Game Length: 10 minutes per game
Best enjoyed: With 3-5 intrepid explorers who can stay calm under pressure
Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a co-operative real-time game where players take the role of explorers trying to find their way out of a temple. The clock is ticking, however, and there are only 10 real-time minutes in which to perform all the tasks required to open the temple before the exit closes forever, dooming the explorers to starvation in the Olmec catacombs.
Players may take actions in the game as quickly as they can, by rolling and re-rolling their five dice until they get the desired result. They will want to roll a range of different symbols to perform the required tasks, which are clearly marked on the game tiles. The quicker players are able to roll their dice and take actions, the more they will be able to accomplish and the greater their chance of success. However, one result on the dice – the Cursed Mask – locks a die, so that it may not be re-rolled. Players will need to roll a Golden Mask to unlock their cursed dice, and if all their dice are locked, they’ll need a friend to come to them!
Escape encourages quick thinking and communication. In order to win, players will need to place gems on certain areas by rolling the right symbols, and players are able to team up and potentially place more gems at once. There is the ever-present threat of rolling poorly and getting stuck, so players will need to work together if they want to make sure everyone is making the most of their dice. What’s more, at two points during the game, the players will need to make their way back to the centre tile, or lose one of their dice for the rest of the game!
Naturally, Escape is a frantic game and not suited to everybody. If you don’t fancy the constant clattering of dice and being pushed to take your actions quickly, this game will not be for you. It is also important for all players to understand the rules fully before they start playing, as there won’t be time for rule clarifications while you’re on the clock. Fortunately, the rules are quite simple and games are short enough that even if the first try is a wash, you’ll have time for another one.
Playing Escape is a unique experience, and there are few things quite like getting yourself stuck at the far end of the temple while your friends race to help you out, or everyone working together to roll enough torches to place three gems at once on a tile. The audio CD is perfect for the game and provides a sense of urgency without being overbearing – the track is also available online if you want to stick it on your phone. If you fancy the idea of a light but tense co-operative game that engages all players simultaneously, Escape comes highly recommended.