Updated: Sep 13, 2020
The story so far... David has the three Trapped escape room games from publishers Golden Bear and Fantastic Factory. Having tested out Trapped: The Bank Job, the plan is to set up the Trapped: The Carnival 'Escape Room in a Box' game as an event at son James' 10th birthday party.
B minus 4 days - Preparation
I figure I need to know what's in store for the kids in The Carnival, so I run through it. Eleven puzzles, with an 8-bit style check off list to use as a way of verifying correct answers that also has a trick up its sleeve. The majority of these puzzles are less creative self-contained single sheets, again placed around the room, but there is less theme here and the purpose of the placement seems to be to separate players so they have their own space to work in.
As with The Bank Job, the clue book is good: it's a nice system that I think the kids will enjoy using in and of itself because of the 'secret decoder' aspect. I breezed through eight of the puzzles, took a hint on two, and a couple of hints on the riddle, though later realised I could have 'worked around it', as many ERiaBs allow you to. D'oh! After playing, I asked my son if he wanted to make the game competitive - six score sheets are included - but he's too much of a co-op player to want to miss that opportunity. I think tho' that it would work better as a competition.
As many a parent knows, hosting a three-hour birthday party for a group of 9/10 year olds is fairly daunting in and of itself; getting them to concentrate on an Escape Room game while doing so is close to insanity. I'm happy to say Trapped: The Carnival went down well, though my son was disappointed that there was no 'final puzzle' to signal an 'escape': in fact, the 'escape' was actually to join the Carnival, which seemed anti-thematic.
All the kids engaged at different stages, both the rambunctious ones and the studious ones, with one girl doggedly pursuing each and every answer, proud to get a score good enough for 11-14 year olds (according to the scoring chart). Though he enjoyed both playing and running the game, again James was disappointed the puzzles in The Carnival didn't really involve combining different elements and were a bit 'math-y'. Some puzzles stretched the kids just in experience - two of the kids had not even seen a standard deck of playing cards (for shame!). Overall, a success - especially the visual trickery - but with caveats.
(Review by David Fox)