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Wild Optimists - Escape Room In A Box - TIME Drifters: "ISABEL's Story" & "KIRA's Story"

Updated: Apr 30


Company: Wild Optimists (Published by Mattel)

Game: Escape Room In A Box - Time Drifters: ISABEL's Story/ KIRA's Story

Country: USA 🇺🇸

Language: English

Type of Game: Puzzles By Mail 📬

Genre: Time Travel

Date Played: December 21, 2021

Difficulty (based on 2 Players): 3/10

Size of Team: Up to 4 Players

Time: Unlimited (Suggested 75 Minutes)

Price: $14.99 (each)


Note: "ISABEL's Story" was reviewed and written by Jillian Raymond

"KIRA's Story" was reviewed and written by Matthew Lui


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Isabel and Kira have been traveling the world through time and space. They have spent their lives going from century to century and experiencing things we can only dream of using their custom-built time machine. Until…an accident causing the time machine to split off leaving Kira and Isabel stuck in separate times and places. Each person must fix their side of the time machine and find a way to communicate with the other before becoming stranded alone forever!


Note: This game is part of a two-part experience that must be bought separately. Once

each is solved, groups are able to combine both games for a bonus third game that has them working together to reunite Kira and Isabel in the same timeline in a bonus game.


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Both games come inside a traditional game box with a beautiful illustration on top of the respective person fixing her time machine. When these boxes are placed side by side, they create an amazing image that shows how they are stuck in different times and places.


Inside the box is a steampunk style warning before you begin. After lifting the “Stop” divide in Isabel’s Story, you will find a story, rules, and tip sheet, a locked box, a sealed red plastic bag with cardboard squares and little pegs in it, a tray, a ruler, and a series of pages from Isabel with instructions and hints on how to open the locked box. I found the design and layout of the game to be really nice. The steampunk theme really drew me in and enjoyed a ripped stylization to Isabel’s notes that leant themselves to idea that Isabel literally had to find whatever she could write on to communicate with her friend. Also, the tray was perfect for a series of puzzles that require you lining up the squares so they wouldn’t accidentally shift while moving around. This game definitely took the time to consider what players would need to accomplish their task smoothly without giving away everything which is perfect for a mass market escape game like

this.


Lifting the “Stop” divide in Kira’s Story, you will be met with a note from Kira, explaining the situation, the Time Machine Schematics, a locked box, and 2 envelopes marked Toolbox 1 and Toolbox 2.


The graphic of the design overall is very appealing from the graph paper schematics to the look of textured paper. The paper shows that Kira is possibly an engineer/mechanic through the engineering paper and the envelopes that look very much like a well used toolbox. One thing lacking would be a little more color or design on the contraption as it does look plain.


Isabel's Story

Kira's Story

Photos above are property of Wild Optimists


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This game encourages you to set a timer for 75 minutes before you begin the game in

order to give a true escape room feel. Once you start the timer, you open the box and

are provided with a brief introduction, rules, and tips. The big thing to remember is this game follows a linear set up so when something is numbered 1,2, 3, etc you should follow that order.


The goal for Isabel’s Story is to repair the time machine console by identifying the

correct orientation of the four diodes. These diodes will help identifying the position of the switches that when aligned right will activate the time machine! After reading the “Note to Kira” you will see the direction to solve the first diode which includes a note on which items you need to solve the puzzle and clues. Diodes are identified by two numbers – a column (which will always be 1 or 2), and a row (which will be rows 3-9). Using the pegs provided in the red pouch, you will plug in the diodes in their correct spot and when you attach the console tray onto the time machine box, it will help you identify the correct switches. Overall I found I really enjoyed the game play here. It is quite linear and makes for a relaxing experience.


The goal for Kira’s Story is also to repair the time machine but you will not be sure how to do it until you have completed the puzzles. As you open the toolbox envelopes, you will get some different gears and items that will help you along the way. Looking at the engineering schematics of time machine, you will be guided on what needs to be done and solved to repair the time machine.


Gameplay For Final Game: Once you have solved your game, the goal is to team up

with another player who has the other game box and use the pages stored in your

locked box. Together your goal is to use each others games to find the location, date,

and time for Isabel and Kira to meet. In each person’s locked compartment there will be key pages that you must read to your partner that will help them solve a puzzle on their end and vice versa.


NOTE: I ended up facing two issues in my gameplay of Isabel’s story that impaired my

game play at the end. First, the hint site was down so I was unable to check the hint

system and see how it runs. Even now, a month later (January 2022), the site is still

facing difficulties, but we found by googling the site, rather than inputting

escaperoominabox.com into the URL, helped us find the sites’ hint page and, later, the

page to input the final third puzzle game. It appears the main page is just down.

Second, which was compounded my first issue, was an unknown printing error on my

locked box. The arrows and dashes on the side of the box were printed upside down.

The solving element of the game was fine and fit within the run time of the game, but I was stuck on the final element of opening the box for almost two hours because I was unsure what was wrong. So, the whole experience was wonderful until I was faced with printing error and the lack of hint site added to the frustration.


Incorrect Correct

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The puzzles in Isabel’s Story are light but engaging. This game is tailored for more

mass market players which means the puzzling is more about the “aha” moment. That

is to say once you figure out how the puzzle works you easily have the answer rather than have to push through a multistep puzzle. Puzzles consist of observation, tracking, hidden messages, and following directions. I really enjoyed some of the reveals with these puzzles as they weren’t super obvious until you reach the end. I also felt that having players physical maneuver even some drawing helped engage players into the experience. The story is quite light so what is meant to stand out here are the puzzles and I think they did a great job.


My advice for more experienced players is to follow the directions. It can be easy to

brute force these kinds of puzzles but for the true experience stick to the instructions and you’ll have a fun experience. Even with the light puzzling, I enjoyed the puzzle solutions and the satisfaction of opening the box will be so much sweeter.


For Kira’s Story, the puzzles were straightforward with some that needed you to play

with the items. Most of the puzzles required you to follow the instructions of the cryptic text. If you are an experienced puzzler, do not over think these puzzles as I was hung up a few times thinking there was more. You should not need to destroy anything but if you do, the designers have released the paper items on boardgamegeek.com to allow you to reprint the paper items. Even though there is a set order to solve things, there was some leeway that allowed me to skip a few puzzles and then come back to them if I was not sure how solve them right away.


Some tips for this game are to make sure you examine everything before diving too far into a puzzle solve. There were a couple times I assumed I knew how to solve something, only to find out I needed another piece that I had not examined yet. Also, do not play around with the box too much. For the final puzzle, the box did open before I completed putting everything into place.


Puzzle for Final Game: The core mechanic of the final game’s puzzles was collaboration. The hints on the papers provided would direct you back to a component to use and you’d use similar puzzle concepts to put together the solution. I found it an excellent style as you listen to your partner and think “oh, oh! I know what to do.” That said it does become a little one sided as you wait for your partner to finish the puzzle before getting a clue for yours. So just remember to be patient! Also, try to play the final game not too long after you’ve completed the first 2 or ensure you keep track of the previous answers for the final game.

Photos above are property of ESCAPETHEROOMers


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The Time Drifters game as a whole, consist of a really neat premise and excellent “aha” puzzle solutions that new and experienced players will enjoy. The theme is on point and the details within this game make this mass market game so much more special to enjoy. We also love the fact that you could combine 2 of the games to play a 3 rd game which fit the theme perfectly. The ending was sweet but a little short. We recommend this game for those looking for a light puzzle experience that focuses more on the reveals and for puzzlers looking for a good collaborative game that can be played in-person and virtual!

 

Check out our interview with the creators to understand more on the development side of the game:

 

Isabel's Story

Kira's Story

 

(If you do decide to try this game, please remember to let them know that you heard it from"ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)


Disclosure: We thank Wild Optimists for providing us with samples of the game. Although a complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.

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