” made by the company ThinkFun. In this rendition, players have to search for the astronomer in his mansion and help him escape after he is affected by one of his experiments. Players have a certain amount of time depending on the number of people in their party. 

In ThinkFun’s version, a number of handheld components like envelopes, cards, secret items, and a solution wheel are included to be used throughout the game. 

“It can be frustrating, and it’s easy to get stuck. But it’s also good for team building and it’s very satisfying because of the problem solving,” said sophomore Joshua Sujo, who played the “Stargazer’s Manor” edition with his younger cousins. One of them added that the game was quite stressful and a little bit creepy.

In comparison to the online version and in-person version of escape rooms, the board game is more cost-effective since a number of different players can join without having to pay individually. However, it can only be played once. Many people who left reviews of the game said that they could pass the game on to other families to try. Friends and families can also trade games since there are multiple versions and different companies that have made them and even created different levels of difficulty.

All in all, both types of escape rooms are fun substitutes for the in-person form of escape rooms with their own pros and cons.


Photo courtesy of WESTWORD.COM