The 10 Best Escape Room Board Games

Introduction to Board Game Escape Rooms

Escape rooms as a concept stem from text-based computer games, so it is no surprise that the escape room board game (or tabletop escape room) market is thriving. These games are great for when you need a cozy home fix, want the escape experience without the time pressure, or just don’t feel like an outing to Reason in San Francisco. They are perfect for a night in with friends or family, and they offer a challenging and engaging way to spend time together. Additionally, like in-person escape rooms, escape room board games come in a variety of themes, such as mystery, adventure, horror, or fantasy, so there is something for everyone. They can be a great way to test your problem-solving skills and have fun at the same time.

Overall, escape room board games are a fantastic way to bring the thrill of an escape room into your own living room, and they provide hours of entertainment for any group of players. Grab your group of friends and a countdown timer, and check out the list below of the best escape room board games on the market today.

1. Unlock!

Overview of the games

The Unlock! game series is a unique blend of board game and escape room experience, where players work together to solve puzzles and discover new rooms within a scenario. The series is created by Space Cowboys, the company behind the addictive game Splendor as well as many other hits. They have a wide variety of themes and have  both long format and short format game types as well as sell the games both individually and in bundles of 3. They have also partnered with several other board game companies to create themes around popular games like Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. Games are built to run about 60 minutes, for ages 10 and up, and for 1 to 6 players max. 

The games are primarily card-based with some additional puzzle pieces like a game map. They also use a companion app to provide a timer and clues, enhancing the experience. 

Overall, the Unlock! series offers a thrilling and engaging gameplay experience for players of all levels. It’s a perfect choice for family gatherings and fun with friends. With its blend of storytelling, puzzles, and cooperative gameplay, the Unlock! series is a must-have for any board game enthusiast. 

What makes it one of the best

With the variety of themes and game types available, there is something for everyone in the Unlock! series. Whether you enjoy mystery, horror, adventure, or science fiction, there is a game that will capture your interest. The long format games provide a more in-depth experience, with interconnected puzzles and a longer playtime, while the short format games offer a quick, one-hour gameplay experience. The decoder app is well designed (though you may want to use a larger tablet over a phone) and allows the game to stay fairly compact for travel while also providing additional interactivity.

2. Exit: The Game

Overview of the games

The Exit games are one of the longer-lived escape room series. Whether you want to escape from the haunted mansion or secret lab, with over 30 games available, they have the theme you are craving. However, their most popular games are Dead Man on the Orient Express and The Abandoned Cabin. Each game comes with a “room” plus cypher dial along with a set of puzzles you need to complete to escape. Although the escape rooms have an overarching plot, you do not need to play them in order. Most of the games are made with an older audience in mind (ages 16 and up) but they have games for ages as young as 5! Games are usually built for 1 to 4 players and game times range from 20 minutes to 3 to 4 hours. 

 Exit offers a different experience compared to traditional escape rooms, as their games are portable and can be played anywhere. This makes them perfect for travel or vacations. The variety of themes also ensures that there is something for everyone, whether you prefer a spooky mystery, a thrilling adventure, or a mind-bending puzzle. Additionally, the puzzles are designed to be challenging but fair, providing a satisfying experience for both beginners and experienced escape room enthusiasts.

Overall, Exit provides a unique and enjoyable escape room experience that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home or while on the go. With their high-quality components and diverse range of themes, Exit has solidified its reputation as a leader in the escape room industry. 

What makes it one of the best

In addition to being one of the leaders in the industry, the Exit series does an excellent job breaking down and categorizing their games, which means that you will easily be able to find a great option no matter who you are. On the back of each game, you will find play times, age ranges, level of difficulty, and recommended player counts. They are also one of the few (or only?) companies making games for young children with their Jungle of Riddles game not only being rated for kids 5 to 7, but you can replay the game with different outcomes, which most escape room games are not designed to do.

3. Escape the Room

Overview of the games

The Escape the Room series of escape room games by ThinkFun is a smaller collection with four games to date. Each one is well crafted and built with party hosting in mind, but the most popular games are Stargazer’s Manor or The Cursed Dollhouse. The Cursed Dollhouse is one of my favorite games because you actually need to build a dollhouse to play, and it is much more creepy than your average escape room game. 

The series is meant to be part game and part hosted party, which reminds me of the old murder mystery in a box party games from the 70s and 80s.  The games are designed to be challenging and engaging, with a mix of logic puzzles, and physical components to manipulate. They are perfect for small gatherings or game nights, and they provide a unique and immersive escape experience for players.

Overall, the Escape the Room series is a fun and creative addition to the escape room game genre. Whether you’re a fan of puzzles, board games, or hosting parties, these games are sure to provide hours of entertainment and engaging gameplay. 

What makes it one of the best

ThinkFun is heavily focused on games for education and it shows in their games for both kids and adults. You can find a wide variety digital assets such as music and invitations to help immerse yourself and your guests. The games are also made for an older audience and have more of an immersive quality than the average escape room board game. 

4. Escape Room in a Box

Overview of the games

Produced by Mattel, the Escape Room in a Box series is best known for its The Werewolf Experiment game, which challenges players to  unravel the mystery of a werewolf outbreak. It also has The Walking Dead variant, which takes players into the thrilling world of the popular TV show, and two Time Drifters, which can actually be combined into a third game. Each game in the series is designed for 2 to 8 players–ages 13 and older–and includes a variety of puzzles, riddles, and challenges that must be completed within a set time limit. The games also come with a backstory and a narrative to add to the experience. 

The Escape Room in a Box series is perfect for parties, game nights, or simply as a way to challenge yourself and your friends. With its popularity and positive reviews, it’s no wonder that the series continues to be a hit among gamers. If you’re looking for a unique and exciting gaming experience, be sure to check out the Escape Room in a Box series. 

What makes it one of the best

The games contain well made and interesting game pieces and puzzles in addition to the standard paper-based game components. This includes locked boxes, components hidden within the game box, and other more novel 3D pieces, which are great for the more kinesthetic player. The hint mechanism is also more robust than some other options on the market. 

5. Deckscape

Overview of the games

The Deckscape series is one of the larger escape room collections again with 11 games in the series. Most of the games are built for 1 to 8 players, ages 12 and up, and intended for about 60 minutes of game play. If you missed the hint in the name, this series is an escape room card game, so it highly portable as well as being fun to play and all you need a moderately sized flat surface to lay your pieces out on.

The games in the series–as is almost always the case–are all designed to be played once, as the deck walks you though the series of puzzles, and solutions are revealed throughout the game. Each game has its own unique theme and story, such as being trapped in a space station, trying to escape from a desert island, or solving a mystery in a time travel adventure (Test Time is the most popular in the series). The puzzles range from logic and deduction to code-breaking and observation, offering a wide variety of challenges to solve.

What makes it one of the best

Descape’s portability is its best asset: it is very easy to move and play while the puzzles themselves are still challenging. dV Games, the creators of the wildly popular Bang! series as well as Dark Tales has also made some very entertaining choices in their games’ art styles. Overall, this series makes for great trips and conversation. 

6. Escape Room: The Game

Overview of the games

Escape Room The Game by Spin Master may not have the most interesting name on this list but they do have some very interesting components, including game expansion packs. They are also some of the physically largest games on this list primarily because each box comes with more than one escape room in it. The components are made out of good stock and the “chrono decoder” allows for multiple games. Each game also incorporates a companion app. You need to solve their games in 1 hour, the number of players either runs 3 to 6 players or 2 players, and ages are for teens and up, but they also have a family series for younger players. 

The expansion packs offer new scenarios and challenges, ensuring that the game stays fresh and engaging even after multiple play-throughs. They also have a puzzle adventure series where players must solve jigsaw puzzles to escape, which is a unique take on the genre.

What makes it one of the best

This series offers replay-ability that many of its competitors cannot and is especially detailed. The puzzle adventure series is especially great for puzzlers or kinesthetic players and the artwork is well done. Overall, this is a well-done series of games with a lot of thought and heart put in to their creations.

7. Mystery House: Adventures in a Box

Overview of the games

The creators behind Mystery House also happen to be the creators behind the strategy game Barrage, so it’s no wonder that Mystery House is both complex and contains some gorgeous art. Though much smaller than some of the other series, the Mystery House game set started as a single, large game with two stories and now has 3 expansions. Each game hosts 1 to 5 players, is between 1 to 2 hours, and is meant for ages 12 and up. The main game contains a 3D setup to really bring you into the experience, and the expansions play off of this 3D house as well. If you really enjoy paper crafting tiny dioramas, this game and its expansions will be up your alley.

In Mystery House, players take on the role of explorers and must work together to uncover the secrets hidden within the mysterious mansion. The game is a mix of strategy, deduction, and design, making it a unique and engaging experience for escape room gamers. 

What makes it one of the best

Overall, Mystery House is a game that offers an engaging and challenging experience for players who enjoy unique game mechanics and exploration. The game’s art and design are also truly stunning, with detailed and immersive 3D components that bring the game to life. This is a great game for those who enjoy fiddly games, attention to details, or are just nosy parkers who want to peek through a window in a creaky old manor. 

8. Escape Tales

Overview of the games

Escape Tales is a story-driven and challenging series of games that bring puzzle-solving to a whole new level. Like in most escape rooms games, players are thrust into captivating storylines where they must crack codes, solve clues, and make difficult decisions in order to progress through the game. However! Unlike most escape room games, these puzzles are meant to last hours, do not hold you to a time limit, and are meant to be replayable. Their shortest is estimated to take 3 hours to complete while their puzzle book (though slightly tangental to the theme of this post), The Book of Rituals, claims to take 30 hours or more to complete. The games are meant for 1 to 4 players and their age ranges are again on the older side at between 16 to 18 or older. The card-based games are connected to an app that will help decipher the clues as well as story books that provide color as well as multiple endings. 

What makes it one of the best

The combination of tale weaving and intricate puzzle-solving makes this series a hit among gamers who enjoy heroic adventures and mental challenges. With each game’s round offering a different setting and narrative, players are constantly facing new and exciting challenges that require them to think outside the box and use their wits to overcome obstacles. 

9. Coded Chronicles

Overview of the games

Okay, they caught us with the nostalgia on this one via Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion, but the game is pretty good, and unlike physical escape rooms, you can solve the mystery with your own Scoobs at home. The Coded Chronicles games series is also unique in that these games all incorporate a different favorite franchise such as The Goonies and The Shining. Only Scooby-Doo is still in print, and we are focusing on this one. The game is another card-based game where you lay everything out and then turn over what is needed. It also has some cute standees for people to play as their favorite characters. The game contains 2 stories within it and is meant for (technically) unlimited players 12 and up with about 1 to 2 hours per game play time. 

What makes it one of the best

Again, this is a great nostalgia play and for those looking to solve riddles in a more goofy, light-hearted game. The components are good quality and are very portable with everything organized into secret envelopes ready when needed. 

10. Clue Escape

Overview of the games

Hasbro has taken advantage of the success of Clue by introducing the Clue Escape series, which is based on the traditional detective game and adds a fresh take on the original idea. There are currently 5 games in the series. The game includes a number of the original characters such as Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet but has a few new faces as well as some twists on the original (congratulations to Mrs. Peacock for going back to school and getting her JD). The games are about 90 minutes in length, and are built for 1 to 6 players, ages 10 and up. Like most of these games, they are one-time play throughs. 

What makes it one of the best

This is not just a nostalgia play. These games have some great plot twists. They are fairly compact and do run towards the younger side, so good for families. 

Board Games Conclusion

The escape room board game genre has become increasingly popular and it’s easy to see why. The thrill of solving puzzles and finding clues within a limited time frame adds an exciting element to the traditional board game experience while the appeal of at-home entertainment is hard to pass up. The best games, like those above, offer engaging and challenging scenarios for players to work together and escape before the countdown ends.

After taking a look at this list, if you find that you would just like to have more interactivity without the extra work of GMing, we recommend checking out Reason’s hosted virtual escape rooms or our blog on the best Nintendo Switch escape rooms. We hope you enjoy the best escape room games the market has to offer!