Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a cooperative dice-rolling board game for 1 to 5 players. Players take on the roles of explorers trying to escape a mysterious temple. The goal of the game is to reach the exit of the temple within the 10 minute timeframe. All players must reach it, otherwise the game is lost.
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Since Escape: The Curse of the Temple is played in real-time and the players are taking actions simultaneously, there’s never a dull moment. You’re constantly doing something - rolling dice, moving, placing gems, talking with your teammates, trying to rescue each other, etc.
The game is played while listening to a 10-minute soundtrack that includes atmospheric sound effects for extra immersion. Every three minutes a gong sound plays, which means you have to run for the starting chamber. If you don’t reach it before a door-shutting sound plays, you lose one die for the rest of the game, so this always leads to some gripping moments where players are frantically rolling and re-rolling dice.
Not only does Escape have three purchasable expansions - Illusions, Quests, and Traps, but there are also two expansion modules in the base edition - Treasures and Curses. These expansions make the game more challenging and add to the replayability of it.
If you’re playing with the treasures, then some rooms have treasure in them that you can claim by rolling the correct symbols. For example, a treasure can be a key that lets you teleport to any tile, or a door tile that lets you connect chambers that don’t have direct connections.
If you’re using the curse module, then you must draw a curse card when you enter a chamber with a purple mask. A curse can, for example, make you play the game with one hand on your head, or permit you to speak until you break the curse by rolling the right symbols.
Pro Adjustable difficulty
There are some ways to make the game a little easier or harder, which is great for adjusting Escape for the group you’re playing with. You can add or remove gems - they determine how easy it is to escape the temple from the final chamber, the bigger the gem pool, the more difficult it is.
The content in both the purchasable expansions and the included expansion modules can also be used to make the game more challenging. They add more elements to the game - things you can find in chambers, things you must do, etc. For example, the “Curses” module can lead to you finding a curse that makes you play the game with one hand on your head until you manage to cancel the curse.
Pro Short playtime
Escape is played while listening to a 10-minute soundtrack that marks the beginning and the end of the game. Due to this it’s easy to grab and quickly play through because you can know for sure that it won’t drag on for too long.
Pro Lots of engaging cooperation
The game has a lot of fun, social, and cooperative interactions between players. It can only be won if all players manage to escape, which encourages you to work together and help your fellow adventurers.
The biggest cooperative aspect of Escape is saving “locked out” players. A player can get locked out of actions if they have rolled five black masks. A black mask makes you set the die aside until someone on your tile rolls a golden mask to counteract two black ones. Basically you will be racing against the clock, exploring, and placing gems until someone next to you locks themselves out, which then forces you to go save them.
Pro Not complex
The rules of Escape: The Curse of the Temple are very straightforward - the whole game consists of rolling dice to perform actions, making the game very easy and accessible to people of all ages and gaming backgrounds.
The game takes place in real time, players receive five dice and play while listening to a 10-minute soundtrack. They simultaneously roll dice to move, explore, activate gems, and assist other players. Each action requires rolling specific symbols. You keep exploring tiles until you discover the exit chamber, which requires you to roll a specific amount of keys to exit. The amount of keys required can be reduced by placing gems in “chamber” tiles.
If a player rolls a black mask, then he must set that die aside until he rolls a golden mask that can counteract two black masks. If a player gets in a situation where they have rolled five black masks, then they are “locked out” and must wait for another player to come around to their tile and roll a golden mask to unlock their dice.
The whole game is based around rolling dice, so, obviously, you can simply get unlucky with your rolls and create complicated and annoying situations where your teammates have to come and save you by rolling golden masks.
Con Audio can be misheard
It can sometimes be difficult to discern audio while listening to the soundtrack, which can lead to players missing a gong sound and losing dice because of it. This is because there is a lot of ambient noise that blends in well and players are engaged and focused on the gameplay instead of the audio.
Con Requires something to play audio from
While Escape does come with an hourglass, it loses a lot of its charm and suspense when played this way. The game is supposed to be played with a 10-minute audio track in the background, so you need something to play it from - a CD player, a computer, or a mobile app.
Escape is not cheap, and the price can be quite steep for a 10-minute game. The price of the base game starts at $40 and only goes up from there. The expansions cost around $25 each.
Con Not very deep
Escape: The Curse of the Temple doesn’t really have a lot of strategic depth, so it might not appeal to more experienced gamers. You’re mostly going to be making decisions on the spot, and you usually only have two or three actions to choose from after a dice roll - keep exploring, place gems, or go help a teammate. The expansions help alleviate this issue a little bit by introducing more concepts - treasures, curses, other objectives to work towards, etc.