I enjoy puzzles and challenges and this game definitely made me think.
Publisher: Pressman Toy Corp.
Designer: Rebecca Bleau, Nicholas Cravotta
Game Type: Cooperative, Real-time, puzzle, Escape Room
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Age Range: 12+
Expected Playtime: 60
Number of Players: 1-4
Theme and What is it?
The Macgyver Escape Room Game is exactly what it claims to be. It is one of the many escape room in a box games that have hit the market recently. Its main distinguishing feature is that it is all about the challenged Angus Macgyver himself has to tackle with the players assistance. The theme shows up in the mission parameters, a few specific references to the TV show, and when the the murderous Murdoc shows up to try to ruin everything.
Note that this game cannot be played without a computer. A tablet or phone device doesn’t cut it. You will need an actual computer available at the game space.
The Macgyver Escape Room Game has a series of puzzles and challenges players must overcome to advance to the next puzzle. Some puzzles feature mirror images, physical challenges, 3rd grade math problems, paper folding, tetris like pattern stacking, and gear system experimentation. There are a variety of challenges included but most seem targeted for an audience that isn’t looking for a serious thinking challenge.
I was really excited that there were 5 full hour long escape rooms in the same box instead of just a single hour of play expected. Several had familiar names that brought to mind specific Macgyver episodes. Each mission packet contained a series of envelopes or main fold out puzzle book that the computer tells you when to open and use things.
The mix of technology with the physical game is a two edged sword. It is really cool to see technology assist with a game but a bit disappointing that the technology is limited to a website from a computer rather than a mobile compatible app. It does allow for some good hints that would be difficult in physical hint envelopes or cards.
Game Build Quality
Pressman did a great job on build quality. There are some really nice parts to this game that are unusual. There are punch out cardstock components that are a little wimpy but work just fine as they have a single puzzle of purpose. Many of the more interesting physical puzzles have nicely put together sealed floppy drives, mailed envelopes, physical gear cogs, and a few surprises to remain nameless. A game like this has so many unique pieces and some of which need to be very precisely produced and assembled to function. Given the physical nature of the challenges it is very impressive from a build quality standpoint.
The art is dedicated to being part of the puzzles. They include things like pieces of furniture in the images, laser grids that seem like a maze, scenery from a plane going out of control from the cockpit view, etc. There are also a healthy number of images featuring Macgyver himself doing a variety of actions during the storyline. Nothing particularly surprising about seeing images of Macgyver in this game!
I enjoy puzzles and challenges and this game definitely made me think. A few times were instantly clear what I was attempting to do so it happened easily and quickly. Others were just a matter of not understanding the instructions until I used a hint on the computer to get a starting point to work with. And a few excellent parts were clear in the instructions but took me more than 10 minutes to actually put everything together into a solution.
In the end, I wish that more of the coolest puzzles had more input required from the players than just following through with an activity to get to the solution. It was less than perfectly satisfying when any player could have done the exact same thing at the same speed and got the same result. That said, those puzzles are likely great when playing with a younger team member who can do the solving while the adults record the results.
Age Range & Weight
12+ might be a recommendation for one of the players involved but really 3rd grade math level is the only thing that needed a higher age. It could be a potential point of frustration where a younger player could see a way to destroy the components to get to a solution rather than getting there the way you were intended to. Also some components do actually need to be destroyed and players may be hesitant to do so.
A few tips for those tackling this game: If you are unsure what to do when you are starting a puzzle don’t be afraid to use a hint. Those first hints just try to make sure you understand what is going on. The later hints actually start to give real information and any true spoilers give you an additional warning before being revealed.
Make sure when you are on the computer you attempt to scroll down on each page before proceeding. A few of them had buttons that need to be pressed in the right order and the normal view window was not showing them all without scrolling down. It didn’t jump out at me that scrolling was an option as the answer input box stays in the same location as you scroll information above it.
And a final helpful hint: each time you open an envelope, do a visual inspection of the inside to make sure there are no small pieces wedged into a corner that didn’t come out. At least once I was really confused because I was missing that all important paperclip Macgyver always has handy… It was in the envelope, it just got wedged in so that I thought I had got everything but had missed one bit.
Don’t get this game expecting wave after wave of Macgyver nostalgia. There are some clear references to the show and I particularly enjoyed that a bar of chocolate from a vending machine once again saved the underground lab. We didn’t even use duct tape anywhere during the game! A true travesty.
Also don’t get your most intelligent friends over to see how well they can do. The difficulty definitely swings towards a younger or more casual audience. The ideal group size for this game is two.