Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle [Review]

“It’s just a flesh wound!”

Location: at home

Date Played: May 24, 2018

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60-120 minutes

Price: $13 to 20 per game

REA Reaction

The Forbidden Castle followed the format we’ve come to expect from Exit: The Game, with some added twists. It offered more challenge than the original releases from Exit: The Game and these were generally fair and fun. It built toward a silly conclusion, but also a culmination that felt bigger than the sum of its card-stock parts.

If you’re a fan of Exit: The Game, this one is absolutely worth playing.

If you’ve never played Exit: The Game, I’d strongly encourage you to start with one or two of their earlier installments.

If you aren’t a fan of Exit: The Game, I wouldn’t expect this one to suddenly convert you.

Exit The Game: The Forbidden Castle box being held over assorted game components.

Who is this for?

  • Tabletop gamers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience
  • People who are fans of the Exit: The Game series

Why play?

  • This is our new favorite from the Exit: The Game series
  • Clever puzzles
  • A silly, but fun final puzzle
  • Low cost

Story

The Forbidden Castle was structured as a direct sequel to The Abandoned Cabin. While on vacation, our imprisonment-prone family entered an old castle and suddenly realized that we were locked in by an unseen villain who had left a series of clues and puzzles that could lead us to our freedom, if we were cunning enough.

Exit The Game: The Forbidden Castle's booklet and decoder wheel.

Setup

The Forbidden Castle functioned identically to Exit: The Game’s previous installments.

The series is puzzle focused, with a light touch story, and destructible components.

The components were all paper-based, including decks of cards, printed booklets, and card-stock “strange items.” If you are unfamiliar with the basic operation of this series, check out our review of their first three titles:

Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin, The Secret Lab, & The Pharaoh’s Tomb [Review]

Gameplay

Exit: The Game’s The Forbidden Castle was a puzzle-driven escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Exit The Game: The Forbidden Castle's knight being held over assorted game components.

Analysis

+ The first few puzzles had a good difficulty curve.

+ Overall we loved the collection of puzzles that we encountered in The Forbidden Castle.

– One puzzle was too ambiguous and hinged on an unusual combination of observation and trust. Conceptually, this puzzle was brilliant. In practice, the execution was too opaque.

The Forbidden Castle’s components were physically small, but a few of the puzzles felt much bigger.

– One of the puzzles was answerable without actually solving the puzzle.

The Forbidden Castle used the same decoder disk answer system as all of the other Exit: The Game installments. However, in this one, they added a good twist.

+ The final puzzle was a lot of fun and a touch silly, which added to its charm.

– One of the “strange objects” was a sword. We needed to trim this sword to make the puzzle work properly. Admittedly, this was a minor issue in a game where we were regularly taking scissors to the components.

The Forbidden Castle's sword with a sliver of card stock cut off beside a pair of scissors.

– There was a decision point in The Forbidden Castle. The team essentially had to choose blindly between two different puzzles. Solving one puzzle destroyed the other, which was a bummer. We backtracked post-game and sort of figured out the other one, but we didn’t love trashing a puzzle, especially without any context guiding the decision.

+/- If you’re already a fan of Exit: The Game, then this offered more of the gameplay that we’ve come to expect from the series. If you don’t find the series enjoyable, I don’t think that this new installment will dramatically change your opinion.

Tips for Playing

  • You’ll need a pair of scissors.
  • Do not discard the box or any game materials until after you have finished playing.
  • It isn’t possible to replay this game without going to great lengths to copy and preserve destructible materials. You can do it, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

Pickup a copy of Exit: The Game’s The Forbidden Castle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Full disclosure: Thames & Kosmos sent us a complementary reviewer’s copy of this game.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.)

 

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