Escape Academy review: Escape room fun, minus the stakes

Escape Academy

MSRP $20.00

“Escape Academy delivers lovingly crafted puzzles that shine in co-op play, but it may possibly’t fully replicate the thrills of a real-life escape room.”


  • Well-designed rooms
  • Manageable logic puzzles
  • Great for youths and adults
  • Excellent co-op


  • Underdeveloped story
  • No real consequences
  • Very short

Sometimes, a no brainer idea can turn right into a deceptively tricky puzzle. That’s the case with Escape Academy, a recent indie title that brings the thought of an escape room to your front room. It’s a grand-slam idea, one which the sport achieves in lots of respects, but not without struggling to nail down a couple of solutions.

That’s not attributable to a scarcity of experience. Developed by Coin Crew Games, the first-person puzzle game was created by individuals who designed real-life escape rooms before the pandemic. Coin Crew desired to properly honor that have in video game form, replicating the satisfying joy that comes from solving an intricate puzzle box. Loads of escape room fundamentals translate to a digital medium perfectly, though others don’t quite slot in as cleanly.

Escape Academy delivers expertly crafted puzzles that shine in a co-op setting, though it struggles to copy the strain of an actual escape room. With its limited variety of levels and short run time, I’m already trying to sign myself up for a much bigger, more complex sequel.

The art of escape

When the sport begins, players are quickly enrolled in a university with the only real purpose of teaching students the art of escape. There’s a spy narrative through line to the sport, which links its disparate puzzle rooms together, but it surely’s little greater than a clever set dressing to create some fun tests. There are traces of creative worldbuilding, but they’re just a little lost within the briefest of dialogue interstitials.

Each room is entirely distinct from another, bringing a mixture of inventive puzzles to match the theme.

Escape Academy excels where it counts: puzzle design. Throughout the sport, players will solve just over a dozen puzzle rooms as they earn Pokémon-like badges. Each room is entirely distinct from another, bringing a mixture of inventive puzzles to match the theme. As an example, one room has me making a cup of tea. I’m dropped right into a greenhouse with a stovetop in the middle. Over the course of the extent, I’m dropping tea leaves under a microscope and counting elements of its cells to deduce a lock combination. One other set piece plays out like an motion movie, where I’m radioing numbers over to my professor as I watch her orchestrate a jail break via security monitors.

What’s especially nice is that no room feels obtuse or confusing, even the late game ones. I used to be never overwhelmed by having too many clues and objects I could interact with at one time. I’d normally have a couple of key items available at a time and a few noticeable level design hints to direct my attention along. That especially makes it feel like a real escape room, because it’s not built to make you are feeling lost. If you happen to see a piano, you realize you’ll have to play it; it’s only a matter of determining what other puzzle will let you know the best keys to press. Even if you happen to do get mixed up, a generous hint system offers clear nudges, making this much friendlier for players of all ages.

A row of computers show a puzzle in Escape Academy.

The primary-person perspective works here too, letting players replicate the experience of anxiously pacing around a room. One especially small, but nice touch is the power to pin a clue to the screen, making things like cypher puzzles much easier to finish without the necessity for a pen and paper. I wish there have been more ways to jot down down clues in-game — my moleskin stuffed with numbers and notes currently makes me appear like a serial killer — however the puzzles are bite-sized enough that it’s generally easy to maintain a brief secure combination or shape pattern in mind.

Missing keys

It’s clear that the sport was lovingly crafted by escape room experts as each level is full of intuitive logic puzzles which are easy to like. It gets just a little messier with regards to replicating the high-stakes energy that real world escape rooms bring. In those scenarios, it’s a race against the clock with teams struggling to flee the room before they’re kicked out by the 25-year-old running the front desk.

Escape Academy isn’t quite capable of capture that very same manic spirit. Each level has a cut-off date and a clock menacingly counts down at the highest of the screen, but it surely’s a placebo. If time runs out, there’s no consequence. The room just continues on as normal. The one downside is that you just’ll get a rather worse grade on the report card you receive at the tip of each level.

There’s no good reason to pop back right into a level apart from trying it in co-op.

Those grades aren’t exactly a robust incentive to do higher. There are not any leaderboards where players can compare scores and even room-clearing times. The dearth of friends list competition is smart, because when you’ve solved a room, there’s not much challenge left. You may easily replay it armed with every puzzle answer and get an A+ in minutes. There’s no good reason to pop back right into a level apart from trying it in co-op.

That’s where the digital and physical escape room experiences are available in conflict with each other. You’re only meant to do an actual one once. The specter of a failure makes an escape room an exciting night out, but failure isn’t as meaningful in a game. You may all the time reset or try again. In a single room, I needed to cut the best wires on a bomb. If I tousled, my only consequence was that a couple of minutes would tick off the clock. I could screw up as much as I liked until I finally snipped the best wire. What was the sport going to do, tell me I couldn’t try again unless I paid for an additional attempt?

To its credit, Escape Academy finds other clever ways to bring a way of tension. Real escape rooms can induce light panic, but it surely’s all the time a secure environment with low stakes. Here, players are thrown right into a burning library or a series of slowly flooding rooms. Those scenarios make the race to flee feel more exciting, though that lack of a meaningful fail consequence proves to be an actual challenge.

I wouldn’t mind that as much if there was just a little more to the package. Escape Academy only features around a dozen rooms, most of which I breezed through before I hit the suggested cut-off date. It only took me around three hours to finish it. An epilogue would allow me to pop back in and replay old rooms at any time, but there’s not much fun in that.

The last word couple’s game

If you happen to’re going to play Escape Academy, I highly recommend doing so with a friend. The whole story will be accomplished with two players in split-screen mode, and it’s where the sport truly shines. While I mostly played the sport solo, my favorite experience with it got here from co-op. It’s the moment where the sport felt probably the most delightfully chaotic as my puzzle buddy and I bounced around a room shouting clues at each other and trading notes. It joins the pantheon of top-tier “couples games” right next to It Takes Two.

Every little design detail stands out with two players. The flexibility to pin a clue to the screen works especially well in a split-screen setting where one player can delay a note while the opposite solves a puzzle. There’s normally not less than two tasks that will be accomplished at any given time in a level, which lets players divide and conquer without straying too removed from one another. The more straightforward puzzle design also makes it a wonderful option for folks trying to play something with their kid.

Players solve a puzzle in Escape Academy co-op mode.

While Escape Academy can’t quite capture every nuance of the escape room experience, it nails the social component. It’s a game that’s best enjoyed as a bonding exercise. It’s an excuse to ask a friend over and chat after, very similar to an escape room night out inevitably ends in a bar. The short and sweet nature of it makes it an ideal complement to a social hangout session.

Just don’t play it solo first or else you risk becoming the obnoxious friend who keeps impatiently rushing your pal through puzzles.

Our take

Escape Academy is an endearing puzzle game that just desires to share the unique pleasure of escape rooms with everyone. Each well-designed level brings a set of clever logic puzzles which are all the time satisfying to resolve, especially with a pal. It has a harder time bringing players a meaningful sense of failure, because the meaningless deadlines suck the strain out of the room. Despite its struggles to nail down the energy of real-world escape rooms, it’s one of the fun ways you may spend a Saturday gaming night this summer.

Is there a greater alternative?

The Room series delivers incredibly strong puzzle box gameplay. If you happen to’re in search of an extended, more involved co-op puzzle game, It Takes Two is the highest of its class.

How long will it last?

It took me lower than three hours to finish the sport, though I’d done a couple of rooms previously during demos. Even so, playthroughs will top out around 4 hours with no incentive for replays.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes. Even when it’s short and imperfect, I had an exquisite time solving every room. Grab a friend and make an evening out of it.

Escape Academy was tested on PC and Steam Deck.

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