Review: Insync Games’ Escape Advent Calendars

Review – Escape Advent Calendars

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Price – £19.99 (~$27)

Disclaimer: we purchased the calendars with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.

A little background from Chaos:

Since we’ve started dating, Confetti and I have done dozens of escape rooms together.  While we love completing rooms with friends, we especially enjoy duo-ing them as a pair.  We work our brains and strengthen our teamwork and relational-bond. Wins all around!

Over the years, we’ve regularly exhausted our local escape room scene.  We’ve expanded our circle wider and wider as we’ve tracked down more rooms worth tackling.  It’s also not unusual for us to research the best escape rooms or puzzle experiences when visiting a new area.  Honeymoon in Aruba?  Yep, we found the one escape room on the island.  Texas for a wrestling event?  Hello Strange Bird Immersive and Escape the Game, both topped ranked escape rooms in the country.  Florida for Disney World?  We can make time for a heist with a muppet at The Bureau escape room.

Unfortunately, new rooms take a while to appear locally and we can’t always travel to a new location.  Thankfully, there are many at home escape rooms, mystery challenges, and puzzles to try.  We have definitely done our part to support the at-home puzzle challenge industry.  Sorry, newly born son.  Just don’t pick a college that is too expensive (only kidding).

The talk of at home puzzle solving brings me to the time a few years ago when I decided to do something a little different for Confetti one Christmas.  We both love puzzles equally, but she dwarfs me in her love of gifts.   It’s 100% her love language.  So, I put together an advent puzzle that would guarantee her small gifts throughout December, eventually leading to her larger gifts on Christmas.

I purchased a wooden advent box and set to work decorating it and stuffing it with challenges.  Some of the puzzles were contained to the box and the tasks found inside each door.  Others led to mini scavenger hunts or clues to decipher around the house.  I tried to make the advent calendar, the puzzles, and it’s prizes personal.  For example, on the day we went to see Hamilton, Confetti had a Hamilton lyrics and trivia crossword which earned her a Hamilton necklace.   

The puzzles and experiences weren’t perfect, but it worked out well overall.  It’s just a little harder when the person you design puzzles with and playtest things with is the one person you can’t show your work to until it’s actually being implemented (we have put together a few escape room like experiences for friends over the years).  Most importantly,  I believe Confetti enjoyed and appreciated the advent experience, at least enough to ask when I would up my game and provide another advent calendar.

Fast-forward several years, and she’s finally getting another escape advent calendar, two in fact!  I’m just not the one to put them together this time.  

The Product:

Earlier in the year, Chaos came across Insync Games’ Escape Advent Calendar Kickstarter and quickly signed up for five copies of both of their new calendars: Escape the Christmas Closet and All Wrapped Up*.  

Insync markets their calendars as all-in-one escape room-ish experiences.  Everything you need is found in or on the calendar, with each day’s puzzle leading you to which door to open the next day.  The puzzles are meant to be suitable for anyone ages 10 and up and are meant to take only a few minutes.  Of course, each day also comes with the reward of some milk chocolate.  

*The four extra copies of each calendar were gifts to other friends.  We thought it might be neat if we all were doing the same mini-puzzles each day.  This however added the extra hope and pressure for these calendars to be good and worthwhile.  We took a gamble on a new-to-us publisher.  We reassured ourselves, at the very least everyone would get some chocolate.

Our thoughts:

Now that we have completed both calendars and eaten twenty-five days’ worth of milk chocolate we’d like to give you our thoughts on Insync Games’ Escape Advent Calendars.

First, we would like to applaud Insync Games for actually getting the calendars to us with plenty of time to spare.  Kickstarters are notorious for delays and during a global shipping crisis, things have only gotten worse.  However, all our calendars arrived in October, so there was never the feeling of a time crunch.  Even better, the mailer the calendars arrived in came with their own extra puzzles to solve which added a little extra bang for our buck.

As for the actual calendars, they met the expectations that Insync Games established wonderfully.  Each calendar set up a little narrative (escape a closet/find the missing piece of coal) and then offered up little puzzles along the way.  None of the days’ solutions were too challenging to figure out, but a few did take a little more thinking than others.  What we appreciated most was that all puzzles had satisfying answers that never felt like logic leaps or as if the answer didn’t make sense.  

Between the two calendars, we both liked Escape the Christmas Closet the best as adults with grown-up puzzle solving skills.  While both were solid experiences, Christmas Closet provided a bit more variety and the puzzles were slightly more difficult.  All Wrapped Up seemed like it might be aimed at a slightly younger audience, having puzzles that focused more on putting together sentences, letter and shape recognition, and simple pattern matching.  

We didn’t quiz our friends on their enjoyment of their puzzles, but when they were discussed, they seemed to all enjoy them well enough, while also admitting that the puzzles were fun but not too challenging.  Insync claimed that each solution would only take a few minutes to solve, so they delivered what they promised.

Would we buy another advent calendar from Insync Games if they came out with new ones?  Yes. Chaos might not go all in and purchase for our friend group again, but we liked the calendars as daily brain teasers.  Also, since we had two calendars, we each got a piece of milk chocolate each day.  

We would recommend these calendars for a family with young children or for anyone looking for a simple challenge each day that works as an excuse to eat a sweet as you countdown to Christmas.

Carnage of candy wrappers

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