Let’s just get right into the spirit of things!
For fans of the show and fans of Escape Rooms alike, MacGyver: The Escape Room Game will put you to the test with 5 separate scenarios to work through. Will you escape? Will you survive? Will you match wits with MacGyver? Will you grow a mullet?
Only one way to find out.
A Paper Clip and a Stick of Chewing Gum
As this is an Escape Room game, I’m going to go ahead and skip right over the “How to Play” section, given that there aren’t a ton of consistent rules to go over, and explaining any particular puzzle would be rather spoilery. So let’s just talk about what makes MacGyver: The Escape Room Game unique, and find out if it’s for you.
The box comes with 5 scenarios, and while in some ways the scenarios are built off each other – parts and tools you acquire in earlier scenarios will be used in later ones – there’s not an overarching storyline or clues that carry from one challenge to the next. So, you will need to play the scenarios in order, but it doesn’t preclude any individual players from jumping in at any point.
The challenges do scale up in difficulty. In fact, the first few were so easy we breezed through them in 30-40 minutes; that isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves, though. Bear in mind, we have a lot of experience with Escape Room type games, so many of the puzzles were immediately familiar and we didn’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out WHAT to do – we just had to do it to find the solution. For any players who are new to this style of game, you get a nice introduction without being overwhelmed by difficulty. Ease your way in!
If you are in it for the challenge, I’ll mention that the 4th and 5th scenarios had some very difficult puzzles that had us scratching our heads for a while. A puzzle in scenario 4 could’ve used an extra clue within the game, at least in my opinion, but it wasn’t unsolvable. The 5th scenario had one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced in an escape room. We had to use several hints – and, unfortunately, the images within the hints were broken, which added some frustration. After contacting the publisher I did get to see images of the solution, and was told the hint system was being fixed. Ultimately the puzzle seemed fair – we just couldn’t get our brains on the right track that round.
While some escape room games include physical tools for checking the answers (like EXIT or Escape Room: The Game) and others utilize an app (Unlock), MacGyver ERG utilizes a website to input your answers. This is slightly clumsier than an app and less consistent than the EXIT dials, but it does have the advantage of working on pretty much any device that can access the internet and a web browser. Overall the website worked just fine, with a few minor glitches that didn’t break the game. The hint system was a little rough, with a few images not loading correctly (as mentioned above). Hopefully those issues are already fixed.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the website is that it allows a wide variety of inputs. Most escape room board games I’ve played require specific 3 or 4 digit codes for every puzzle, MacGyver ERG uses anything from pass phrases, pattern matching, setting times, flipping switches, and arranging puzzle pieces. There’s some unfortunate separation from the tactile nature of a board game, but overall it allowed for fun and unique puzzles. This was probably my favorite aspect of the game, because it was always fun to see what the next new challenge would require.
Another unique feature is the way each scenario is put together, physically. While there are the classic “Do not open until directly told” envelopes, each scenario also comes with a folded up booklet with flaps taped shut. When you solve a puzzle, you get to open up a new flap, leading to the next challenge. This is a clever way to impart a sense of progression through the scenario.
That being said, the game does hold your hand a tiny bit. You never have to really figure out which components you’re supposed to be using or what the puzzle is. The booklet, in combination with the website prompts, give you very clear instructions about what to do next. They don’t tell you how to solve the puzzles, or even necessarily exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s very linear. You’ll pretty much never find yourself with multiple puzzles to solve or components you’re not sure exactly what to do with.
I don’t think you absolutely need to love the old MacGyver TV show to enjoy this as an escape room game, but familiarity with the show will give you some extra enjoyment. Each scenario is basically an episode of MacGyver – not necessarily a specific episode, although there was at least one whose plot I clearly recognized from the show – but in that sense, the linear progression gives you a story to follow along. There’s not a ton of discovery here – like I said, the website and booklets tell you what’s happening and what you need to do to move on – but it does at least give a direction and a context for your actions.
MacGyver ERG is not exactly re-usable – almost, but not quite. While the stickers and booklets could easily be taped back, there are bends and folds, and in one or two cases some paper cutting – that would leave puzzles essentially pre-solved if you handed it off to another player. I think at least 3 out of 5 scenarios are fully resettable – as long as the person who plays it next doesn’t mind having those stickers taped over. Still, 5 escape room scenarios for $30 isn’t a bad price.
Whether you’re an Escape Room enthusiast or a fan of MacGyver, I can certainly recommend this game. It’s accessible and contains many nods to the show. While overall I thought the challenges skewed to the easy side, they were still entertaining, and for escape room fans there are unique features and puzzles that make it worth exploring.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Pressman Games for providing a review copy of MacGyver: The Escape Room Game.