October is not only the time of the international game days, but also the time of the autumn mood and the horror. With longer and longer phases of darkness and gray clouds, the perfect season for a game night begins. Alone or as a group, the analogue escape game with interactive elements for adults "Escape Tales - Children of Wyrmwood" is supposed to provide exciting entertainment. Sounds perfect for long autumn evenings or as a Halloween game. Whether the game originally published by Board & Dice, which was released as a German-language localization under the Grimspire brand by Happy Shops via crowdfunding in the Spieleschmiede, keeps what it promises? Read it yourself.


Escape games are and will remain a trend. Be it as a puzzle adventure at one of the many providers on site or online, as a horror film and as video or board games. With the solo or cooperative playable Escape Tales - Children of Wyrmwood, by the author duo Jakub Caban and Bartosz Idzikowski, the third title in the Escape Tales series has already been released. Not without reason. The two previous puzzle games Escape Tales - Low-Memory (2020) and Escape Tales - The Awakening (2019) ensured thrilling tension at the gaming table and a positive response from the players. One difference to its predecessors: The app comes into play more clearly with the new decoupling. 

The German translation of both previous titles was published by Kosmos. Each of the titles can be played independently and does not require any prior knowledge. The new horror game Children of Wyrmwood is an analog escape game for adult players aged 16 and over. For the fun of the game, only the basic version and a smartphone or computer are required, as well as one-time access to the Internet. Once the data has been loaded onto the website, the game can be played without the need for further internet access. It is played solo or together with up to four other players.

Children of Wyrmwood: Dark Guesswork

Children of Wyrmwood come along in a gloomy guise. That goes down well and reflects the gruesome basic theme. Because the story of the Escape Games takes its players to a gruesome small town. Surrounded by a gloomy forest, everyone here seems to be in danger. The reason for this could be threatening wyrm roots that are already lurking for their next victims. Special attention is paid to a young man. So nothing less than the fate of the not exactly popular city dweller Gilbert is in the hands of the players. But this task is not that easy, because his survival depends on many tricky tasks. As if all of that wasn't enough, the father of all people seems to be playing a terrible game on his beloved. The gruesome story is told using story books and maps. It should be mentioned here that the plot changes with the decisions of the players and leads to different endings. The set of rules comprises a total of eight clearly laid out pages and is therefore worked through quickly in order to find an introduction to the puzzle game without further ado. 

Escape Tales - Children of Wyrmwood doesn’t just offer more of the genre-known elements, but sometimes breaks new ground. Choices and different approaches to solving puzzles successfully are two of the most obvious differences from many of the now standard food escape titles. These innovations do not always result in a playful added value, but if they do, the gaming experience benefits significantly. Instead of following a story with just puzzle solving, Escape Tales - Children of Wyrmwood actually comes up with game mechanics. However, there are plenty of puzzles, of varying difficulty - but always fair. Sometimes the task is real head nuts, which you cannot work away on the side, but must tackle with the use of brainpower. 

Escape Tales - Children of Wyrmwood shows its strengths conceptually as a combination as a puzzle game with a strong role-play element. The character progression is particularly pleasing - on two levels: playful and story-wise. 

The illustrations on the cards are handsome. Photo: Volkmann

The illustrations on the cards are handsome. Photo: Volkmann

Basically, Children of Wyrmwood is played in a simple two-step process: (1) Select a chapter: In this phase, the players look for the appropriate chapter of the story from the story book. It is important to adhere to a precisely specified sequence. You can choose between the prologue and the first chapter from story book1, the second chapter from story book2 and the epilogue from story book 3. Then the players read the corresponding section of the and follow all the instructions given. (2) Actions are carried out until the game prompts you to read from the story book again. You can choose to explore the room, rest or spend, solve a puzzle or combine the map. This process doesn't sound particularly complicated. And indeed, once the simple instructions have been read, Children of Wyrmwood can be played without further explanation. If there are any uncertainties in the course of the game, the enclosed game aids will help. However, the information system is not particularly sophisticated and one of the points of criticism in this escape game. Nevertheless: The beginner-friendliness remains an overall strength that connects all the games in the Escape-Tales series: You only need a little preparation to start a puzzling game evening together.

The illustrators Jakub Fajtanowski and Aleksander Zawada are responsible for the creepy-looking artwork, who filled the areas of the escape rooms with dark, colorful drawings that visually convey the right mood to the players.

The game material from Children of Wyrmwood is of high quality and contains: 36 action discs, 187 discovery cards, 8 rest cards, 8 spending cards, 16 space cards, 1 map, 4 playing aids and 1 instructions. The 3 story books complete the material as the heart of the puzzle game, which fits into the horror theme in terms of design, although they are kept rather sober and clear.

Artwork with goosebumps flair

After learning the rules quickly, the gruesome guesswork about the fate of the protagonist can begin: At the beginning, three decks of cards are laid out, consisting of discovery cards, resting and spending cards and room cards (rooms can be actual rooms, but also locations). The action discs are laid out next to them and the Escape Tales website opens. Now the reader of the group reads the prologue and then the introduction of the first chapter from the story book. In this section, players will learn how to begin their escape adventure. The corresponding paragraph reveals which instructions must be followed afterwards or it contains important information for the course of the game. The corresponding reference to the paragraph you are looking for is always at the end of each introduction. These guide you through the game and are not arranged in any order, so the numbering you are looking for must be observed.

A smartphone, or better still a tablet, supports the game. Photo: Volkmann

A smartphone, or better still a tablet, supports the game. Photo: Volkmann

Paragraphs therefore contain a numbering, an event text that can contain hints and information about puzzles or the story, as well as often instructions. In addition, they give the game an atmosphere that players otherwise prefer to find in fantasy adventure books. If neither the app nor the story book specify an action, the players can freely decide what to do to solve the puzzle. To solve this, the players need a certain, collected number and order of cards. Gilbert's character values ​​can also be changed using the cards.

The puzzles are then solved using an app, which also offers assistance if the players are at a loss. These are staggered and lead to the final solution of the current puzzle without any consequences waiting for the players. What is remarkable about Children of Wyrmwood is that the puzzles vary in difficulty, but can by no means be described as very easy. At the same time, the escape game convinces with its simple set of rules, including comprehensible and yet variable game actions. During the entire game, the moves are made cooperatively and by arrangement. The game only provides the framework. In the first chapter the players are led into the adventure. You get to know the game mechanics, Gilbert, for whose fate you are responsible, the village and the gloomy background.

Gilbert's fate is in your hands

If you are now expecting an adventure in the style of a classic puzzle book, you will not get the expected escape game with Children of Wyrmwood. The decisions made have too few consequences for this, rather the game accompanies you through a dark story, which, depending on the decision of the player, ends in different ways. Anyone looking for an easy to understand, tricky puzzle board game with influences from a “Choose Your Own” adventure will most likely enjoy the escape rooms around a cursed city. Whether you can only address adults from 16 years of age or also older children is ultimately a question that every player has to ask himself.

The app-driven escape game has a table structure - this creates a board game flair. Photo: Volkmann

The app-driven escape game has a table structure - this creates a board game flair. Photo: Volkmann

According to our party, we are of the opinion that even a little younger age groups than stated according to the assessment can cope with the content. However, this may require a preparatory discussion. Here, too, the simple process would make itself felt in a positive way: Because the previous process is always repeated in a similar way in the individual chapters of the story, the process is also easy to understand for older children after a learning phase.

For some players, however, the lack of drastic consequences, which are almost only shown in the story-wise variable end phase of the game, could be a disadvantage. The rules are quickly understood and it plays just as quickly and fluently. With its long playing time of 450+ minutes, Children of Wyrmwood can provide continuous, cooperative or solo puzzle fun and is part of a game that should only be put on the table when the players are ready for this adventure. Even inexperienced puzzle lovers can get started within a short time with additional help from the player aids.

Infobox

Number of players: 1 to 4
Age: from 16 years
Playing time: about 450+ minutes
Difficulty: easy to difficult
Long-term motivation: medium
Genre: puzzle game
Sub-genre: Escape games
Core mechanisms: solving puzzles, role play

Authors: Jakub Caban and Bartosz Idzikowski
Illustrations: Jakub Fajtanowski and Aleksander Zawada
Published by Grim Spire / Happy Shops
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020/2021
Language: German
Cost: 30 Euro 

Summary

Escape Tales - Children of Wyrmwood appeals to players and puzzle lovers alike with the interplay of its easy set of rules, the exciting subject matter and the sometimes very tricky puzzle mechanism. The basic story of the escape game could basically be interchangeable and, for example, be about an adventure in a brightly colored fairy tale forest. Nevertheless, the mystical setting is fun and brings a mixture of fantastic shudders and funny elements to the gaming table. Children of Wyrmwood is very easy to learn and easy to explain to fellow players, but you can expect quite a few complex puzzles. The only downer: the players do not expect such real consequences.

Of course, it's appealing that the end of the game changes depending on the decisions made by the players. But I would expect from a scary game for adults that wrong decisions and solutions have negative consequences. This becomes particularly noticeable when the players ask for help in solving the puzzles. After several pieces of help, the puzzle can be solved. This approach does not have any disadvantages for the players. However, Children of Wyrmwood creates a great atmosphere and the puzzles are fun and one or the other desperate groan with them. Visually, the escape game can also be seen in a creepy robe. The app works great and is well embedded in the game. That is a definite plus.

The title can be played equally well solo or with up to four other players, since all decisions are made together in a group. Previous experience is not required for the board game, just a little training and at the beginning the use of player aids to allow the game to flow. It's simple: if you've played the rest of the Escape Tales series and found it to be good, you have to play this new part - it's the best of the series. And all the others? Receive a high-quality mind and puzzle game that doesn't have to hide behind other genre competitors, on the contrary, actually. Children of Wyrmwood brings a little breath of fresh air into the dusty and almost arbitrary segment. 


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Last updated on 29.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API