Escape Academy is a single-player and co-op virtual escape room game with some dangerous twists coming to Xbox Game Pass. Here is everything you need to know about Coin Crew’s co-op puzzle fest.
During a preview event for Escape Academy, Coin Crew’s co-founders Wyatt Bushnell and Mike Mohammed Salyh gave us a presentation of the game in action and answered some of our burning questions. If you’ve been on the hunt for a stimulating escape room experience on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, then Escape Academy might just be able to scratch that itch.
Escape Academy announcement trailer
When does Escape Academy release on Xbox?
Escape Academy launches on June 28th for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, PS5, PS4, Microsoft Store, Epic Games Store, and Steam.
What is Escape Academy?
Escape Academy is the product of Bushnell and Salyh’s love for real-world escape rooms and the fact that video games are currently lacking in the genre. “We made this game because we were locked down and we wanted to play escape rooms,” says Bushnell. “We were kind of shocked when looking at the Steam and Switch stores because it didn’t really seem like there was a good option.”
The game aims to focus on three defining pillars: real-world authenticity, unique puzzles, and a narrative to tie it all together. The idea behind Escape Academy is to offer players some of the best parts of real-world escape rooms, such as playing with your friends and the physicality of each room’s unique design, but within a digital environment. None of the puzzles in Escape Academy have been repeated, so you’ll have a fresh experience each time you head into one of the dozen or so rooms. Due to the nature of the gameplay, Coin Crew focused on giving players a satisfying experience with an interesting story and narrative arc, instead of creating shorter puzzles with more content for the sake of replayability. Salyh does tell us that if you have a bit of a mischievous streak, you can have a bit of fun redoing some of the puzzles with friends: “I have seen some groups play this game when they have beaten [the rooms], and then they’ll do the co-op with some friends and kind of cackle at watching their friends fail to solve the puzzle that they know the answer to.”
To truly bring the fun of escape rooms to the digital medium, Escape Academy required a way to bind it all together, so instead of just offering a disconnected bundle of puzzles, Coin Crew decided to wrap it all in an overarching narrative. The game follows a cohesive narrative that aims to guide you through each puzzle room in a natural manner, hence the reason it’s Escape Academy, a school.
What is Escape Academy about?
Escape Academy follows the story of a disgruntled employee that decides to visit an escape room for a short break from reality. The initial escape room is akin to a real-world low budget room you would find inside a mall or such, and it acts as a quickfire tutorial to set you up for the rest of the game. “Our goal with this is that we wanted to communicate that this isn’t a puzzle game, this is an escape room,” Salyh says. “So, we wanted to set the groundwork from the start.” The room will begin fairy simple to give you the fundamentals of the game, but as you begin unravelling the mysteries it’ll become “crazier and get more serious as you work your way into the big secret world of Escape Academy.”
Once you complete the first puzzles, you learn that it’s practically a try-out for a school that specialises in training those with a natural talent for escaping into secret agents. In fact, it’s built on top of the school, which gives the whole theme a magical Hogwarts kind of vibe. Much like real-world academies, each room acts as a classroom to teach you a different form of escape and cover different topics. Some will rely on perspective-style puzzles, while others put you against the clock and a life-threatening hazard that focuses on the moral: “fear will slow your mind.” The idea behind this is to ensure that you come out of each puzzle feeling like you’ve learnt something new. “By playing the game, you will get better at puzzles and escape rooms,” Salyh tells us.
As you attempt to navigate through the game, you’ll meet many different characters on your journey, from students to class professors, who, depending on their personality, will offer you encouraging motivation or light-hearted insults. To aid in the game’s immersive qualities further, you’ll receive an Escape Academy report card after each room, which will sum up your completion time and other stats along with a grade.
What kind of puzzles are in Escape Academy?
“In the world of video games, we can endanger the player character greatly,” Salyh says. “It lets us do these really cool scenarios that I think are one of the things that makes this game so special. And also, at times stressful.”
Escape Academy’s digital existence over real-world escape rooms allows it to put the player in situations that wouldn’t be possible in the real world, so you can expect the rooms to contain hazards and dangerous scenarios. During the preview, Coin Crew showed us one room that takes place in a 50-foot tower filling up with water. You’re against the clock in this one, and you need to climb the tower’s five floors to reach the exit — it’s essentially five, five-minute escape rooms rolled into one. Thanks to the nature of being a video game escape room, Escape Academy contains plenty of easter eggs and nods towards the overarching narrative and characters that you’ve met. It’s a way for Coin Crew to ensure that your experience remains coherent with the overarching narrative.
Does Escape Academy have multiplayer?
Escape Academy does feature co-op multiplayer and split-screen couch co-op. There isn’t a dedicated mode, so you’ll be playing the same rooms as when you play solo, but Bushnell tells us that the puzzles have been specifically designed to be enjoyable in both single-player and co-op.
What accessibility features does Escape Academy have?
One of the biggest features that Escape Academy provides players is the hint system. Just like real-world escape rooms have a game master that can give you tips if you’re stuck, Escape Academy has a virtual game master that can point you in the right direction if you need it. The hint system feeds into a feature called Room Review, which captures the game master’s list of steps when walking you through a puzzle’s solution. Salyh says that the hint system has been particularly entertaining when used with groups of players, as arguments break out about whether to use it or not while the time slowly ticks away.
The game is wholly translated into English, French, German, and Spanish, and any parts of the game that are language-dependent have been reworked to support the designated language. You’ll also find photosensitivity and colourblind modes within the game’s settings. Additionally, the game only uses two buttons to interact with the environment, as well as toggles for movement, and by its very nature allows players to enjoy the puzzle sequences even if they’re not the ones controlling the character.
While there is a time limit for playing against the clock in some of the puzzles, the game doesn’t just end. You can continue playing for an unlimited amount of time if you so wish, although it will have a negative effect on your report card.
How are Escape Academy’s puzzles tested
The nature of creating puzzles is that you can’t truly play and test them yourself, because you already know the answers; you can’t unlearn that. Coin Crew brings in playtesters every couple of weeks to see how they react to the puzzles and to learn about the theories players come up with to advance through a room. The final product will be the result of a dynamic process that has been undertaken by many testers.
Real-world escape room playtests are difficult to undertake. There are a host of challenges that need to be overcome, such as the logistics of getting the equipment and playtesters to a testing space, renting the actual space, working within short timeframes, and a host of other difficulties that can be a logistical and economical nightmare. The result is that escape rooms might only be tested a few dozen times before going live to the public. The digital nature of Escape Academy, though, means that it can be tested hundreds of times by people all over the world, from all walks of life. In theory, this means that Escape Academy’s puzzles should be well refined and balanced once the game launches in June.
Will Escape Academy have post-launch content?
Coin Crew didn’t go into details, but post-launch content and expansions are planned for Escape Academy. It doesn’t sound like anything is in the works right now, though, so we’ll need to wait for more news later on down the line.
That’s everything we know about Escape Academy thus far. What do you think of it? Will you be looking forward to the mind-bending puzzles? Let us know down in the comments!
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