Magical family fun
A box is delivered to your door, within it a letter from a stranger who claims that you have magical powers. You begin the quest and quickly find out that they are telling the truth.
Who is the stranger? Do you actually have magical powers? Can you become the next Wizard’s Apprentice?
It’s always exciting receiving post. It’s even more exciting receiving post when it’s something fun and not just a credit card statement. Breakout Unboxed definitely fulfills that requirement.
Breakout are a U.K. based escape room company with venues in Manchester, Liverpool, and Chester; surprisingly, we haven’t actually made it to any of their branches, but we also don’t venture northwards too often. But Breakout Unboxed brings the Breakout experience to you. This was borne out of necessity due to the global events of 2020, but I am loving the escape at home experiences that have come out in the last year (it makes a nice change from the Exit boxes).
I will be honest, Gord normally handles the arrangements for the games that we play, which means I rarely have any idea what a game is about before I play. In fact, I only knew of this particular game as “Breakout Unboxed.” When I gathered up the slim game box with the rest of the boring post that arrived that day, the Breakout logo immediately made me think that this would be a spy thriller or bank heist, as the title was still nowhere to be seen. So imagine my surprise when we opened the box and we discovered a magic wand…
The Wizard’s Apprentice is a boxed game, full of tangible elements, including some padlocks for those of you that are missing the satisfaction of spinning a dial. The game begins with a mysterious letter from someone claiming to be a ‘many-greats’ grandparent. It’s not quite as exciting as the letter from Hogwarts that seems to have gone astray, but intriguing nonetheless, as we followed the clues to make sense of the mystery. Although the Wizard’s Apprentice has clearly taken some inspiration from a certain series centered around teenaged witches and wizards, the similarities end there.
The game is quite heavily driven by the narrative, giving it a more linear feel, as each piece of information we uncovered led to the next piece of the puzzle. The game takes a mixed media approach, using physical materials, websites, and even video to immerse you in the story. But perhaps one of the most fun aspects were the simple “magic” tricks that were woven into the game. We’ve played other magic-themed games that boasted a magic trick or two (Witchery Spell springs to mind), and although The Wizard’s Apprentice makes use of a simpler mechanic to make the magic work than the aforementioned game, it was infinitely more satisfying. But the added magic element makes me think that this would be an ideal choice for a family game night, and one to be enjoyed with a younger audience. Or perhaps just with those that are young at heart.
The Wizard’s Apprentice feels to be on the more expensive end of things for a boxed game at £27.00 (plus shipping if you live outside of the UK). But it is still a bit cheaper than other boxed games on the market, and has more of a wow-factor when compared to the cheaper options. Plus it’s a solid game, fun, and gave us a little over an hour’s entertainment. It is totally replayable, giving it a slightly better value, as it could be shared with a friend or two.
While there wasn’t much in the way of searching, unlike a traditional escape room, the puzzles in The Wizard’s Apprentice carried over many things from their more physical siblings in terms of puzzle styles. Observation, logic, wordplay, patterns – they all played their part, and that’s not even mentioning the actual magic that took place that I mentioned earlier. But unlike a self-contained box game (like the Exit or Unlock games), The Wizard’s Apprentice makes use of the Internet to add even more variety to the puzzles, utilising some of the digital puzzle types we’ve come to expect from games that venture more into the ARG realm, putting your ability to hunt through a website or two for the information you require to the test.
Whether the puzzles were physical or digital, however, they did benefit from some really wonderful “Ah-Ha!” moments, and were all fair and logical. In fact, the only stumbling blocks we came across could be attributed to our own failures to thoroughly sift through all of the available resources we uncovered.
As with most play at home experiences, clues are available should they be needed. While we have seen some really clever clue systems in our at home escapes, Breakout Unboxed have stuck with the tried and true mechanism of a clue page on their website which can be accessed through the account created when the game was purchased. (You can find a game timer in this section as well, if you’re so inclined.)
Clues are clearly laid out for each puzzle, and follow what seems to be the standard of gradual nudges, followed by the solution if you find that you really just can’t make any sense of it. Fortunately, the clue page utilises a drop-down button for each clue so there’s no chance of spoilers.
With a strong narrative, traditional escape room style puzzles, and a bit of magic (yes, really), The Wizard’s Apprentice is ideal for a family game night, or perhaps just for introducing someone to the idea of an escape room.
- Computer and Browser
- Paper and pen for taking notes
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 75 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.