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MacGyver: The Escape Room Game

Have you ever wanted to be like MacGyver? You could accomplish almost anything with just some duct tape and a paper clip. Fortunately, you can be MacGyver in this new escape room game by Pressman Toy.

MacGyver: The Escape Room Game offers a blast from the past for fans of this popular 1980s action series — but even if you've never heard of the show, there's plenty of fun puzzle solving to be had. No inside knowledge is required to play.

Gameplay

This game contains 5 separate scenarios that last around 1 hour each (Underground Lab, Airplane, Factory, Missile Silo, and Grand Finale). Each scenario contains a crisis that MacGyver must solve, and is intended to be played only once (some components may be cut, folded, or otherwise changed during play). They also must be played in order, as some components found in earlier scenarios will be needed for later ones.

There is very little setup time — to start the game, simply open the envelope for the desired scenario and read the introduction. You will also need a mobile device with access to the website MacGyverGame.com, which serves as a both a timer and solution checker. Different levels of difficulty can be selected, depending on the experience level of the players. Use of the website is required in order to play this game.

Each envelope contains a folded scenario packet as well as several smaller envelopes that will be opened during the course of the game. The folded packet shows a list of tasks that must be completed in order to win the game. There are also several seals holding together various folds of the packet — these will be removed as instructed by the website (usually after a puzzle is successfully completed).

The game progresses by revealing new puzzles to solve, as well as tools and information required to solve these puzzles. If all of the tasks are completed before the time expires, the players have solved the crisis and won the game. Otherwise, they all lose.

MacGyver: The Escape Room Game components

Review

The escape room genre is one that we highly enjoy — the thrill of solving puzzles as a team can be very rewarding, though not quite as immersive as an actual escape room. Similar series include Escape Room: The Game, Deckscape, the Exit series, Unlock, Escape the Room, and more. MacGyver is the first licensed game of the bunch, and of course it offers a fitting theme. Any fan of the show is familiar with the sticky situations (and even locked rooms) that MacGyver was able get out of using pure ingenuity. The missions in this game resemble those that might have been presented to MacGyver by the Phoenix Foundation.

The puzzles in this game are varied, ranging from spatial puzzles to math problems (third grade level math skills are required). Each puzzle progresses the mission narrative, sometimes offering new items along the way that will be used in future puzzles. The artwork and components are solid, with the main packet unfolding into various rooms and situations that are visually represented. We found the puzzles to be challenging, but solveable. They were interesting and didn't just re-hash the puzzles found in other escape room games.

Pressman Toy has done a great job of making an escape room game that is accessible to nearly anyone, with no prior experience needed. There is no rulebook to read or mechanics to figure out prior to playing (which is not the case with several of its competitors). Just read a few short introductory paragraphs, and then you are solving your first puzzle. The use of the website as opposed to a standalone device or code cipher tool means that the solutions to the puzzles can be as varied as the puzzles themselves. Rather than coming up with a 4 digit code/pattern or using a code wheel, players enter their answers online — from passwords to spatial puzzle solutions and even multiple choice answers (e.g., which puzzle piece doesn't fit). This offers a very open and rewarding system — just don't get it wrong, or you'll lose time!

Another feature that makes this game beginner-friendly is the linear nature of the puzzles in the folded scenario packet. One puzzle is completed before the next seal is broken and another puzzle is revealed. This reduces the complexity of including multiple simultaneous puzzles, or extra information that won't be used until later — but it also reduces the number of players that can effectively take part in the game. While several other escape room games can support up to 6 players, this one really should only be played with only 1 to 2 players (even 3 felt like too many). If more players are involved, some will not be engaged in the game. The artwork and puzzles are small and only a couple of people can work on them at once.

Another downside to this game is that each scenario can only be played once (similar to the Exit series). Escape Room: The Game also contains components that are written on or mutilated, but the publisher offers printable replacements and instructions for packing the envelope so another group can play. In this game, some scenarios could easily be packed up again, but there are no instructions for making sure this is done properly.

If you're looking for a beginner-level escape room game for couples or as a solo experience, MacGyver is an excellent choice. If you're also a fan of the show, you might appreciate the thematic elements of the game and the puzzle narrative. However, if you're looking for a deeper challenge for a larger group, the Exit series or Escape Room: The Game would be a better fit. In our case, we love playing every escape room game that we can get our hands on, and we found this one to be worthwhile.

Pros: Beginner-friendly, varied puzzles with many types of solutions, minimal learning curve and setup time

Cons: Not ideal for groups of more than 2 players, can only be played once

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.