“EXIT: The Game is a series of escape room games for the home. Players must solve riddles and puzzles and crack codes to escape from an imaginary room or environment. But the clock is ticking! Can you escape?”
I played “The Polar Station” and “The Forbidden Castle” with some friends prior to 2020. But when the pandemic hit, and I found myself at home with a lot of spare time, so I decided to make my way through this series as they were both fun and inexpensive. I played through them in difficulty order starting with “The House of Riddles” and finishing with the extra-large 4½-star difficulty game “The Catacombs of Horror”, which I completed on New Year’s Day.
Each game took about an hour or so to make it through, and they were consistently good. Looking back, my favorite games were the ones that twisted the concept away from the “Escape Room” concept, games like “Theft on the Mississippi” or “The Dead Man on the Orient Express”. Though, even for the more conventional chapters, I don’t think I could pick out a really weak one in the bunch.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with the series over the course of the year and am looking forward to the new chapters that they’ve announced for 2021. I’ll be reviewing them as I go through them.
Every game has a different theme and different story, and the game goes out of the way to incorporate the puzzles into the narrative. They’re not particularly thick narratives, mind you, but the effort is appreciated.
The story is told through a combination of the game book and answer cards. The game never takes itself too seriously, frequently injecting fun little moments and jokes into the proceedings. The story is written in the second person, helping immerse you in the story.
Each story is self-contained, so you can jump in with any chapter and not have to worry about continuity, though there are the occasional winks and nods to other stories, especially in the later games.
The signature mechanic of the game is the puzzle dial. Every puzzle in the game, when solved, will give you three numbers. Enter the three numbers into the dial, and it will point you towards a card in the answer deck which will then either lead you to the solution (if you’re correct) or towards a red ‘X’ if you’re wrong. It’s a simple yet effective method that prevents you from spoiling the actual answer if you guess wrong.
The puzzles were consistently inventive, and even after 18 installments the game found new ways to surprise and innovate. (It turns out there are a myriad of ways to discover three numbers!) The only issue I really had with the puzzles was that nearly every game featured some sort of color-based puzzle. As a red-green colorblind person, they were effectively unsolvable on my own. Other colorblind folks will want to play with someone who isn’t, or you can use the hint cards to skip those puzzles.
Speaking of, the hint system is well designed. Each puzzle comes with three hints cards and a solution card. The hints start with a gradual nudge and get more detailed the deeper you go. Most people should be able to solve even the toughest of puzzles with no more than two or three hints. But, if you still are stuck, the solution card will spell out how the puzzle is supposed to be solved. If you’re new to puzzle solving, this can help teach you the puzzle solving ropes.
The games come with a difficulty rating on the box, and I found them to be fairly accurate. The lower star difficulties are great onboarding activities for families with children or people new to puzzle solving. The later ones will challenge even an experienced enthusiast.
These games are a lot of fun and can often be found on sale for around $10, making them a great value. If you’re a puzzle enthusiast, don’t worry about the difficulty rating, all of the puzzles are solvable. If you’re looking for a good intro game for a younger child “The Enchanted Forest” is an excellent entry point.
- The Abandoned Cabin
- The Pharaoh’s Tomb
- The Secret Lab
- Dead Man on the Orient Express
- The Forbidden Castle
- The Polar Station
- The Forgotten Island
- The House of Riddles
- The Enchanted Forest
- The Sunken Treasure
- The Mysterious Museum
- The Sinister Mansion
- The Haunted Roller Coaster
- Theft on the Mississippi
- The Stormy Flight
- The Cemetery of the Knight
- The Enchanted Forest
- The Catacombs of Horror
Type of Game: At Home Puzzle Game
Date Played: 2020
Price: ~$15 per game
Team Size: 1-2