Month: May 2020

Room-in-a-box review: Bearscape

Their description: You woke up from your deep slumber and stare ahead, but all you see are walls of grey and silver stretching to no end.

As you hear small distant explosions, you realise that your space station has been hit by meteors!

I’ve played quite a few escape-room-in-a-box games, both commercially-produced and indie ones — but haven’t reviewed any, since I figured there’d be multiple reviews available online. Clearly I had to make an exception for Bearscape, since it’s by a local escape room company.

Bearscape is pitched as an educational escape game, which seems about right. Each puzzle requires some math or science knowledge — my sense is that the content is suitable for PSLE or lower secondary students. Players who have long forgotten their school-era syllabus will probably still be fine, since the information required isn’t obscure. (Full disclosure: I did google once during the game.)

In general, content-focused puzzles run the risk of being little more than glorified trivia quizzes. Happily, that isn’t the case here. There’s a good mix of puzzle mechanisms, some of which are quite creative. As usual for Lockdown, the puzzles are faultlessly logical — though there’s also a helpful deck of hint and solution cards, if needed.

I tend to find that play-at-home games have a negligible storyline, but Bearscape does decently in maintaining one, aided by the fact that the narrative flavourtext for each puzzle contains clues.

Finally, the game’s production values are a delight, both in terms of the cute and polished illustrations, as well as the physical materials and print quality. The sturdy components mean that the game should stand up to multiple replays by different groups.

With its educational focus and polished production values, I’d say this is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for an enrichment class or a post-exam classroom chill-out setting.

For general escape room fans, the game is still solidly WORTH PLAYING. You might hesitate at the S$49.90 price (not least since the game can be played alone, as I did), but I considered it worth paying 1) to support a reliable local escape room company, and 2) because you can pass the game on to others after you finish. A good chance to introduce escape games to friends and family, perhaps?

Puzzle difficulty: 3.5/5
Puzzle logic: 5/5

Use of physical components: 3/5
Storyline integration: 3/5

Their suggested number of players: 1 to 5
My suggested number of players: 1 to 3

Escaping via Zoom

It seems I spoke too soon in my previous post! will be the first Singapore escape room company to hold a Zoom-enabled escape event with its Virtual Agents game on June 6, a 90-minute event for teams of up to five people. Tickets are now on sale. (edit: They’ve now added sessions for June 13.)

I’d love to take part, despite my dislike of videoconferencing, but that also happens to be the first day of the REDDOThunt 2020, of which I’m one of the organisers. We’ll see… I’ve bought my June 6 tickets and will write a review ahead of June 13.

Escaping… online?

Amid the pandemic, escape room companies around the world are going online. Some offer remote playthroughs of their actual, physical room, via videoconferencing: you give instructions to a gamemaster who is in the room and acts as your eyes/ears/hands. Others have created print-and-play kits, or digital escape games. (Escape The Review has quite an extensive list that you can filter by format.)

I don’t know of any escape room companies in Singapore or Malaysia which have launched such digital offerings. (edit, May 28: As it turns out — is holding a virtual escape event on June 6! | edit, June 16: …and is now offering it on a daily basis, with bookings via its website!) does have their existing escape-game-in-a-box, Bearscape (available on Amazon with free delivery in Singapore), and Nomis Piy seems to be launching an escape puzzle book soon. (edit: Here’s my review.)

As for previously-played games which are now available online, SCRAP has a remote version of Escape from the Werewolf Village, which I played many years ago when it was staged in Singapore. 60Out has a remote version of their Miss Jezebel game, which I played in LA last year (and thoroughly enjoyed).

Recently, I received an invitation to play the digital not-quite-an-escape-room Pentargo Quarantine, and have written a review on my other blog. I’ve also ordered Bearscape, and will review that on this blog once it arrives.