Exit: The Game – The Sacred Temple (with Jigsaws) [Hivemind Review]

The Sacred Temple is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game: Sacred Temple box art depicts a south east asian landscape.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game with jigsaw puzzle component

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A phone is not required, but there is an app with a timer and background sounds.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 2-3 hours

Price: about $25

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are on a quest to prevent a band of treasure hunters from stealing ancient artifacts from a sacred temple. To navigate to the temple, you must complete a series of jigsaw puzzles that not only reveal new locations on your journey but also provide clues and other tools to help you solve riddles along the way. For each riddle, you enter a 3-digit code into a decoder wheel. If the code is correct, you gain access to a new pamphlet and/ or jigsaw puzzle that provides additional narration and instructions for the next riddle.

4 sealed bags of puzzle pieces.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

The alternation of jigsaw puzzles and clue-based puzzles in this game introduced intriguing gameplay but also led to odd pacing and collaboration awkwardness. The four jigsaw puzzles were murky and sometimes nondescript, leading us to question our household lighting choices. Because the puzzles are small, it’s difficult to gather around them and collaborate, especially without blocking the light. It was also a jarring change of pace to jigsaw then solve, jigsaw then solve, a pattern that interrupted the momentum of the game at times. Finally, a significant portion of the game is jigsawing, so if that’s not really your thing, there’s more than you will likely enjoy.

Aside from what you think about the jigsaw puzzles as jigsaw puzzles, they do open up a new world of game mechanics for a series that already prides itself on using game pieces in unexpected ways. I enjoyed experimenting with solutions here. However, I found that some of the more difficult aha moments were early in the game when I had less awareness of the possibilities. This not only deprived us of the joy of discovery as we relied on hints but also led to overthinking later puzzles. Additionally, one early puzzle led us to hyperfocus on a number of red herrings later in the game, and the last puzzle was fairly anticlimactic. Individually, the puzzles were interesting enough, so a different ordering might have been a better onramping experience.

Even though I thought there was a lot to improve upon here, this format still shows potential. Inasmuch as the jigsaw puzzles are used for creative purposes, they add a fun new dimension to the Exit: The Game series that I’m excited about. When they’re just a different medium for presenting clues, they mostly slow down the game without much benefit. I look forward to seeing how later games will refine this balance.

Assorted game components including a paper snake and a solution wheel.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Sacred Temple brings completely new mechanics to the well-regarded Exit: The Game series. Instead of the regular items we are used to seeing, four jigsaw puzzles and a new riddle and hint system are now the star components of the game. As we’ve come to expect with Exit: The Game installments, the props are integrated in unusual ways, and the thematic jigsaws result in a multi-level puzzling experience. I did find a few of the game elements hard to see due to the dark images, leading to a few “pixel hunt” situations I had to resolve with hints. The pacing of the game was unusually strong, as each jigsaw introduces a new dramatic situation for you to confront. There is a lot of story in The Sacred Temple and the excitement builds as you make your way through the jungle adventure (although it ends rather abruptly). I really enjoy playing Exit: The Game installments and it is refreshing to see them exploring off the beaten path.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

The Sacred Temple is a perfect fit for groups of 2-4 people who are natural jigsaw puzzlers, adding in a fun dimension to the Exit: The Games series. While navigating an island to search for a professor, we came across four distinct locations to explore, each represented by a different jigsaw puzzle to assemble. This new format allowed the creators to introduce refreshingly new gameplay dynamics that would not be possible with the use of cards alone. There is also a new, streamlined answer-check feature that I hope will be adopted across the Exit: The Games series as a whole. Fair warning to those who did not realize that they rely on reference pictures to assemble jigsaws: it can be a humbling experience and it might be wise to break this game up into two sessions.

Puzzle pamphlets that look like leather journals with geometric symbols laid on a table.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Sacred Temple took the format we know and love from the Exit: The Game series and implemented it pretty flawlessly into four jigsaw puzzles and some strange objects. The jigsaw puzzles do a great job at portraying the story through showing detailed visuals that follow along with the small clue pamphlets (that replace the storybook from normal Exit: The Game installments.)

In terms of puzzles, this may have been one of the stronger installments in the Exit: The Game series. The puzzles weren’t difficult, but they were all satisfying to solve. Exit: The Game was able to design so many tangible puzzles that weren’t just paper-based and truly used the medium to the utmost extent. This game would be pretty easy to reset if you wanted to hand it off to someone else, assuming they don’t mind that you cut one or two things! I’m really looking forward to playing more of these jigsaw puzzle Exit: The Game installments, as they are filled with so many new ideas and mechanics!

David Spira’s Reaction

This was a regular installment of Exit: The Game, but they’d removed a few journal pages and turned them into jigsaw puzzles.

I generally enjoy the Exit: The Game series and I am an avid jigsaw puzzler. Thus Exit: The Game with jigsaw puzzles is not something that I’m going to argue with. The price was increased, but so was the playtime.

From an execution standpoint, the puzzles felt well tested, and played like a strong installment of the series.

My knock against The Sacred Temple is in the jigsaw puzzle design. Jigsaw puzzles are a unique art, and a lot goes into getting the coloration, textures, patterns, and depth correct so that the puzzle is engaging. Some of the jigsaw puzzles in The Sacred Temple got there, but not all of them.

I’m excited to see Exit: The Game opening up new design space, and eager to see where they take this new format.

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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