Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-2

Price: $14.99

Night at the Museum

Theme:

From the Thames and Kosmos website:

A classic tale of murder on the Orient Express, reimagined. The culprit of a grisly crime is still on board your train. It’s a race against time to piece the clues together before the train reaches its destination. The case is perplexing, and you must solve it quickly so the assailant does not escape.

First Impressions:

Exit: The Game is such a great series of at home escape games, and years after diving into the many at home escape series that are available from your friendly local game store, it remains my favorite to crack open and play. It doesn’t hurt that this one is based off the work of my favorite mystery author, Agatha Christie! Of course, after Unlock’s ill-designed Scheherazade’s Last Tale, I made sure to keep my expectations tempered, just in case.

High Points:

There was no need to temper my expectations, as this game easily blew them out of the water! Taking heavy inspiration, but not ripping off, the Agatha Christie classic, Murder on the Orient Express, this game packs a lot of great nods to the source material in while remaining it’s own experience. Another thing this adventure is chock full of is clever puzzles and interactions. Though the usual ten are set up via the puzzle dial, there is an overarching meta puzzle that you’ll need to solve to truly catch the murderer, so a keen eye and attention to the many details placed within the game will be required in order to reach the best ending. This excellently added sleuthing portion really ratcheted up the fun and intensity of the experience, as well as the story. Although older Exit games tended to focus more on puzzles rather than storylines, these most recent entries have definitely stepped up the quality of the mysterious stories while ensuring the puzzle quality stays high!

The experience is fairly linear, but this is not a bad thing as it allows a small group to stay focused on the task and clues at hand, while gating the story fantastically. Clues that belong to the overall murder mystery as well as the individual puzzles will need to be identified and sorted out as you go, and everything is meted out more effectively in this linear manner. New rooms and items are presented excellently, ensuring that each new step deeper into the investigation remains integrated into its place in the story. Further, the move from just opening new journal pages to revealing all new rooms after most solves makes each successful interaction all the more satisfying. Every puzzle is wonderfully tactile, and Exit continues to find glorious ways to integrate interactions into the most unlikely places while still ensuring that each enigma is intuitive and well balanced. The difficulty of this game is higher than most Exit boxes, but it never felt unfair, ensuring that each and every solve provided some superb moments of revelation. The game also serves a wide range of puzzle types, which will engage and satisfy all members of the team, allowing everyone a moment to shine. The climactic puzzle is involved and very satisfying to solve, and depending on your answer, can lead to one of two different conclusions, offering a great finale to an amazing at home escape adventure!

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Diamonds, Cryptic Wheels, and Prescient Help Cards that will help you bust the case wide open!

Low Points:

I have no real complaints. One puzzle can be easily circumvented with what I believe to be a completely valid work around, but it didn’t feel like a let down, and we solved the puzzle we were missing as well, so the experience wasn’t diminished.

Verdict:

Dead Man on the Orient Express is easily my favorite new mystery from Exit: The Game, and I certainly recommend giving it a shot! Only one caveat, however, as though this is absolutely the best entry into the Exit series, it’s definitely one of the most challenging as well, so I wouldn’t recommend starting out with it. Pick it up along with one of the easier entries so you can get a handle on how the games tend to work first, but absolutely get this one as well. Buy your copy from your friendly local game store today! We recommend checking out Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Exit: The Game – The Mysterious Museum (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-2

Price: $14.99

Night at the Museum

Theme:

From the Thames and Kosmos website:

You are on a trip to the Florence Natural History Museum, intent on visiting the sunken treasure of the Santa Maria. Your relaxing day at the museum is quickly derailed by an incredible adventure! Can you solve the mysteries of the museum and find a way out?

First Impressions:

Leading off from where The Sunken Treasure left off, it’s time to visit the museum to have a look at the treasures we recovered! In pure Exit The Game fashion, however, a shady figure has arrived to make sure our adventures in Florence are much more interesting. As the Exit The Game series continues to innovate, it’s great to see that the stories are starting to intertwine, even slightly, so though this was the box I was the least interested in, it turns out that the game inside is easily a favorite.

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It’s always pleasantly surprising how much puzzling Exit: The Game contains in such a small box!

High Points:

Like The Sunken Treasure, The Mysterious Museum is a story based, linear experience. While linearity can be a problem in escape rooms, I find that the more intimate experience of an at home game really lends itself to telling the story this way. It also allows for the most surprising and crazily themed twist of any Exit game to pop off early and take us on a much wilder ride that we initially expected! Though completely linear, the puzzles require teamwork, as well as a variety of solving styles, as the interactions are quite varied. This is one of the easier games on offer from Exit, but it’s still a fun challenge, and several puzzles are simple on their face, but throw a curve ball to players in order to keep things from being too easy.

The game flow is excellent, as always, and the blend of mental challenges with the tactile and ever mysterious props brings a sense of immersion to the game as well. Our favorite puzzles were perfectly integrated into the game materials, with a couple hiding in plain sight from the start, and one a continuation of Exit’s supremely excellent inclusion of clues where you’d least expect them. The storyline is rather enjoyable, and it’s great to see the designers are willing to include a great twist early on that expands the game so much! It was definitely not what I expected from this theme and game, and the pay off works extremely well. The climax is enormously satisfying, and adds a wink and a nod that I think serves as a fun send off.

Low Points:

One puzzle in particular relies on somewhat colloquial outside knowledge, which is more forgivable in a game like this where the timer doesn’t really matter all that much, but it could still be a frustration for some. For others, it’ll be a fairly juvenile puzzle in a game usually directed towards teens and adults. There’s another puzzle which I loved, but had some background in, which, looking back, may present some difficulty due to a small lack of cluing on how to ensure the item itself activates.

Verdict:

The Mysterious Museum is supremely entertaining, and I highly recommend this one as a starting point for new players. As one of the most approachable Exit games available, it really teaches players how to solve its mysteries intuitively. Exit experts will still enjoy the lighter, but still engaging challenge and story presented by this game, as there are still some original conundrums to solve herein. Buy your copy from your friendly local game store today! We recommend checking out Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Exit: The Game – The Sinister Mansion (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-2

Price: $14.99

Guess who’s back, back again?

Theme:

From the Thames and Kosmos website:

You are invited to be a guest at a palatial mansion, but upon arrival, you find yourselves forced to take part in a macabre game. The clock is ticking, and there is not much time left to solve the puzzles. Can you escape the mansion before it’s too late?

First Impressions:

Exit: The Game is easily my favorite at home escape game series, as none of their products have yet to disappoint. When I bought the newest set of games, none excited me quite as much as The Sinister Mansion, as I can’t resist an old, spooky, possibly haunted setting!

High Points:

Exit games always appear to have only a few props, but explode into giant adventures as you progress, and The Sinister Mansion is no exception. Utilizing almost every item in the box in increasingly clever ways, there is much more than meets the eye to this game. Per usual, the mystery involves around ten puzzles of varying difficulty, and for the most part, each one is clearly solvable using the items as presented, though some may take a fair bit more pondering than others. The initial puzzle is a great start, and provides a perfect moment of revelation as part of the solve, without being so simplistic that it feels like a gimme. From there, the puzzles continue to be fairly devious, challenging the players to think outside the box during every step of the way. The game flow is astounding, and involves a lot of tactile steps, keeping everyone engaged with the mystery. Though it is linear, at points, we had to ensure we knew what exactly we needed to be working on at any given time, adding to the challenge as we parsed through what we had been given.

While the storyline isn’t quite at the forefront as in The Sunken Treasure, this game is a sequel to previous games, The Abandoned Cabin and The Forbidden Castle. While those are not required to play this game, I recommend giving those a try first to keep chronology in order. (And they’re great fun to boot!) However, if you decide to Tarantino the storyline, you won’t miss anything super important. There are also nice little callbacks to other Exit games, and it’s always fun to think back to previous adventures. The revelation about your mysterious captor is an enjoyable payoff to years of Exit games, and keeping with tradition, the adventure ends on another cliffhanger that teases another sequel!

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Your ever spooky captor has given you another set of props! He’s too kind.

Low Points:

One early stage puzzle doesn’t quite give enough hints to remove the guess and check elements from the game, requiring us to fiddle around to figure out which answer is the most correct. This feels like either a puzzle that hasn’t been tested quite enough, or a cheap way to pad the play time. For new players, there’s also fairly little to clue one into some of the more eccentric ways an Exit game is tackled, so this may end up being much more difficult for folks who aren’t used to the way these games are played. Playing through an earlier game or two should alleviate this problem, but the barrier to entry is a mite bit higher than usual for The Sinister Mansion. Finally, the linearity of play may limit how many players you’ll want to have around the table, and since this experience can only be played once, that could diminish the value for people that like to play with a larger group.

Verdict:

The Sinister Mansion is a great addition to the Exit series, and I look forward to meeting the evil escape room master behind these stories again soon! Veterans of the Exit series will absolutely love this entry, though newer players should be warned that this one does rely on a fair familiarity with some of the more unconventional solving methods of Exit games, so a run with another game might be helpful. Buy your copy from your friendly local game store today! We recommend checking out Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Exit: The Game – The Sunken Treasure (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-2

Price: $14.99

Treasure in the Waters

Theme:

From the Thames and Kosmos website:

Setting sail for dangerous waters, you embark on a treacherous quest for the legendary treasure of the Santa Maria. While investigating a mysterious shipwreck, something goes terribly wrong and you are trapped deep underwater! Can you solve the riddles of the wreck and recover the treasure before your time is up?

First Impressions:

I’ve always loved Exit: The Game’s highly interactive puzzles, and it’s actually pretty surprising I haven’t gotten around to reviewing their products just yet. When the newest set of games arrived, however, I knew I’d have to work it into the review schedule! The Sunken Treasure seemed right up my alley, boasting a nautical theme and interesting box art, so we started the next run of Exit games there.

High Points:

As always with Exit games, The Sunken Treasure had loads of really stand out moments that took us by surprise! At first, I thought there were relatively few props and wasn’t sure how involved this experience would be, but I was glad to see that this game continued to hold to the standard of using absolutely every prop to it’s fullest to deliver an extremely tactile game. Even though this was my seventh foray into the Exit universe, and I had an idea of what to expect, I found that many of the revelations included within the box were still cleverly hidden from perceptive players. A more beginner level experience, we still found some puzzles to be challenging, but the simpler ones were still a fun solve, with several leading us to exclaim how clever we found the puzzle to be. The game also didn’t disappoint content wise, as it still took us a good 56 minutes to complete, longer than some great escape rooms we’ve broken out of!

This was the first Exit game we’d played that was a one hundred percent linear experience, and while that could serve to bottleneck everything, I felt that linearity served this particular experience well. Though you cannot jump between puzzles, the overall experience isn’t obtuse at all, and each step just takes some thought and a fair measure of outside, (and sometimes inside,) the box thinking. The experience held tighter to the storyline than some other Exit games have, and the linear nature really helped make sure that each step progressed the story as well as the game flow. Tight is one word that can absolutely describe the experience playing The Sunken Treasure, and not in the 90’s sense. Each facet of the game feels like it has been tested to ensure that the puzzles, logical flow, and story are tightly crafted and serve to keep the adventure trucking along nicely. Though there were points we needed to stop and think, or set up a solution, we never felt as though we had become mired or thrust into tedium.

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So much puzzling treasure is hidden within these few props!

Low Points:

The linear nature of the game does mean that it cannot handle more than two players especially well. Those with a lot of experience will want to cap things at two, definitely, and newer players may find they have more fun and will get to be more involved with fewer players as well. A particular puzzle becomes somewhat more difficult due to the vague and possibly misleading wording, but on the whole the experience does not stray from the tighter logic presented in the rest of the enigmas. The game itself is a lot easier than other Exit games, and while this isn’t really that bad of a thing, veteran players may feel they’re being led by the hand a bit too much.

Verdict:

A simpler adventure, I still recommend that anyone interested in Exit: The Game try out The Sunken Treasure. Newcomers will get an awesome and tightly plotted introduction to the game series, and long time players will find a lot of new and engaging content to enjoy within the box. You can pick this one up from your friendly local games store now! We recommend checking out Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!

8.5/10 (Great)