At The Fandomentals, we regularly try out escape room board games where the board is the escape room. ThinkFun’s Escape the Room brand of games (distributed by Ravensburger) provides four different escape room experiences for 1-4 players. I got the opportunity to play the newest release Murder in the Mafia which follows Chicago’s leading PI and was a lot of fun and definitely challenged my puzzle solving skills.
Too bad a visit to your office finds Mafia enforcer Mickey Malone dead on the floor and shot by your own gun! The Mafia doesn’t take kindly to losing one of their own. With the Mafia after your head and the police hot on your heels, get ready for your hardest challenge yet–because if you can’t crack this case, you won’t escape your office alive.
Escape the Room games all come in one box with all the pieces needed taped or connected to the box in some way, though there may be some free standing pieces. In Murder in the Mafia the free-standing pieces are the bookshelf, water cooler, and file cabinet. The desk on the ground also has to be pulled up into place, but that’s all the set up required once you open the box and fit the sides into their holders so it will stand up by itself.
From there you grab the solution wheel and the story/instruction booklet and get playing.
Escape rooms in board game format usually play out the same way. You’ll set up the box/game board and all your clues and puzzles are in the game board itself. However you cannot move forward throughout the game until you have successfully figured out the solution to each puzzle. In this case, the game starts by tasking the player to find the PI’s important files before the police arrive or his ex-partner and dirty cop show back up to find the items.
From there you go through each chapter finding items and clues to figure out who killed Mickey Malone and meet four important characters over the course of the four chapters before confronting the killer in chapter 5 (assuming you’ve figured it out properly).
Fortunately there is a companion website which provides a Spotify playlist (delightful), hints, and how to reassemble the box before passing it onto another player.
I’m not afraid to admit that I had to use the hints a few times, partly because I was confused by some of the instructions and partly because the way this game is set up leads to some areas being difficult to see. There’s also one puzzle that requires folding paper in a certain way, which I totally messed up so be gentle!
As you follow the story and look for clues, you’ll solve puzzles. In doing so you’ll find symbols that you must line up on the solution wheel. If you got the right symbol both of the inner circles should match the symbol of the puzzle you’re working on. For example to open the safe, you need the three numbers from three items in the office. Once you line up the safe wheel to match those numbers, check if those numbers correspond to the symbol on the wheel. When you see the safe symbol in both inner circles, you’ve successfully solved the puzzle, can open the safe, and move forward.
The game continues in this way until you’ve explored the entire office and figured out who it is that killed Mickey and why. I had a lot of fun playing it and for roughly an hour and half to two hours of fun, it’s definitely worth a buy.
You can grab Escape The Room: Murder in the Mafia and any of the other options on Amazon!
Images and review copy courtesy of Ravensburger
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