The Best Escape Room Games

26 July 2022
What are the best games for that escape room vibe? Board games have leant in beautifully to the fun of the escape rooms, blending puzzle and party for the perfect option for causal gamers, without the need to head outside. We're counting down some of the best escape room games...

Originally written by Christopher John Eggett, updated by Charlie Pettit


The classic escape room game in a small box. The puzzles can range from pretty simple right up to brain-bendingly tricky. Set your group’s expectations based on the rating on the side of the box. There’s usually a destructive element to the games which is either exhilaratingly irreverent, or panic inducing, depending on what people think a games night is about. After the first cut, you get used to it, after all, you sometimes won’t be able to progress without a little destruction. Particularly good entries are the Orient Express, and Abandoned Cabin outings – but for a more sedate pace, go for the puzzle versions of the game. The upcoming Lord of the Rings edition is also set to provide some new surprises in a robust system.

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A favourite around these parts – Timeless Adventures is our go-to recommendation – but they’ve all got a little bit of the Unlock! magic about them. With three scenarios in the box players will be coming together to work out a mystery – sometimes that’s getting out of somewhere, sometimes it’s working out who stole the clown’s nose at the circus. Unlock! probably widens the scope of what the game will ask you to do in terms of rethinking your ideas into a broader point of view – beyond the chopping up and box-hunting of the Exit titles. Often funny, they’re a great cross-generational game that can work for everyone around the table. If you’re happy for people to be using an app during your gaming night, this one is a winner.

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For those looking for the most amount of plastic prop for their buck, then look no further. Escape Room: The Game is a classic entry level escape room experience. Inside each box is a large, somewhat panic-inducing timer and decoder. This is designed so you can enter a certain set of keys to unlock the mystery and escape, deciding which ones are the right ones is the problem. Using a set of paper and cardboard props a group can work on different elements at the same time, making this a great entry for bigger groups. Oh, and every time you get a key wrong you not only lose time – but you get to be buzzed by the big plastic box. It’s the closest you can get to an actual escape room ‘party’ experience without locking guests in the shed. The second box of the series is our favourite.

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An unassuming and budget priced box of cards makes this one of the better cheap and cheerful escape room series to have a flutter on. Get out the little deck of cards and work together to make your way out of whatever situation you’re in. Escape From Alcatraz is probably the one that fits the bill best, but each adventure sees new mechanics thrown into the mix such as choose your own path elements as well as the usual lateral thinking puzzles. Because of the deck of cards format, players are likely going to have to be around the same table space, so ideally one for smaller groups (or solo).




Using the coded chronicles system – which makes this a bit like breaking your way out of a safe. As with any game featuring the Scooby Gang, this is a great game for collaboration. Each character has their own ability they’ll be able to use in the various rooms they’re investigating. Working out the right combination of people, object and locations to get through the envelopes and into the next part of the case is key to winning the game. Whether you’ve done it or not will be down to the number of Scooby Snacks you’ve got left at the end of the game (i.e. not stress eaten). If you’re a fan of the legacy game ‘open the envelope’ style of experience, then there’s plenty to Scooby-Dooby-Doo in here.

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Related article: The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel, another Coded Chronicles game


6. Unlock! Short Adventures

Love the idea of the Unlock! Adventures, but need something a little more pocket-sized? Being smaller than a standard pack of cards, Unlock's short adventures offer exactly what you're looking for. Despite their small packaging, there's no compromise on the brain scratching puzzles, they're just far easier to keep handy in your pocket or bag ready for any gaming opportunity to arise. There are currently six of these adventures of varying difficulty and seriousness, for which you only need your phone to play.  

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One of the originals – a simple place to start for those who have no idea what’s going to be in a box like this, let alone how to get out of one. Here, using a classic decoder wheel, players work through a series of envelopes to discover the truth at the heart of this 1869 mystery. Strange things are happening at the manor of a famous astronomer, who has gone missing since the death of his wife. Odd noises and unpleasant smells set the scene for something extremely unusual happening up on the hill. A great place to kick off your escape room career.

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It may seem a strange addition to a list that's suitable whatever time of year you find it, but the annual Exit Calendar offers 24 puzzles in an extremely pleasing box. Should you purchase it around the festive period, you'll have a brain teasing countdown to enjoy, but with a few years already out and available, to catch up to date there's no harm in playing through it when the sun is still shining. Depending on which year you pick depends on what flavour you end up with, but you're guaranteed to be scratching your head each morning when faced with these. 

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One part Mazescape, one part origami, and every other part escape room game, Unfold cleverly presents its mystery in a small package. As you begin to solve the mysteries, you unfold another section, gaining another mystery to solve until you reach the narrative end. Impressively, it doesn't compromise on any of the components, meaning you'll find extra props as you go along. There's something truly satisfying about opening one of the answer doors to find out you've got the right answer, and even more so when you've escaped from where you are – be that a pyramid or a prison!

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A mystery-meet-haunted-house game, offering a spooky atmosphere to players in their own home. The game uses augmented reality (i.e. pointing an iPad at stuff) to put weird happenings in your own home. Using large trigger cards that you lay out around the room you’re playing in, you use the tablet of your choice as a portal into a much darker world. Players work as a team to uncover the clues that are now, seemingly, present in their own home, and attempt to escape the dark mansion. With a mix of talking to spirits through Ouija boards and interacting with a host of ghoulish object – plus a great soundtrack – this could be your immersive horror get-me-out-of-here game of choice.


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