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Escape: The Curse of the Temple

Communication, cooperation, speed, and a little bit of luck, is what you’ll need to escape the cursed temple alive.

Players work together, rolling dice as fast as possible as they attempt to beat the clock and make it out alive!

Gameplay

Each player puts their pawn on the starting tile, two chamber tiles are placed on either side of that tile, and the remaining room tiles are shuffled (with the exit tile being shuffled into the bottom five tiles) to create the draw pile. Each player then takes five dice. Next, you place a number of gems (the number varies based on player count) into the gem deposit. Finally, you turn on the ten minute soundtrack on the game's CD and the game starts. In order to win the game, all players must exit the temple via the exit tile before the soundtrack ends.

Players all take their turns simultaneously and there are no rounds. You must roll your dice and take actions as quickly as possible. As you roll, you may set aside dice to save, before rerolling the others. Once you use a die's result to perform an action, however, you must reroll it. Dice can roll adventurer icons, key and touch icons, black masks, and golden masks.

When on a tile with open doorways, you must roll two adventurers in order to draw a room tile and place it, connecting it to the open doorway. Each tile shows what results you must roll in order to move your pawn onto it.

Room tiles may also show either one gem icon or three separate gem icons, along with what you must roll and how many you must roll in order to activate the gems. You may only activate gems in a single room one time. A single player can roll enough dice to activate a one gem icon, but multiple players will need to be in the room and roll together in order to activate the two or three gem icons. Once gems have been activated, you take the correct number of gems from the gem deposit and place them on the room tile.

When you roll a black mask, you cannot reroll that die and must set it aside. Rolling a golden mask allows you to reroll two black masks, or (if you are in the room with another player) allows another player to reroll two of their black mask dice. If players feel they have too many dice locked into black masks, they can collectively decide to add an extra gem to the gem deposit and reroll all their black masks.

Twice during the game the CD will sound a gong followed shortly by the sound of a door slamming. Players must race to the start tile before the door slam sound effect. Anyone who does not make it in time loses one die for the rest of the game.

Once the exit tile is found, in order to escape, you must roll a number of key icons equal to the number of gems still in the gem deposit plus one. You must make this roll on your own; another player may not help you. Once you escape, you may give one of your dice to another player.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple Components

Review

Escape: The Curse of the Temple has good frantic, real time gameplay. Players must work together but there is also motivation to split up and discover the temple as quickly as possible since you need to find that exit tile in under ten minutes. You need to be able to communicate efficiently while also focusing on your own actions and making snap decisions.

There are multiple moments of tense gameplay, not just when the CD nears its end but also the moments when players have to race back to the start tile. You always have to stay on the alert for those gong sounds, and be ready to move. The game does come with two variations on the soundtrack, though it would be nice if there were a few more to add variety and prevent players from becoming too familiar with the timing of the gongs.

The rules are quite easy to learn, and since the gameplay is so short, you can easily go several rounds, which makes it a good filler game, or a game you’ll keep wanting to try ‘just one more time’ until you manage to make that escape.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing availability for this game is quite low, so you'll have to pay a premium to pick up a copy. Hopefully there will be more print runs in the future that will bring the price down.

If you enjoy real time games, Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a great member of the genre. Fast and frantic, it’s got a great theme, solid components, and some extremely tense gameplay!

Pros: Simple rules, fun theme, tense soundtrack, good balance between cooperation and making your own decisions

Cons: Currently expensive to acquire a copy, only two soundtracks to play with