Exit The Game – The Sunken Treasure [Review]

SCUBA puzzle adventure!

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 11, 2018

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $10

Publisher: KOSMOS

REA Reaction

One small change can greatly impact how a game feels. The Sunken Treasure had entirely linear gameplay. This departure from Exit The Game’s semi-linear approach to tabletop escape game design created a smooth and calm puzzling experience. I found it pleasurable. 

We never wondered whether we were working on the right puzzle, or one where we had all of the components. We knocked out the challenges as The Sunken Treasure served them up. This enabled us to focus on the story and play with confidence.

While linearity worked well here, this isn’t an endorsement of linear play-at-home gameplay across the board. As with most design decisions, it’s situational.

The Sunken Treasure is one of the easiest Exit The Game installments that we’ve encountered. This didn’t bother us at all; we rather enjoyed the calmer seas. 

If you’re a fan of Exit The Game, this is one of the must-play chapters. If you’ve never played before, this should be your first. 

Sunken Treasure's box art features a sunken tall ship.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Smooth linear gameplay
  • Tangible puzzles
  • An approachable difficulty curve

Story

We set off in search of the legendary treasure of the Santa Maria. You’ll be shocked to learn that we did, in fact, find it .

The sunken treasure journal, decoder wheel, and an assortment of small components.

Setup

The Sunken Treasure followed the same destructible paper-puzzle structure that I explained in our first batch of Exit The Game reviews, but with one significant difference. For the sake of brevity, you can read about the structure in our original review: 

Unlike in the others, however, the gameplay in The Sunken Treasure was entirely linear. It presented the puzzles one at a time. Solving each one advanced the story and provided us another complete puzzle. This small change significantly – and in my opinion, positively – impacted the play. 

An old gold coin and 6 gems of different colors.

Gameplay

Exit The Game’s The Sunken Treasure was a linear play-at-home escape game with an approachable level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Stacks of riddle, answer, and help cards.

Analysis

➕ The linear gameplay removed ambiguity. This was the first Exit The Game that we’ve played where we never found ourselves attempting to solve a puzzle before we had all its components. We never once missed that added challenge. 

➕ As the story progressed, the puzzles ramped up along a comfortable difficulty curve. 

➕ With one exception the puzzles felt fair and solved cleanly. 

➖ One puzzle had us in the weeds trying to figure out what we were supposed to see. In the end we got the correct answer for the wrong reason. We never would have even noticed if I didn’t make a habit of checking the hint cards at the end of each puzzle to verify that we had approached it properly. 

An assortment of help cards.

➖ While we didn’t really need it, the hinting wasn’t granular enough. Should you need a hint on one of the more complex puzzles, you’re likely going to get more of a push than you’ll want or need. Exit the Game could smooth this over by adding a few extra hint cards to the more complex puzzles. 

➕ We adored the tangible interactions in The Sunken Treasure. They exceeded my expectations, based on my experience with previous Exit The Game tangible puzzles. 👍

❓ This felt like the easiest Exit The Game that we’ve played to date. I didn’t mind at all. In fact, I liked it. Your feelings may differ on this subject. 

Tips For Playing

  • Space Requirements: minimal, a small table or floorspace will suffice
  • Required Gear: paper, pencil, and scissors.

Buy your copy of Exit The Game’s Sunken Treasure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: KOSMOS provided a sample for review. 

(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. We appreciate the support.)

Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express [Review]

“My name is Achilles Pussot and I am probably the second greatest detective in the world.”

Location: at home

Date Played: September 13, 2018

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 1-2 hours

Price: $15 per box

REA Reaction

As a fan of the Exit: The Game series, Dead Man on the Orient Express has been one of my favorite installments. I enjoyed the puzzles and the way the difficulty mounted to an especially challenging final puzzle. This game deviated from some of the predictability of the past games.

At the same time, Dead Man on the Orient Express will not change anyone’s opinions on the series… and I’m hoping the creators will break more significantly from their patterns.

If you’re a fan of Exit: The Game, this is a must-buy. It’s one of their stronger installments. If you don’t like the series already, take a pass. If you’ve never played, I’d suggest getting started on one of their earlier games, as this one is tough.

Game box for Dead Man on the Orient Express, depicts a spilled wine glass in a fancy train compartment.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Logic puzzlers
  • Players with at least some experience with the Exit: The Game series

Why play?

  • Some of the cleverest puzzles we’ve seen from Exit: The Game
  • A fair difficulty curve
  • A higher level of difficulty

Story

Based not so loosely on the Agatha Christie classic Murder on the Orient ExpressDead Man on the Orient Express cast us in the role of world-famous detective, Achilles Pussot. A man had been killed on the train and there were eight suspects. We needed to identify the killer before the train reached its destination in Constantinople.

The riddle cards, answer cards, and help cards decks.

Setup

Dead Man on the Orient Express was structurally identical to all of the previous Exit: The Game installments that we have reviewed.

This was a paper-based game with a booklet, a few decks of cards, a solution wheel, and a pair of card stock “strange items.”

Exit: The Game installments are destructible. I’m sure it would be possible to preserve the game for replay by other players, but I don’t think it would be worth the effort.

For a more in-depth explanation of the game mechanics of the Exit: The Game series, give our original review a read:

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

Gameplay

Exit: The Game’s Dead Man on the Orient Express was a typical play-at-home escape game with a murder mystery twist.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, detailed observation, deduction, and puzzling.

The notebook of Achilles Pussot, an answer wheel, and three train compartment components.

Analysis

+ The puzzles in Dead Man on the Orient Express were generally satisfying. They had a comfortable difficulty curve and became pretty challenging.

+ This game captured the Agatha Christie murder mystery vibe while keeping the gameplay firmly in puzzle-game territory. We were puzzlers, not detectives.

– Because so much of the game was in a booklet, the gameplay bottlenecked. The cabin cards and puzzle cards helped to distribute the gameplay, but the booklet still boxed players out of the fun. (Teams of 1 or 2 people won’t have this issue.)

? The final logic puzzle was especially challenging. We were impressed with the twist on traditional logic puzzling cluing. This puzzle also required an attention to detail that exceeded the level of commitment that we were mentally prepared for. If you haven’t paid attention throughout the entire gameplay, this will be brutal. In our opinion, this was the most complicated puzzle that we’ve seen from the series. Whether this is great or terrible is up to you.

– The final puzzle hinged on some details that were a little too difficult to perceive with confidence. This was on-theme for the material, but also felt a little unfair.

+ The art and style of Dead Man on the Orient Express was consistent and elegant.

– Speaking as a fan of the Exit: The Game series, I respect that they deviate slightly from their formula in each game. With 9 installments in-market, however, I find myself wishing that they would change things up a lot more.

+ The hint system was useful and predictable. I would like a bit more granularity, but Exit: The Game’s hint system is still the most comprehensive of the multi-installment series released by large game publishers.

Tips for Playing

  • You have to destroy the components to play this game. Embrace it.
  • The train cabin components are double sided. Be aware of that.
  • The final puzzle was, in our opinion, the toughest puzzle in the Exit: The Game series. Take that one seriously.

Pickup your copy of Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Thames & Kosmos provided a sample for review.

(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.)

Exit: The Game – The Polar Station [Review]

Alien on the rocks.

Location: at home

Date Played: May 21, 2018

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

Duration: 60-120 minutes

Price: $13 to 20 per game

REA Reaction

While we’ve generally enjoyed Exit: The Game’s boxed escape room series, The Polar Station didn’t totally click with us. It had some of the coolest tangible puzzles and it leaned into the destructible nature of the series, but it felt like these puzzles were often missing a bit of clue structure. Because of the gaps in the hint system, we’d have to reach for solutions.

I loved the ideas that Exit: The Game played with in this installment, but I have to recommend their other boxes ahead of this one.

Exit The Game: The Polar Station box 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?

  • Clever puzzles.
  • Mass component destruction. This Exit: The Game is particularly destructible.
  • Low cost

Story

Our Arctic research lab had gone into lockdown. We had to determine what had triggered the lockdown and escape before our lab became our grave.

Setup

The Polar Station functioned identically to Exit: The Game’s previous installments.

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

The components are 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 Polar Station was a puzzle-driven escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ In Exit: The Game boxed escape rooms, every detail mattered. The Polar Station was no exception.

? We found the puzzles in The Polar Station to be more challenging than in the other installments from Exit: The Game. We struggled to reach a lot of aha moments. Some of these may have been us underperforming. However…

– … Many of the puzzles lacked adequate cluing. We’d be on the right track, but missing a crucial detail that wasn’t really there for us to uncover.

– … This revealed a limitation of Exit: The Game’s 3-tiered hint system. For more complex puzzles, the hints jumped straight from basic observations to the solution. The hints provided all the information we’d already gleaned from the puzzle… and then the solution. Looking back at other games in the series, I think that the more complex puzzles deserve a 4th hint card to help players who have almost solved the puzzle.

– The “strange objects” didn’t really warrant their hype. There wasn’t any reason these components needed to be put on a pedestal.

The Polar Station asked us to think outside the box. Having played the earlier games by Exit: The Game, we saw this coming, but The Polar Station still delivered a satisfying aha moment.

+/- 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

  • Make sure that you have a pair of scissors handy.
  • More than in other Exit: The Game installments, an X-ACTO knife and cutting surface help a lot. It’s not a requirement, but I highly recommend having them on hand.
  • 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, especially for The Polar Station.

Pickup a copy of Exit: The Game’s The Polar Station, 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.)

Exit: The Game – The Forgotten Island [Review]

WILSON!

Location: at home

Date Played: May 26, 2018

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

Duration: 60-120 minutes

Price: $13 to 20 per game

REA Reaction

The Forgotten Island was a standard Exit: The Game installment. If you’ve played any of the originals, you’ll be familiar with the structure, vibe, and tricks. This particular installment had a number of especially clever puzzles mixed throughout it and a few that felt like they could benefit from additional clue structure and maybe a bit of editing.

If that puts a smile on your face, you should buy it. If you don’t like the series, this one will not change your mind.

The tropical island cover of Exit: The Game's The Forgotten Island.

Who is this for?

  • Tabletop gamers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • People who are fans of the Exit: The Game series

Why play?

  • Clever puzzles
  • Affordable tabletop gameplay

Story

While we were out sailing, the weather had taken a sudden turn and we’d capsized. We’d washed ashore on a deserted island. As we looked around we realized that everything on this island was locked up… even a boat.

The answer card deck, riddle card deck, a stack of help cards, a strange item, the decoder wheel, and the Forgotten Island journal.

Setup

The Forgotten Island played exactly as did the original three Exit: The Game episodes. I discussed the mechanics of this destructible game in an earlier review. If you’re curious about how this series works, give that one a read:

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

Gameplay

Exit: The Game’s The Forgotten Island was a puzzle-driven at-home escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ There were a lot of excellent puzzles in The Forgotten Island. They played with perspective and space especially well.

+ There was an especially entertaining group sequence. This puzzle on its own would be a good argument for having four players present.

– Being a nautical-themed escape game, there were a lot of map-based puzzles, and we had access to too many similar components at the same time.

– One of the most interesting puzzles suffered from a lack of clue structure.

– The final puzzle was interesting, but too laborious. The ending of The Forgotten Island fizzled while two players plodded through it.

+/- Once again, if you like Exit: The Game, this is a quintessential Exit box. If you love the style, you’ll likely enjoy the puzzles in The Forgotten Island. If you dislike Exit: The Game or you find yourself getting tired of it, this will feel like more of the same gameplay.

Tips for Playing

  • Make sure that you have a pair of scissors handy.
  • 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.
  • Play in good lighting. If you need reading glasses, have them available.

Pickup a copy of Exit: The Game’s The Forgotten Island, 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.)

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.)