(Sorry for the labored pun in the title there, I couldn’t help myself!)
Lock Paper Scissors recently sent me a copy of Rebel Revolt to try out with my friends and family. As an at-home escape room game, it’s very different from the usual board game fare that makes up our bread-and-butter, but honestly, the change of pace was refreshing.
So, does this spy escape room game live up to the hype? (Spoiler alert – YES!)
Initial thoughts and setup:
First of all, as a hardcore introvert, I’m a huge fan of the concept of at-home escape room games. Going out for an escape room is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it would be exhausting to make a regular habit of it. Plus, the printable kit is waaaay cheaper. We played Rebel Revolt for only 1/4 the price of going out to an escape room, and that’s not including celebratory drinks!
The escape room kit came with everything we needed for the evening. Maybe a little more, we’re not the ‘fancy themed party’ type of crowd. The download was super easy, and we got the game printed and ready to play in 15 minutes (it may have taken a little longer if I had bothered to properly cut out the game pieces, but not much longer).
Setting up the game is a breeze. If you want to turn your living room into a post-apocalyptic war zone in the struggle between good and evil, you can. You download the game pieces and posters, but you can really go all out and create a true escape room at home.
We’re not the “renovate the living room for an hour” type of family. The game only requires a table to work through the puzzles and a small area clear of furniture for the game’s last challenge. We decided to forego the posters and Universal Studios design consultants and simply cut the pieces out.
Once the game was set up, we turned switched on their custom Spotify playlist to really set the theme. You’re a secret agent. You need secret agent music!
You’ll also need room for a device or two. You have to enter the solutions to each puzzle on a phone or computer to advance to the next puzzle. We used a Chromebook for puzzle solutions and hints, and an iPad for our timer.
For the truly brave, the game is completely customizable. They bundle a PowerPoint file that lets you directly edit the game files on your computer, so you can make your very own spy escape room game. We didn’t have the time to do this, but it’s a seriously cool idea!
How to play:
Rebel Revolt is really very simple. There’s no rulebook to learn, you just follow the guide and solve each challenge as you come across them.
You divide the cards into four ‘challenge piles’, and tackle each pile one at a time. Follow the ‘Mission Guide‘ to get instructions, story text, and then enter your answers. It will tell you whether or not you got it right.
Rebel Revolt features a scoring system based on how long you took, how many solutions you needed and how many landmines you stepped on. You aim for the lowest score possible. You only “lose” if you fail to get through the minefield in time.
The scoring system would make a larger party game night a blast. You can print as many copies of the game as you like. Break into groups of 2-4 and compete to see who can save the world the quickest with the fewest hints! And stay off of those land mines!
Rebel Revolt requires you to save the resistance by breaking into the United World Government’s Warhead Antimatter Response (W.A.R.) facility to steal the Antimatter Warhead. As you leave, you rig the facility to blow. We saw ourselves as Han Solo and Princess Leia breaking into the Empire’s shield facility on Endor (although we’re probably more like Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd in Spies Like Us).
Beginning The Game – The Training Mission:
They included a small training puzzle to warm you up for the rest of this spy escape room. The training program loosens up your problem-solving skills. It also introduces you to the answer and hint section of the website. The training puzzle is pretty simple. The game puzzles require a bit more work.
We had two good friends over to play the game with my wife and me. To protect the innocent, I will call the three of them Huey, Dewey, and Louie. We each chose a character card for the game. Huey chose Knox. Dewey chose Rae. Louie became Tess. That left me with Zhar. Zhar was my preference anyway. There is a version of the game where Zhar becomes a double agent, but I decided that we should play the game straight.
We breezed through the training mission. I think the game designers wanted us to feel confident before the mission started. That confidence disappeared like the sun sinking below the horizon as soon as the game started.
Saving the World, One Puzzle At a Time:
Start the clock and begin. If you succeeded in properly cutting out the game pieces, the puzzles are in order. No scampering around the room, searching for clues. They are right in front of you.
Unless, that is, you do what Dewey did and begin shuffling through and laying out the pieces. Fortunately, I left open the browser tab that held the game pieces for printing, so we quickly put them back in order. First crisis averted.
We began working our way through the game. Rebel Revolt’s puzzles require spatial reasoning, word skills, and logical thinking. That meant different players took the lead on puzzles that fit their strengths.
However, some puzzles left us feeling more like Bozo the Clown than Yoda. We did ask for hints four times and, on a particularly tough puzzle, grabbed the solution after several failed attempts. Warning — asking for a solution generally leaves you feeling like a fool when you see how easily you could have solved it. However, the hints led us to puzzle solutions more quickly than we could have done without them.
The hints were so good that Louie wanted to ask for them right as we reached a puzzle. Dewey loudly objected, telling Louie that we needed to at least try before we asked for help. Huey and I agreed. When we did solve a puzzle without hints, there were high fives all around!
Louie and Dewey did not want to ask for the solution. Louie kept flipping around the card as if spinning it around would somehow reveal the mystery within. Dewey snatched it from her and laid it out on the table. After watching them argue for 30 seconds about the best place to put the card to solve the puzzle, Huey and I stepped in. We persuaded them that we would not find the solution with both hands and a flashlight. The solution was revealed, and we moved on.
For the most part, Huey, Dewey, and Louie plowed through the puzzles with my calm and wise guidance (hey, I’m writing this, I get to be the smart one in the room!). We felt like real spies, sneaking through the corridors of a secret facility.
No spoilers, but we made it through the puzzles of this spy escape room. One task left!
The Last Challenge:
In your hall or another similarly small area, layout the mine cards. Everyone except Zhar puts on a blindfold. Zhar has to use the team’s only night vision goggles (there’s no way that Q was in charge of equipping this mission) to prevent the others from stepping on the mines. However, he can only use his voice — no physical assistance! Each player must spin around several times before running through the minefield, making Zhar’s work much more difficult.
The team has 7 minutes to exit the minefield, or they blow up with the facility. More importantly, every mine that a team member steps on adds 10 points to the team’s score. Zhar needs to give good instructions to get the team through the minefield quickly but safely.
We did get out of the minefield. However, Huey and Dewey each stepped on a mine. In Dewey’s case, Zhar told her to move her foot left. However, she confused Zhar’s left and her left and landed squarely on a mine. After an exasperated sigh from Zhar and some momentary bickering about which side is her right and which side is her left, ground rules were laid down, and she breezed through without an incident.
Huey stepped on a mine when his knee buckled. His forehead also hit the wall, but as that did not impact the game score, no one cared until after the game. Years of being an international man of mystery take their toll, especially on the knees. We all laughed, and after we got him through the minefield, we checked to see if there was an injury provision to avoid the 10 point penalty (there wasn’t, but I highly recommend one!).
We finished the game in 51 minutes. We viewed one solution and stepped on two mines. Therefore, our final score was 76. Dewey profusely apologized for not listening more closely to the wise and powerful Zhar, realizing that the score could have been much lower (ok, she blamed Zhar for bad advice, but it sounds sooooo much better the other way).
The Aftermath – Reveling in the Victory:
The aftermath of escape games rocks. We put the clues away, turned off the timers, and sat down to a well-deserved post-game dinner (always eat after the game, not before).
As we ate, we rehashed the game. Which clues could we have solved more quickly? How could we have avoided the five point solution? Compliments flew for quickly resolved puzzles. There may also have been a few good laughs at boneheaded suggestions that took us down the wrong path (none of those were Zhar’s suggestions, as far as you know).
We loved Rebel Revolt. We should have saved it for a larger gathering. It makes a great party game, and it would have been fun to compete against other teams. The scoring system lends itself to friendly competition (cough, cough) much more than pure time. A gathering of 12 people would allow 3 teams and no shortage of bragging over dinner.
If you’re looking for a great game night that’s a bit different from the norm, I’d highly recommend picking up Rebel Revolt. It’s especially good if you’re planning a party or event, but I can confirm that it makes for a fun game night with a small group of close friends.