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Escape Your Family This Thanksgiving with These Escape Games

Escape Your Family This Thanksgiving with These Escape Games

This time of year, it can be overwhelming to be around so much family. It’s not because you don’t like your family. Maybe you’ve gotten used to your family in small doses, or maybe you have that one creepy uncle that never fails to make family get-togethers awkward.

Whichever stereotype you fall into this holiday season, take a break and play one of these games that are all about “getting away.” Perhaps you’ll discover that there are worse things to escape from than Aunt Mildred pinching your cheeks!

Cartagena: The Escape

Time Away from Family: 30-45 minutes

Family Escape - Cartagena

Nothing screams ‘escape’ like a good prison break, and there are no better masters of getting away than pirates. Cartagena: The Escape, has both! This game has players taking on the roles of pirate crews breaking out of jail by winding their way through one of the tunnels below Cartagena and escaping by sea on a sloop.

Each turn, either play a card from your hand and move one of your pirates to the next spot in the tunnel that matches your card’s symbol or move one of your pirates back to a location in the tunnel with one or two other pirates and draw a card or two. The goal is to get all of your pirates through the tunnel before any other player.

The simplicity of this game (despite the very real challenge of executing a winning strategy) makes this an awesome game to bring to family gatherings, regardless of the age of the players!

Forbidden Desert

Time Away from Family: 1 hour

While searching for an ancient flying machine, you and your colleagues have crash landed in the desert. Stranded and battered by a sandstorm, you must endure the elements and recover the parts of this legendary craft if you wish to escape with your lives!

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative board game that has you maneuvering through a sandstorm, removing sand from tiles, rationing water, and sharing equipment, all while also trying to rebuild a flying ship that is your only hope of escape. When you win, you will feel like you really had to work together as a team to earn it. This can make a great family bonding experience!

Want another 40 minutes of peace and quiet with your family? Plop them down and watch the TableTop episode of Forbidden Island starring Wil, Felicia, Alan Tudyk, and Jon Heder.

Level 7 [Escape]

Time Away from Family: 1 hour

Family Escape - Level 7

You have been abducted and are now a prisoner in a military laboratory. There are others like you in the room, disoriented but knowing full well that if you do not escape, you will be a victim of all kinds of gruesome experimentation. You don’t know the way out but perhaps with the help of the others you can escape this hellish prison before the guards… and other, darker things… catch you.

In Level 7 [Escape] you must move from room to room trying to find the elevator that will take you to freedom. Along the way, there will be various challenges such as guards, locked doors, cameras, and even aliens that you will need to either avoid or overcome. Your ability to do so will rely on help from others trapped with you and your ability to manage your own fear. When you finally discover the exit you must also choose to stay back and help your allies or leave them to fend for themselves!


Time Away from Family: 15-30 minutes

Family Escape - Onirim

If you really need to get away from it all, even your usual gaming crew, then Onirim is just the game for you. It’s a single-player card game that drops you into a labyrinthine dream world full of colorful rooms, mysterious symbols, and ghostly nightmares. You must play cards of matching colors, but differing symbols to unlock the doors in this maze. Your goal us to unlock all eight doors before the nightmare cards trap you in your dream forever!

The basic game also comes with several expansions and a 2-player variant so if you need some more time to yourself or want to give someone else a reprieve from family-time you can get it with this game.

Tragedy Looper

Time Away from Family: 2 hours

Family Escape - Tragedy Looper

You and your friends have been trapped in time to relive an awful tragedy planned by an evil mastermind. Your only escape is to put together the pieces of this terrible puzzle as they unfold again and again, in hopes that you can stop them from happening once and for all.

In Tragedy Looper, one player becomes the mastermind, the evil character who orchestrates all of the events leading up to and including the tragedy (a murder, suicide, etc.). The remaining players can also influence the events, and they must observe how their influence affects the outcome so they can prevent the tragedy. If they stop it from happening even once, then they break free of the loop and win the game.

The basic mechanics of Tragedy Looper are simple: everyone plays cards, the Mastermind resolves them, the effects are observed, and time moves a closer to the end of the loop. When the loop ends, everything starts over again. Eventually, the players will run out of loops. But like an RPG, these simple rules are applied in imaginative ways that have all sorts of intended and unintended consequences. When you play this one, plan on committing yourself wholeheartedly.


Time Away from Family: 1 hour

Family Escape - Zombies

With a name like Zombies!!!, it’s pretty clear what you’re trying to escape from: lots and lots of zombies! And when I say lots, I mean LOTS. This game comes with 100 zombie figures and besides getting to the helipad first, you can also win by gunning down 25 of those walking corpses. Watch your health and conserve bullets though, because you only get so much.

If scrambling through city blocks isn’t your shtick, there are also lots and lots of editions of this game. Want to escape a zombie carnival full of undead clowns? There’s a version for that. Want to escape a mall? A school? Or outrun a pack of zombie dogs? Pack of kids? Oh, there’s a junior version too. And a card game. And a dice game. And if you still want more, you can even be the zombies in the Humans!!! series or fight aliens in the Martians!!! series.

What games do you play when you need to get away?

Image Credits: Rio Grande Games (Cartagena), Gamewright (Forbidden Desert), Privateer Press (Level 7 [Escape]), Z-Man Games (Onirim, Tragedy Looper), Twilight Creations (Zombies!!!)

Feature Image Credit: Twilight Creations

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