If you are unfamiliar with SCRAP, they are a great escape game company and claim to have pioneered the industry. I am not sure if that is true, but they were definitely the first I personally had heard of. My first game, The Crazy Last Will of Dr. Mad, was an excellent introduction to escape games. Since then, I have played more of SCRAP’s games than any other company’s. They keep things interesting by having three different formats of games:
- “Escape Room” — Your team is anywhere from four to twelve players. The team books exclusive access to a room for a specific time slot. You tear it apart looking for clues to solve puzzles and “win” by finding the key to physically get yourselves out of the room.
- “Escape Game” — Your team is always six players. The team gets one table in a large conference room, with anywhere from twenty to thirty other teams also playing at the same time. Each team gets a duplicate copy of the puzzles and simultaneously tries to solve them. Technically every team can “win” by putting down the correct “final answer” on your answer sheet.
- “Escape Park” — Your team can be any number of players. The team runs around a large open area such as a city neighborhood or sports stadium. Each team gets a duplicate copy of the puzzles and simultaneously tries to solve them. Technically every team can “win” by putting down the correct “final answer” on your answer sheet.
(My names, not theirs.) These different formats allow SCRAP to put unique twists on their games as well as roll out new games much more often than competing companies that only do “traditional” escape rooms.
Escape from the Jail
SCRAP’s most recent offering was Escape from the Jail, which is in the “escape room” format. The game is still currently running, so I do not want to give away too much. Obviously, the theme is a prison setting. The story is that we were falsely accused of a crime and have to escape before we are executed. SCRAP’s observers were described to us as ghosts of past prisoners; I appreciate that they always have an explanation of why staff is in the room with you.
Besides the usual safety rules (no running, do not touch things marked as not part of the game, etc.), there were a couple of new wrinkles. First, our team was split in two, and locked into adjoining cells with a solid wall in between. One staff member role-played a prison guard rather than just a silent observer. He enforced the prison-specific rules, including no talking between cells! If you have played any escape games before, you know how vital communication with team members is, so this limitation made the game very interesting.
The puzzle format was very similar to previous SCRAP games — you solve smaller puzzles throughout the room and they feed into a “master puzzle” crossword that you have to reference over and over. As usual, the puzzles are well designed and fairly difficult, but can be solved purely through skill and without need of outside knowledge.
It is hard to hold this against SCRAP, since it is not really their style to have any physical challenges, thought I would like to see more of this type of thing from their escape room scenarios. I think the most difficult thing we had to do was use hand tools to take apart a locked box.
My group of escape artists knows most of the SCRAP staff by name, but they have been hiring more and more lately. The staffers are this particular game were all new to us, but they were well trained, and the guard was outstanding.
SCRAP games are always fun to me because their puzzle design is great brinksmanship — we are always around the final puzzle when time is up! The other important factor to me is involvement — there needs to be enough material for every team member to be working on something at a given time. SCRAP usually nails this because of their tendency to reuse puzzle pieces. Even if there are not enough new puzzles for members to work on, someone can and should be reviewing previous puzzles to see if they can be applied.
Overall, it was a great game. And true to team tradition, we failed with final key in hand, racing for the exit door!