Escape Room In A Box: Flashback Review - The Second Best At-Home Escape Room

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Escape Room In A Box: Flashback is filled with brain-bending puzzles, but it seems like they could be more appropriately themed Mattel

Escape rooms are all about putting participants into a 3D puzzle, filled with small nooks and crannies to hide away the answers. A good escape room involves people tearing things off the walls, scrounging through bookshelves and getting completely immersed in whatever theme the particular escape room features. While it’s impossible to perfectly replicate that kind of environment at home, especially with a product that comes out of a box, the team at Escape Room In A Box is far more successful than any other.

The second effort from the puzzlers at Wild Optimists, Escape Room In A Box: Flashback, is full of physical surprises, while still featuring more traditional pen and paper puzzles. This time, players must race against the clock to escape “pain and torture” from the puzzle’s antagonist, Doc Gnaw. The only way out is to crack open four locked containers to build a ring that can reverse the process of being turned into a werewolf.

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Everything players are given at the start of Flashback Photo: Mattel

Without spoiling any of the puzzles or surprises, Escape Room In A Box: Flashback is filled with content. One of the best aspects of the game is it always seems like there is something else to do. When playing with a group, people can jump from one puzzle to the next, handing each one off to someone else to get a fresh set of eyes on the problem. 

The puzzles also have some great variety, so if you are more a word person or a number person, or even someone who thrives on physical puzzles, there’s something just right for you. Of course, like a real escape room, there are puzzles in Flashback where you feel like the answer is just within reach, but you can’t quite put together the final piece to solve it.

The components in Flashback are all pretty solid. While the plastic padlocks could probably just be pulled open if you yanked hard (which would obviously ruin the fun of figuring out the answers), they are sturdy enough that you can get several wrong efforts before finding the proper solution. There are a few other fun components hidden away in Flashback, but I’ll let you find those for yourself instead of ruining the surprise here.

The headline of this review mentions that Flashback is the second best at-home escape room, and that’s because it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, Escape Room In A Box: The Werewolf Experiment. While the puzzles in Flashback are fun and give you quite the mental workout, the overall theme of Flashback isn’t felt as strongly as The Werewolf Experiment. The puzzles seem a little disjointed and the overall narrative didn’t serve as a major motivating factor for our group.

Additionally, while it felt like we completed the overall goal of Flashback by building the ring to save us from a serious case of lycanthropy, we didn't solve all of the puzzles to get there, and missed out on the final step. It does seem a little cheap how the last step is implemented, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who may want to give it a go.

There was also a lack of those big “A-ha!” moments found in The Werewolf Experiment. I fondly remember a certain moment involving a pencil in the first Escape Room In A Box, along with a hidden blacklight, but Flashback only had one minor moment that could compare. It would have been nice to see more ways to explore built into Flashback like what was found in The Werewolf Experiment.

Another issue is that Flashback, like any other at-home escape room, lacks replayability. It’s possible to print out new puzzle sheets and reset the locks, but once you know the answers, the puzzles aren’t as fun to solve. Thankfully, Flashback is relatively inexpensive, and can be bought right now on Amazon for around $20. Considering how going to a proper escape room would probably cost around $20 per person, this at-home experience is a steal by comparison. Once completed, I suppose you could put everything back together and pass it along to a friend.

All in all, Escape Room In A Box: Flashback is a really fun recreation of an escape room for your home. There are physical doo-dads to play around with, tough puzzles to crack, and a great feeling of accomplishment when you unlock each of the padlocks. While Flashback doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor in terms of a compelling mix of puzzles, theming and surprises, it still stands tall over other at-home escape room experiences and cements the Escape Room In A Box brand as the one to beat.

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