Dale Yu: Review of Escape Room in A Box: Time Drifters (Isabel’s Story and Kira’s Story) – Spoiler Free

Escape Room in A Box: Time Drifters (Isabel’s Story and Kira’s Story)

  • Designers: Juliana Moreno Patel and Ariel Rubin
  • Publisher: Mattel
  • Players: 1-4
  • Age: 15+
  • Time: 75 minutes on the box


Over the past few years, there have been a number of Escape Room game franchises that we have come back to again and again.  For me, the Escape Room in the Box have been among my favorites, (along with the EXIT series, the UNLOCK games and the Deckscape series).  Each has their own signature style and gimmicks, and I look forward to seeing what each one has to offer with their newest installment.

The Escape Room in a Box games have relied heavily upon physical props, mostly made of welded plastic – using hidden mechanics and combination locks and what not. Amazingly, as Mattel targets the mass market, all of these things come in a package that is sold at big box stores.  I’m always impressed at what the designers are able to provide me for the price point.

This newest adventure is actually two separate boxes. Kira’s Story (https://amzn.to/3cpOBW2) and Isabel’s Story (https://amzn.to/2Z0JwQS).  For a pretty reasonably $15 each, you get a 60 to 75 minute adventure in each.  Kira and Isabel were a time traveling duo until one day a rip in the space-time continuum separated them. Now, as one of the pair, your team must solve puzzles and fix this half of the time machine so you can reach out to the other and bring them back together again.


What this means is that each box is a fully standalone box with puzzles that will not be found in the other.  The other super-neat thing about these boxes is that going with the story above, one the two boxes are solved, you can unlock a third bonus game.  But, remember, Kira and Isabel are in different places in the space-time continuum, and thus, the teams representing them can also be apart!  This makes the bonus game great for playing remotely with other gamers anywhere else in the world!

We were sent one copy of each box, and we decided to test out the theory.  I kept Isabel’s story and I solved this at home with my wife one evening.  As I mentioned above, the puzzles in this box were of a nice variety, and I was pleased with the plastic props/machines included in the game.  We made it through our box in about 32 minutes and we did not require any hints – though later we did check out the hints provided on the webpage (https://www.mattel.com/en-us/escape-room-in-a-box/time-drifters ) and they seemed to be nicely set up with a number of different clues before you get to the solution.

Escape Room in a Box time drifters isabel stuff

Kira, on the other hand, went on a trip to Kansas.  Possibly in a tornado/twister, but more likely in a Tesla Model 3.  Two other Opinionated Gamers took their box with them on the road and solved the puzzles at charging stops (or maybe even while the car was driving itself…)   I’ll let James Nathan or John fill in the details here:

James Nathan: I drove, but we safely did most of our box at charging stops and a lunch stop when my involvement was needed. While driving, John did a few where he could describe the puzzle and I could provide some input without a lot of visual input needed from me.  There was one particular puzzle that was much more in my wheelhouse, and that we saved for lunch.  Overall, the car was not the best way to do it, as even at charging stops, there wasn’t much of the table space you sort of need.  Things went a bit better once we were safely at our lodging with a proper table to work from!

Escape Room in a Box time drifters kira stuff

That night, we met up over Zoom and had a really good time with the third adventure.  Without giving away any spoilers, we had a pretty fun time trying to work with the other team to get through the last battery of puzzles.  The third game was a little shorter than the full box games, but I’d say we got a nice 30 minute extra experience out of it – and it was pretty fun to do it over Zoom. 

I can definitely see this concept being used more in the future.  I think the design team did a great job at coming up with a set of puzzles that were meant to be done apart.  I mean, sure, you could buy both boxes and then work through the third adventure together – but honestly, it really was fun trying to communicate over the interwebs without being able to see what the other side was doing.

I can see this being a great thing for the holidays – buy the pair of boxes and give one to your kid going back to college.  And now, you have an excuse to meet up online for a half an hour and work through the third game.  It could also be nice to give it to relatives who came into town only for the holiday, and this could give you a chance to reconnect sometime later – as we all know, it’s hard to keep up all those promises of staying in better touch!

As always, the production values are great, and I was not disappointed at the bits for $15.  As with most of the Escape Room in a Box games, the actual puzzle difficulty is on the light side – but it’s clearly the right level of difficulty for the American Mass Market.  As with most of these types of games, you can only play once – but Mattel has been kind enough to provide a way to repack the game by reprinting puzzles so that you can share the adventure with someone else (or when you’re done with the joint game, you can take a look at all the puzzles in the half that you didn’t get to do!)

As with the other games in this series, I highly recommend this one, especially in this gift giving season where I think it could be a big hit.

Affiliate links: Kira’s Story (https://amzn.to/3cpOBW2) and Isabel’s Story (https://amzn.to/2Z0JwQS)

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

James Nathan: I talked about it a bit in my Age of Steam Con writeup, but I really like this series. Some series are getting a bit esoteric with their puzzles and a bit long in the tooth with their general approach.  This series, though, still fills me with delight. I don’t mind the puzzles being a bit on the easy side, as, well, if they aren’t going to be “just right”, I’d rather be able to make some progress.  In general, I would prefer less plastic in the physical componentry they are able to pull off, but for some of the tricks they’ve pulled, I’m not sure what else they could use.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale; James Nathan
  • I like it. John P
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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