Escape rooms and other real-life, immersive puzzle experiences have surged in popularity in recent years. Friends willingly enter into a locked room packed with clues and are tasked with working through the hints to unlock the solution and find a way out. It sounds like a recipe for, well, ex-friends. Yet the drive to solve a puzzle as a team ends up bringing people together.
Related: 11 Mystery Board Games to Keep the Thrills Coming on Game Night
With fewer opportunities to visit escape rooms in person at the moment, why not bring the fun home to you? These thrilling escape room board games capture the intricacy and ingenuity of their on-location counterparts, with some having a timed element to capture the pulse-pounding intensity of a real escape room experience! So (safely) gather with your fellow sleuths and prepare for a night of perplexing fun. Here are our top picks for the best escape room board games.
4 Thrilling Escape Room Adventures
Escape in under 60 minutes from the comfort of your living room. This set comes with four unique escape room scenarios: a Prison Break, a Nuclear Countdown, the Temple of the Aztec, and (of course) Virus. Keep your mind sharp, your hands ready, and dial in the correct keys on the decoder to escape before the alarm starts.
EXIT: The Game 3-Pack
This bundle collects three of EXIT: The Game's best escape room board games. Will your car break down in the woods, leaving you to seek shelter in The Abandoned Cabin, only for the doors to mysteriously lock overnight? Or will you be trapped while on vacation in Egypt, lost in a maze of ancient passages and cryptic riddles in The Pharoh's Tomb? Or maybe you all volunteered to participate in a medical study, only to encounter noxious vapors in The Secret Lab?
Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor
The town has not seen or heard from the astronomer since the passing of his wife, but there are numerous reports of strange happenings at his manor: jarring sounds, disturbing smells, and an ominous plume of smoke rising from the observatory. Now it's up to you and your closest sleuths to explore the Stargazer's Manor in search of an explanation and, hopefully, find the stargazer himself before it's too late.
Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion
At this point, people of all ages are familiar with Scooby-Doo and the gang. Indeed, these cartoon mystery solvers have likely dealt with more escape room scenarios than anyone else. Step into the shoes of Fred, Daisy, Themla, or Shaggy, or place yourself in the paws of Scooby themself, as you and your fellow sleuths work together to Escape from the Haunted Mansion. Some of your friends may need a Scooby Snack if you want their help solving the mystery, though.
Unlock! Timeless Adventures
Escape rooms also come in card form, as demonstrated by UNLOCK! Timeless Adventures' cooperative scenarios. You'll need to save yourselves, solve the mystery, and even thwart malicious plans. The Noside Show follows a circus with an unscheduled sabotage act! Arsene Lupin and the Great White Diamon has you and your friends participate in a 20th-century jewel race through Paris. And Lost in the Timewarp will see you escaping from an alternate timeline instead of just a room. Make sure to download the companion app to enhance your playing experience.
Escape from Iron Gate
Maybe you and your companions are just friends of circumstance. In this case, the circumstance is all of you being wrongfully accused of committing a crime. Escape from Iron Gate involves up to 8 potential jailbirds. Together, you must work together to break out of the prison and make your way to freedom! Gather information about the prison in different areas, noticing weaknesses in the security or hiding useful items for later use.
Escape Room: The Game
The name says it all. In Escape Room: The Game, you'll put your minds together to solve the hardest riddles, see the patterns in esoteric symbols, and crack the toughest codes. Perfect for a party of any size, and easy to set up over and over to set a new winning streak. All you have to do is open a lock with 256 different combinations, that's not too hard... right?
Escape Room in a Box
These last two employ a supernatural twist, because the best way to increase the anxiety of an escape room is to introduce a werewolf (and a mad-scientist at that)! You have 90 minutes to escape the lab of Doctor Gnaw, with multiple pathways for different experiences. If you have an Amazon Alexa, you can sync it up with your gameplay to enhance the fun with atmospheric soundtracks and possible hints.
Escape Room In a Box: The Werewolf Experiment
One hour to find an exit or you all get turned into werewolves—how's that for an incentive to conquer this escape room board game? Remember to connect with Alexa to enhance your gameplay, and hurry to solve physical and mental puzzles alike. Like the rest of the games on this list, the drive to fulfill the same goal will prove to friends and family that cooperation is a powerful tool. Trust in each other and you can do it!
Featured image: Kamil Feczko / Unsplash