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Escape Tales: The Awakening Review

November 2nd, 2018 by

Escape 001A little fist pump here, a little “oh, of course it is” there, a generous sprinkling of “What the F**ck?” all mixed together with a whole host of puzzles and intrigue. That’s the best way to sum up Escape Tales: The Awakening. The simplest way would be to say that it is a cross between a Choose Your Own Adventure book and a puzzle book with app integration.

Escape 002Escape Tales: The Awakening is another in the line of Escape Room puzzles Games and if you remember from Midlife Gamer Episode 273 our very own Uncle Fista got to grips with a couple. Now it’s my turn and it’s quite simply the best way to experience the Escape Room/Lock In phenomenon without leaving your house (or in my case County as there isn’t an Escape room within 150 miles of John o’Groats).

Ok, saying that’s the best part is grossly underselling Escape Tales: The Awakening, it’s not about being trapped in a room with your exit blocked by locks, it’s not about solving puzzle after puzzle to the eventual reward of having your picture taken for a wall of fame or company Facebook page. Escape Tales: The Awakening differs as it’s about telling a story, of being so engrossed in that story that you are actually part of it.

You play Sam, a widower whose only child lies in a deep unexplained coma. With the doctors at a loss to explain why Sam’s daughter is in her current state, they make a leap of faith and delve into the arcane. It is here that the game begins and I say that here as it’s actually a tutorial but I have never, in almost 35 years of gaming, seen a game explain the rules whilst you are playing as well as Escape Tales has executed it. There’s lots of reading, some scene setting, and a good taster of what you have purchased interspersed with the games rules that you will need to adhere to. The latter is done so subtly that for an experienced gamer, whether this be digital or analogue, it just all slots into place and makes perfect sense.

With the app downloaded to your phone, you’ll start reading and utilising action tokens to cover various spots on your reference card, determined by which section of the “room” you have decided to investigate. By “investigate” I mean the page you have turned to in the book and read. The text is always clear, rises your emotional levels without being too fluffy and soft, but most important concise. Regardless of what you are told to do, you will know why.

Escape 003

But what about the puzzles? Well obviously they make up most of the game but also I am going to give very little away as to not spoil your enjoyment when you pick up Escape Tails: The Awakening. Once you have gained a card with the puzzle icon, you have a little peek at it on the app. This is where you will be told which cards you will need to actually attempt the puzzle and once you have collected them then you begin cracking that puzzle.

There are riddles, code breaking, algebra and rotational puzzles (and that’s what I can remember off the top of my head) all of which have to be broken in order to “escape”. Whilst this game can be attempted as a solo game, the more players and more grey matter working together, the easier the game becomes. I even had one gaming night where five players were “locked in” and the sixth player acted like a dungeon master, reading the story and offering a hint at times when the locked in brains had a “moment” – A Puzzle Master so to speak.

The quality of the components are of mid range quality, I mean you can hardly go wrong with tokens and the reference card is of thicker cardboard as you would expect. The actual playing cards are again durable, slightly larger than a poker sized playing card and feel wipeable in case of any small accidents – however I’m sure our analogue gaming veterans (I’m looking at you Daren) will be sleeving these for a more constant and long lasting playtime. The book itself is of a smilar quality to a video game manual so whilst not the most robust, with careful use it will see you right.

Utilising a Choose Your Adventure style means that this story and in turn the game is a little different each time you play. Collecting mini-wins throughout the story helps you to come back again and again, even when you lose. For me Escape Tales: The Awakening is like the gaming equivalent of the films The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en and Ronin. No matter how well I know the story or how it ends I will always come back for another look.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 8/10     Year of Release: 2018
Designer: Jakub Caban, Matt Dembek & Bartosz Idzikowski                                                                                                                  Manufacturer: Board & Dice
RRP:  £22.50 (Pre order price at the Board & Dice Store)

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer reviewed Escape Tales: The Awakening and reviewed the title over the course of  a week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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