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Space Box

This 3D wooden ‘escape box’ has ciphers and tasks that feel reminiscent of those you might find in an escape room. And that’s because the publisher, EscapeWelt, got their start as creators of escape rooms. But when the pandemic turned the world upside down and forced them to close their rooms, they got to work creating portable puzzle experiences.

Space Box is one of their best-selling products, which was sent to us for review. These puzzle boxes are wooden, laser-cut and hand-assembled puzzles with lots of markings and symbols etched onto all sides. The moment you take it out of the packaging, your brain gets into gear trying to figure out what it all means. There is a surprise object hidden inside, but you must go through many steps to get to it.

Without spoiling the puzzles, it is safe to say that there are a variety of challenges, both mental puzzles and dexterity challenges, included with this box. You will find sliders, dials, numbers, letters, ciphers, and switches everywhere. After you solve each puzzle, something new will be revealed or a piece that was previously locked will be unlocked.

The game also comes with a brief story to explain the theme of the box. This sets the stage for the puzzle, but really the story doesn’t have any further purpose in the puzzle experience.

Space Box components

Review

As an escape room enthusiast who has completed 58 rooms so far, I was intrigued by this concept. I also love mobile puzzle games like The Room and The Birdcage. Space Box and other puzzles from EscapeWelt remind me of these games but in actual physical form.

There is a lot that I enjoy about Space Box. First, there is a lot of great variety packed into this box, including some neat surprises along the way. The physical look of the puzzle is eye-catching — I plan to put it on display in my game room. It would also look great on a desk or coffee table. The wooden pieces seem pretty sturdy, and nothing was broken or damaged while trying to open it. The laser-etched markings on the wood are also fairly easy to read. (By contrast, we had many broken pieces and difficulties with similar puzzles made out of plexiglass.)

Diving into this puzzle can seem a bit daunting at first. Initially, you see a lot of markings and pieces, with really no idea where to start. By studying it out and playing with it for a while, you begin to make some progress. However, solving the whole puzzle on your own would be very difficult — I found myself stuck many times. Fortunately, the company provides a website that outlines the steps to solve it, along with hints and solutions.

Space Box components

On the downside, I found that many of the pieces were difficult to move or slide and some were a bit finicky. For instance, the sliders often need to be placed exactly right for other pieces to budge. There is a lot of friction with the wooden pieces (which are not particularly smooth or polished), and there are times you need to be a bit forceful. One small piece, in particular, I found very difficult to remove — it felt like it was slightly too thick for the hole it was placed in. There are a lot of intricate pieces that are possible to break if you’re not careful, so if you need to use a bit of force, make sure you have checked your solution first to make sure you’re not pulling on the wrong thing.

With these wooden puzzle boxes, you won’t find perfectly functional puzzles like you would in a digital game like The Room. Even so, this puzzle box offers a unique physical experience that will leave you wanting to collect more — and doubles as a great conversation piece.

Pros: Nice variety of puzzles, relatively sturdy, fun surprises, eye-catching conversation piece

Cons: Some pieces are finicky or difficult to move, a bit of force may be required