After a long summer holiday of space exploration, you are about to return to Earth. Suddenly, however, your space station is hit by an asteroid, changing your course right towards a meteor belt. You have to break the code to the escape pods!
Setup And Gameplay
Escape From The Space Station consists of 12 puzzles divided across 10 cards, 3 small leaflets, and 2 perforated sheets, and a sealed sheet with the solutions to each puzzle.
After reading the opening narrative, all game materials are made available to the players.
The solution to each puzzle reveals the translation of one or more letters in the “Universal Alphabet”, which is what the code to access the escape pods is written in. Once you have cracked this code, you will find out how to finally escape and win the game.
The majority of the puzzles in Escape from the Space Station come in the shape of word and number games, such as picrosses, letter scrambles, number pyramids, and ciphers. Most fit entirely on one card and we only used the leaflets to show the respective Universal Alphabet letter.
These puzzles did not feel very unique to the game but some of them did come with a little in-universe justification or were at least themed. For example, the crossword was all space words.
A couple of the puzzles needed both a card and a page of the leaflets to be solved (or two pages of the leaflets and no cards) and these felt both more immersive and a little more challenging.
The play experience was different to a lot of other escape room games I have played in that working together was very hard. Because the cards were so small and the puzzles quite simple, it was difficult for more than one person to meaningfully contribute at a time. As such, we just divided the puzzles between us, every so often asked if someone had seen a needed section of a leaflet, and reconvened once we had all the letters. This also means that unless you play on your own, you won’t necessarily get to “see” the full escape room.
As you may have guessed, I and my two seasoned escape room gamer friends did not find Escape from the Space Station particularly challenging, nor did it feel like a particularly unified or team work-y experience.
I did not, however, dislike the game or the puzzles. Even if I wasn’t challenged, I still had fun, and I think the game could really shine with a different group of players.
I kept thinking while playing that the puzzles were similar to the kind of word and number games I would sometimes have done in school and that they would be really well suited for a space themed scavenger hunt for school kids.
All the puzzle cards are made from thick, durable cardboard printed in bright colours. My one criticism of them would be that the smooth finish makes them hard to write on, which a lot of the puzzles require.
The leaflets and perforated sheets contain a lot of the lore for the space station and therefore carry a lot of the theming. These, too, are printed in bright and clear colours with the kind of fonts and layout you might expect from the sci-fi genre.
Because all components are in play immediately and a lot of them look similar, it can be a bit overwhelming and hard to find the specific parts you’re looking for, if you haven’t divided out the puzzles between you.
If you like the sound of Escape from the Space Station, you will probably also like Escape from the Museum. The level and type of puzzles are very similar but instead of a space station setting, you have been locked inside a museum.
If you want something a bit more challenging and have already exhausted the big escape room game series like Unlock! and EXIT: The Game, I recommend Danger in the Deep and Curse of the Dark, both from the same publisher as Escape from the Space Station. In the former, your goal is to escape from a nuclear submarine, in the latter, the setting is a spooky mansion. As both are longer games than Escape from the Space Station, there is more space for narrative and branching puzzles.
And finally, if you were looking for an escape room style game for children but either have already played Escape from the Space Station or were looking for something slightly different, I have some recommendations for that as well. If you want something that is more challenging and also has a story, you should try Unlock! Kids. If, on the other hand, you want something simpler for younger kids, check out Exit: Kids - Jungle of Riddles. These two options also have the benefit of containing multiple games and being playable multiple times, respectively.
Escape from the Space Station is a simple but fun collection of puzzles and thematic components that I think would be great as part of a space themed scavenger hunt for children. However, experienced escape room gamers might look elsewhere for a more substantial challenge.