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Category: Room in a Box

Escape Kit: Heist of the Century

Escape Kit: Heist of the Century

Escaape Kit

Room Name: Heist of the Century

Business: Escape Kit

Location: Home (Print and Play)

Date of Visit: 2/6/2021

Number of Players: 2-5

Our Group Size: 2

Official Description: You have been selected by the famous White Rabbit, the greatest robber in history. Your objective: Rob the central bank of New York, retrieve the contents of the 777 vault… and leave the premises discreetly. The alarm is deactivated for one hour. An hour to become rich and famous… Will you be able to get out in time ?

Difficulty (official): This is the most difficult game offered by Escape Kit.

Difficulty (experience): Surprisingly difficult!

Time to Escape: around 58 minutes

Heist of the Century

Review: Note: Escape Kit generously provided a free game for this review.

COVID is still raging, especially here in Texas, so we haven’t felt safe enough to go out and play a physical room. We’ve done a few home games before and found them to be okay, but we were always left with something missing.

Escape Kit is a France-based escape game company that is expanding their offerings to English-speaking audiences. They have several games that are geared towards either children or adults, and, of course, we picked the hardest game of them all, out of tradition.

After printing out the files (and a last-minute trip to the store after realizing I didn’t have enough paper), we read through the very thorough instructions. Escape Kit was extremely clear on how to set everything up in a spoiler-free way, so we could both participate in playing. It did take us around 30 minutes to finish the cutting and folding – it’s best to have two or three people participating in the setup due to the amount of pieces. After we had our puzzles sorted and ready to go, we turned on the (excellent) provided soundtrack and went off to rob a bank!

Escape Kit Puzzle

We figured out the first puzzle within a few minutes (and were concerned when the website warned that this puzzle was the hardest of the group), but soon found out that no, the game did ramp up in difficulty. We were happy with the quality of clues and puzzles—we hadn’t seen this kind of variety in an at-home game! We were so engaged in the game that we were both upset to have to take a break to pick up our dinner delivery.

The element that we both agreed that we weren’t super fond of was the last puzzle, which fell into the ‘spooky worksheet’ category (see our review of Escape Cape). While we do understand that we’re limited to what everyone would have in their home, it was somewhat of a letdown after the fun of the previous puzzles. We had hoped we would have a final, clever puzzle and were facing a few seconds worth of busy work. That being said, each puzzle we completed up to that point had an interesting and satisfying solution. We appreciated each step in this escape, even when the solutions eluded us for longer than we’d care to admit.

While we didn’t use the suggested additional materials, we loved how Escape Kit provided mask templates and even suggestions for bank robber costumes and props for the customary post-game photo. They are committed to really having the physical room experience at home, and we definitely hope to see more of them in the future!

Escape Kit Puzzles

Hints Used: All of them (checking answers)

Clue Quality : The clue quality is the kind that we both like the best – gradual nudges instead of immediately giving the final solution. They were clear and easy to follow.

Puzzle Creativity: When it came to creativity, Escape Kit is definitely our favorite of the at-home kits that we’ve played so far. This company was able to develop several interesting ways to deliver solutions just by using regular printer paper and a couple of household items (don’t worry about having to buy anything – if you’re in a home or apartment, you do have these).

Rating: 4 / 5.

Fear Factor:  None. The soundtrack provides good atmosphere and even intensity at times, but there is nothing frightening.

Things to note: You will need Internet access and a printer along with a pair of scissors to setup this escape (and access to the company’s website is required for clues and verifying your solution to the escape). Glue or paperclips will aid in the construction of the game pieces.

Hunt A Killer – Initiation

Hunt A Killer – Initiation

Hunt A Killer

Game Name: Initiation

Business: Hunt A Killer

Location: Game in a Box

Date of Visit: October 2018  – March 2019

Number of Players: NA

Our Group Size: 2

Official Description: Welcome to Listening Friends of America! Our program allows one-way correspondence for individuals who have trouble functioning in the outside world. Rest assured your privacy and safety are among our top concerns. Each package you receive from your friend will be inspected. Any attempt to cause you harm will be removed. You’ve been assigned to a very special patient. He is not like the others. We fear he may not be a good fit for our system. Take your time to understand your new friend. You’re about to begin a very special relationship. Listen well, your friend believes in you. (Video)

Hunt A Killer
A carefully curated box delivered each month. From a serial killer.

Difficulty (official): Unannounced

Difficulty (experience): Varies from box to box, puzzles tend to be on the easy side

Time to Escape: Each box we received provided about an hour of play-time, longer for the initial boxes as we learned to navigate the systems on the website and what exactly we needed to do each month.

Review: We’ve played escape rooms in person and have a couple of escape board games sitting around (we probably should play those sometime soon), so why not try the new-ish format of a monthly escape-in-a-box?

We had seen the ads online and decided to splurge for Hunt A Killer. The mystery on the surface seemed intriguing—we both love Silence of the Lambs—and it’s hard not to feel a bit like Clarice while you’re piecing together the mysteries.

When our first box arrived, we settled into pulling out materials and trying to fit the puzzles together. However, we quickly realized that we were sent one incorrect item and had to log into the HAK hint system to figure out the error. Customer service responded the next day and sent us a PDF of what we needed. The service was excellent, however, we felt a little spoiled on future events due to the error.

Each box contains letters, toys, and other objects which connect to both the puzzles in the box and the larger mystery behind itt. So far we’ve been pleased with how Initiation tells its story, particularly how a certain character is portrayed. However, we had figured out a good portion of the main mystery by the second month.  Despite that we’ve been enjoying the variety of puzzles that the boxes present, and we look forward to seeing the letters that we receive each month.

Hunt A Killer
Each box comes with a variety of letters, folders and an assortment of items related to the story and your killer. Not pictured: spoilers.

The puzzles themselves range from fairly easy to somewhat difficult, however most of that difficulty comes with how the puzzles are presented. We spent over an hour on one puzzle and turned to the HAK forums for help, only to find that the other members believe that the official puzzle solution is incorrect. We also believe this, and it cast doubt on future boxes as to the quality of the rest of the game.

We have heard that the other games that Hunt A Killer offers are better in quality; Initiation is their first game and it does so far show that. With the quality of escape games in a box constantly increasing, we hope that HAK will return to this game and bring it up to a higher standard. As such, we feel that the price point for the game is much higher than we would have liked to have paid for the amount of content and time spent on these puzzles. The overall experience was enjoyable but the formulaic nature of each box and the final solution became repetitive and the novelty of the escape waned by the end of the sixth month.

Hints Used: Due to the nature of the game, the hint system is the only way to confirm if you have finished the entire box each month. So, we used all of them.

Clue Quality : Varies. Some of the clues are quite cleverly put into the materials, others are very vague and require several different angles to figure out what is being indicated. One series of clues presented over several boxes was very clever and enjoyable and other clues were above average for what we have seen in some escape rooms. We would have liked to see more clues referenced between boxes as they relate to puzzles; most of the overarching bits of knowledge were useful in piecing together the story, but only one was ever referenced again for a puzzle.

Puzzle Creativity: HAK has a few moments of brilliance with their puzzles, but it does rely heavily on standard escape room codes and practices.

Rating:  3 / 5.

Fear Factor:  None. A number of the clues and the story at the heart of the game can create some intense moments of dread, but if you’re playing this in the dining room as we did, the scariest thing is the pile of dishes back in the kitchen that you’re ignoring while completing the current month’s box.

Things to note: This experience is comprised of six boxes which are scheduled to be shipped monthly by default. You can ask for the next box to be shipped at any time if you are ready for the next part of the experience. The total cost of the first episode is $180 if you pay $30 monthly; discounts are available off of the total if you prepay for a six or twelve-month Season Pass.

Hunt A Killer