Updated: Apr 10
Last year, we reviewed Season 1 of Trapped, the escape-room-in-a-box series from Golden Bear, Fantastic Factory and SolidRoots, with The Carnival providing entertainment at a 10 year old's birthday party, The Bank Job locking down another positive, and The Art Heist winning Best in Show. Tho' the box says it's still part of Season 1, we’re kicking off what for us is Season 2 at The Zoo, the easiest of the new trio, played by a father and son team.
To recap, Trapped games come in a rectangular pouch (which can double as a clipboard) containing 20-30 component elements, a few of which are usually folded or cut in play. The games take from 45 to 75 minutes. The games accommodate 2-6 players and are rated Easy, Medium and Hard, with the genre USP of physically arranging the components around the room (for example, ‘shredded’ documents in the bin, CCTV cameras high in the corners of the room). Residue-free stickers are included to help you place the components. The Zoo has, like the other Trapped games, a main reference sheet which is used to check answers are correct. Thematically, your objective here is to recapture eight mischievous meerkats. The puzzles have answers that are all times of the day, so looking for numeric clues is the main activity and the eight puzzles range from about 1 to 4 on a difficulty scale of 10, using counting, folding, jigsaw pieces, colour pairing, and perception. Completing each puzzle rewards you with a meerkat, and the whole gang are then used in a logic puzzle finale.
Trapped: The Zoo, much like other ERiaBs, does not feel confined in any way, but works well as an introductory experience to the genre for budding puzzlers or first-time families. The art and design serve their purpose and the paragraph clue system is clear when needed. However, the answer check system in this iteration felt woolly and distinctly under-utilised as a game mechanic - it could have created a linked chain of puzzles to evoke a stronger narrative, rather than being inconsequential beyond mere affirmation. Similarly, this time around, the physical location aspect was moot.
As such, like The Carnival in Season 1, this is a reasonable escapade for younger puzzlers or non-gamer novices; there is very little in here that will test someone who has completed the easier EXIT or Unlock! games. My son, at 10, did not find it challenging, though he has played all the Unlock!s and Deckscapes, which is probably atypical for a child his age. That does kinda make me miss the excitable days of him running around the room hunting for clues; hopefully yours are young enough to still find that wonder.
(Review by David Fox)