Escape from the Starline Express by Alessandro Deriu, published by Professor Puzzle in 2019.
I bought a used copy myself, because this was a new escape room game series for me – I’ve never tried one of these before.
Elevator pitch: An escape room puzzle game where you hunt down diamond thiefs in a 1920s train from London to Paris.
What’s in the box? The box flips open to reveal an array of envelopes depicting train cars. Some are bulky, some are thinner, but you’re not allowed to open them for now.
Everything looks nice. Nothing spectacular, everything is very much in the standard style of escape room games. Escape the Room games seem like the closest comparison here.
What do you do in the game? The short sheet of instructions explains how to start the game and then your task is to figure out which envelope you should open next. Each envelope has a puzzle with a solution that points to the next envelope.
The puzzles offer a variety of fairly typical escape room puzzles. Escape from the Starline Express is strictly a linear game – you’re railroaded through the puzzles, one by one, until you reach the end. This makes it an easy game, on the level of the easiest Exit: The Game games, and at times makes solving the puzzles a bit too easy (when you have one numbered carriage left, it’s pretty obvious the solution will be the number of that one carriage).
Lucky or skillful? No luck involved, everything is up to your wits.
Abstract or thematic? The theme is just background narrative and decoration. The story makes no sense, so in that regard this is just like any other escape room game.
Solitaire or interactive? I prefer escape rooms with fewer players, but having more than one set of eyes looking at things is always good.
Players: 2–8. Most puzzles have duplicate sets of components, which is really good – it makes two-player games more fun and supports bigger player counts, too. Since this is a linear one-puzzle-at-a-time affair, there isn’t much to do for players, so I’d say 2–5 is more realistic player count range.
Who can play? The publisher age recommendation is 12+. You’re probably going to need adults in the game as well, but the game works as a family game.
What’s to like: This is a solid easy escape room game: nothing spectacular, nothing challenging enough for the pros, but a nice theme, nice components and some fun puzzles (I particularly liked the identification card puzzle).
What’s not to like: If you’re an experienced puzzle solver, this is going to be way too easy. I also prefer the non-linear games, as they give the added challenge of figuring out where to go.
My verdict: I paid 15 euros for my used copy of the game, and I think it’s fairly realistic to expect I can sell this for 10–15 euros. At that price point, sure, I’ll give a new escape room game a go. Now that I’ve played this, though, I’m not particularly interested in playing the Escape from the Grand Hotel, another game from the same company with a similar linear structure.
If you prefer the easier games with linear structures and fairly straightforward puzzles, Escape from the Starline Express is a fine choice. It reminds me of Escape the Room series of games, which I slightly prefer over this.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Escape from the Starline Express gets Indifferent from me.