I have always loved escape room games, and since my other half (who has never done a ‘real’ escape room before) and I tried out a boxed escape room earlier in the year and both loved it, we have been looking for a version that we would be able to play with the kids. The girls are 9 and 11; the 9-year-old loves problem solving and has a very analytical mind, but the 11-year-old tends to prefer more physical things and can get bored easily so we thought something where she would have to think and concentrate would do her good!
There are 3 packs in the Trapped Escape Room series – an easy, a medium and a hard level challenge, all for ages 8+ and 2-6 players, and we were lucky enough to be sent all three to try out. The range consists of:
- The Carnival (Difficulty level: Easy): Your lifelong dream is to work among the jaw-dropping performers of Muggins Carnival, but wait! Nothing is what it seems as you race to solve the Ringmaster’s baffling puzzles. Work together as a team or go head-to-head with other players to see who’ll be crowned King or Queen of the carnival.
- The Art Heist (Difficulty level: Medium): In Art Heist, the obscenely rich Harrington family invites you to an exhibition of their priceless art. Upset that his family hoards wealth, though, their youngest son, Charles, asks your party to steal a painting? Fearing detection, Charles leaves only a series of clues to help you find the right artwork. But you’re not alone! Charles has also convinced one of the staff to help you escape… Can you find the painting, steal it and flee the scene, all in 60 minutes?
- The Bank Job (Difficulty level: Hard): In The Bank Job, you and the other players are a gang of bank robbers? Intel suggests that if you’re a party to this one job, you’ll be set for life! Locked in a secure vault and under heavy surveillance, can you work together as a team to pull off the crime in the nick of time? Sleeping gas has knocked out the security guards and everyone else in the building so you are safe for now? But hurry! In sixty minutes you’ll need to choose your strategy: finish the mission or abort and run!
We really liked how the games were packaged up, with very little plastic used at all. Each box contains an instruction sheet with a little story to set the scene, along with multiple cards and clues to solve, a decipher for clues as you go along and even little props to really help make you part of the game. All you will need to add yourself is a pencil and some paper. Trapped promises the ability to turn any room in your house into an escape room – this does mean that each game will take the adults about 5-10 minutes to set up the room, but it really makes you feel a part of the puzzle and adds a real physical element to the game too. Being on your feet and walking round the room trying to hunt for clues or to match clues together makes the whole experience far more like a real escape room than sitting round the kitchen table would, and it really appealed to my eldest as she much prefers being up and active.
Setting up the games is really simple, and the instructions are very clear. There is no need to do anything that will make a big mess or have the kids riffling through drawers or cupboards. We set all of our games up in the kitchen, and for the most part, the instructions just told us to pop clues on surfaces or stick them to walls. Low-tack sticky pads are included, but we have just had the kitchen decorated and the units refinished, so we made sure to stick the clues to tiles, glass surfaces and magnetic surfaces such the dishwasher!
We started off with the easiest pack – The Carnival. We made a real occasion out of it for the kids as they were so excited, so we put out sweets in bowls, popcorn and made milkshakes for them. Setting the game up was really simple and when they walked into the room after we had it organised, they couldn’t wait to dig in and get started. I read out the story to set the scene and we got stuck in. We decided to buddy up and have one adult and one child to a team so that we could poke them in the right direction if they had needed it, but they honestly didn’t! The clues were so engaging and fun, and with the carnival theme were brightly coloured and engaging, that they were happy to just dig straight in.
We really loved that the game is quite open and that for the vast majority of the game there is no need to complete the clues in any particular order. This meant that if one of the teams struggled a bit with one of the clues, they could put it down and move onto something else. The other team could then pick it up, and might have a slightly different way of looking at it which would solve it straight away.
If you do get really stuck, there are hint reference numbers on the reverse of the clues which allow you to look for individual clues through a cipher. We thought this was a great way of doing it as it is impossible to accidentally see more clues than you wanted to, or even to be tempted to have a sneaky peek! We all loved The Carnival and would rate it as an easy 5/5.
Because of the success of The Carnival we were all really excited to play The Art Heist, so a few days later we opened it up and booted the kids out of the kitchen whilst we set it up. It was just as easy as the first one to set up, so when the kids came into the room, we were ready to play.
Because of the theme of this pack (The Art Heist rather than The Carnival), it didn’t look quite as exciting or bright which I think was a bit of a shame because it is still aged 8+ so very much targeted at kids and families.
Unfortunately, that isn’t where our issues with this particular pack ended, and we all felt somewhat at sea with it. Whilst the idea of the games is that they are open and that the clues don’t need to be solved in a specific order, we felt that this one was just a little too obtuse and we actually didn’t have a clue what to do for the first fifteen minutes or so; none of the clues seemed to make any sense to us. After about 15 minutes of head-scratching, the kids decided they had had enough and left my other half and I to play this one out, which was a real disappointment as they had been so looking forward to it.
We adults didn’t fare much better and for the majority of the clues, had to read all of the hints to get anywhere near solving them. I have to say that even after reading some of the clues to the end, we were still a bit baffled as to where some of the solutions came from and we felt it really was just a bit too abstract. I would reluctantly have to rate this one at 2/5, which is a shame given the success of the first game.
Because we had struggled so much with The Art Heist, we were all a bit reluctant to move onto The Bank Job, so it was a week or two before we attempted it. I am pleased to report, though, that we needn’t have been concerned and The Bank Job is a fabulous return to form following the disappointing second game.
As this as the hardest rated game, we weren’t quite sure how the kids would manage, and whilst it was definitely harder than The Carnival, all of the clues made sense and could be deduced from what you had in front of you. We did have to resort to hints on a couple of occasions, but were then kicking ourselves afterwards that we hadn’t seen what was so blindingly obvious!
The Bank Job was great fun, just like the Carnival was, and provided a bit more challenge for slightly old kids and adults. My 9-year-old was fine with it and loved it, but I think she might have struggled a bit more if there weren’t older players in the room. I would also rate this pack at 5/5.
Overall, we loved the Trapped series and thought they were great fun. We all really liked how the whole room was transformed into an escape room and that there was the aspect of wandering around the room, rather than everyone being sat around the table. The games were accessible to everyone who was played, from the oldest to the youngest, there was something for everyone. The games are for 2-6 players, and we felt that playing as a group of 4 was probably about ideal. Once we are all allowed into each other’s homes again, these would make a fantastic activity for kids’ sleepovers or birthday parties, and in the meantime they are perfect for a special family night in.
Series 2 (three new games) is due to be released later this month, so there will be even more themes to pick from and even more fun to be had!
Rating: The Carnival 5/5 | The Art Heist 2/5 | The Bank Job 5/5 | Overall 4/5
RRP: £12.99 each