Exit: The Game – The Cursed Labyrinth [Hivemind Review]

The Cursed Labyrinth is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game, The Cursed Labyrinth box art with a stone maze structure on the cover.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

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

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

While touring the grounds of a castle, you wander into a mysterious labyrinth and become trapped with only your puzzle-solving skills to save you. Your adventure follows the standard format for novice Exit: The Game installments.

You have access to a puzzle book, clue cards, various “strange items,” and a decoder wheel for entering the solutions to puzzles. In the novice games like this one, the puzzle book walks you through one puzzle at a time. As in all Exit: The Game installments, you must embrace destroying various parts of the game to solve some of the puzzles, though this installment preserves more components than most.

Assorted game components including a maze, a solution wheel, card deck, and instructions.

Cindi S’ Reaction

During a visit to an ancient castle, you discover a mysterious stone labyrinth in the nearby gardens. Unable to resist, you walk through the entry gate to explore further and quickly become trapped as the doors slam shut! In The Cursed Labyrinth, you will meet mysterious creatures as you puzzle your way through the maze’s twists and turns. I always enjoy the sound effects in the companion app, and for the first time they added a character voice reading the introduction, which immediately brought the story to life. The puzzles were fun to discover and solve, as always, but a few had more direction than usual, making The Cursed Labyrinth less challenging than other Exit: The Game installments. This is a very good choice for younger players and beginners, but experienced players will still enjoy their path through the Labyrinth.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

During a tour of an old castle, you and your friends find yourself trapped in a complicated maze with all sorts of creatures in Exit: The Game’s The Cursed Labyrinth. With two or three reaches that stretch past the Novice rating on the box, this game would be most appropriate for a group of 2-4 people (including a few adults) that have played at least one Exit: The Game installment before. There were several puzzles executed with new game mechanics that will interest even those people who have played a number of games in this series before. That being said, while Exit Game installments are typically translated flawlessly into English, there is one hint card that notes to pay attention to text in cursive, which is incorrect and may be misleading.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Exit: The Game series is usually a fairly positive experience for me, usually containing clever puzzles and fun interactions that break from my expectations, given the game components. The Cursed Labyrinth lived up to its ‘cursed’ title and was one of the weakest additions to the Exit: The Game series so far. From vague extractions that weren’t well clued, arbitrary deciphering, and lack of signposting, this game fell apart. While a handful of puzzles were easy to solve, they felt more like a process and less like solving a puzzle. The game had either extremely easy, but satisfying solves, or poorly executed difficult puzzles, with none of them quite landing in the middle. Each puzzle in the game was a good idea, and could have been a cleaner solve, but in the current state, I really cannot recommend The Cursed Labyrinth. If you’re looking to pick up a title in the series, I’d recommend The Enchanted Forest or The Gate Between Worlds.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

This was a solidly average Exit: The Game installment with no major flaws, but also no major wow moments. The setting of a “cursed labyrinth” offered coherent mythological theming throughout the game, but resulted in visually murky game materials. All of the puzzles were reasonable with fairly obvious cluing, though a couple required us to reason about game mechanics in ways that benefitted from familiarity with those mechanics. There was also a surprising red herring, which was rather unusual for the series and was particularly disappointing in this case because we were otherwise intrigued by it.

New to Exit: The Game? Maybe don’t start here. Although some puzzles provide decent onramps to the series’s mechanics, there are too many that expect more familiarity with those mechanics than a first-time player is likely to develop within their first play.

Fan of Exit: The Game? If you gravitate toward the easier, more linear installments in the series, this game is a fine choice with a couple of interesting twists on game mechanics. Don’t expect anything mind-blowing, and you’ll have a nice time.

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

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Exit: The Game – The Gate Between Worlds [Hivemind Review]

The Gate Between Worlds is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game: The Gate Between Worlds box art has an orange portal set in a circular stone with symbols along the inner edge.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

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

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Venturing through the “Gate Between Worlds,” you travel throughout the universe in this game in an attempt to puzzle yourself home. This game delivers information through a series of “world” pamphlets that you progress through by entering solutions into the “gate between worlds’ (i.e. the standard Exit: The Game decoder wheel.) You also manipulate several “strange objects” throughout the course of the game. As in all Exit: The Game installments, you must embrace destroying various parts of the game to solve some of the puzzles.

Assorted items from Exit's Gate Between Worlds features an unusual decoder wheel.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

If someone asked which Exit: The Game installment to start with, I would not hesitate to say The Gate Between Worlds. It introduced posters into the player experience, which provided a quick and easy way to expand the game space as we explored seven different worlds via a “mysterious circular gate.” The game was a great representation of the wide variety of puzzle mechanics that Exit: The Game installments typically employ, all of which were fair and did not require large logical leaps to complete. I would feel comfortable recommending The Gate Between Worlds to both beginners and enthusiasts alike; 2-4 people would be the ideal number of players.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

This was a standard mid-level Exit: The Game installment whose most noteworthy features were its fun thematic variations on its game pieces. Instead of a riddle book, we had a series of pamphlet-like “worlds” to unlock, and the decoder disk served as the titular “gate between worlds.” This framework provided a basic narrative coherence to the experience even though voyaging through the disparate worlds yielded a mishmash of thematically incongruous puzzles. From a story perspective, the most logical puzzles stemmed from the voyage itself rather than any of the destinations.

Individual puzzles ranged from one significant frustration early in the game to some pleasantly multi-step ahas near the end, with most puzzles being solid and approachable. From a cluing perspective, this level 3 installment provided a decent bridge to more difficult levels as it guided players to think through connections that spanned multiple pieces of information. The game also leaned more heavily on “strange objects” than other typical Exit: The Game tricks, and the latter seemed more explicitly clued than in some easier installments. This enhanced the game’s value as an onramp to the series, but inherently left less to discover on your own.

New to Exit: The Game? This game was approachable enough to play as a newcomer to the series. Its few but significant frustrations wouldn’t be avoided with experience. However, the fun parts were a fair representation of the series.

Fan of Exit: The Game? This game’s unique thematic skinning added interesting flavor, but its gameplay was fairly average for the series and felt a little less “Exit-y” than usual. It was fun but not a standout to me.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Gate Between Worlds continues the story from The Cemetery of the Knight, where you discovered a map to a mystical gate. In this adventure, you actually find the gate and set out to discover its secrets! My experience with Exit: The Game installments is that they always manage to do the unexpected, and this game is no exception. I was surprised to find only one Riddle Card instead of the usual stack, and no puzzle booklet at all. Instead, you explore individual worlds depicted on separate posters, which gives the game a little more structure and momentum than the typical Exit: The Game installment. I liked the variety of puzzles, some easy and some more involved (although there were two that were a bit of a stretch.) It’s a good thing you can only play this game once, because I completely ruined a game component by being a bit overzealous trying to get to the solution of one very unusual puzzle! The Gate Between Worlds exemplifies how the Exit: The Game formula is really about breaking away from the formula in compelling and satisfying ways. I don’t know if this story will continue in a future installment, but I do know the next one I play will, like always, be something I didn’t expect.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Gate Between Worlds was one of the best installments in the Exit: The Game series yet. The varied game mechanics, use of objects in unexpected ways, and creative puzzle executions made this game shine. This is the first Exit: The Game installment where my group did not need any hints, not because it was easy but because it lacked the typical 1-2 logic leaps the other installments usually contain. We really loved the small aha moments in every puzzle, with each solve leading to an equally satisfying reveal. If you’re going to pick up one of the most recent Exit: The Game installments, this one’s awesome!

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

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Exit: The Game – The Cemetery of the Knight [Hivemind Review]

The Cemetery of the Knight is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game The Cemetary of the Knigh cover art depicts a cemetery at dawn with many ravens

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

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

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You have a once-in-87-years opportunity to retrieve a treasure from the tomb of Sir Reginald Wreston, if only you can follow the clues throughout the cemetery to find it. This game uses the standard game pieces for Exit: The Game installments: a riddle book (in this case, Sir Wreston’s journal), clue cards, various “strange items,” and a decoder wheel for entering the solutions to puzzles. Because this is a medium-difficulty installment in the series, you have access to clues from multiple puzzles at the same time, so you must determine for yourself which clues go together. As in all Exit: The Game installments, you must embrace destroying various parts of the game to solve some of the puzzles.

Cemetery of the Night box contents includes a deck of cards, a journal, a transparency, and a solution wheel.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

This is a fun game to bridge people from the novice Exit: The Game installments to the less linear, more difficult ones. The story in this game is driven via the answer cards rather than by sequentially turning pages in the riddle book. As such, the riddle book is a random collection of clues for you to connect with the appropriate part of the story, adding an extra level of deduction to the gameplay. I personally enjoy the ambiguity and connection opportunities of having many clues available to me at once, but it certainly makes the story more difficult to track.

As with any Exit: The Game installment, this game uses its pieces in unexpected ways, much more often than in installments with difficulty levels 1 and 2. As an experienced fan, I found most of these mechanics to be delightful in the way they defied expectations. However, knowledge of typical Exit: the Game mechanics is necessary to figure out these twists, which may frustrate newcomers to the series. Also, some of the more straightforward puzzles suffered from multiple interpretations of the clues, giving us the misleading sense that we were doing things correctly when we were not.

New to Exit: The Game? Don’t start here. Even if you’re an experienced puzzler outside of the series, this game assumes that you can reason about the game’s mechanics themselves. This is much more reasonable and satisfying if you’re already familiar with those mechanics rather than learning them for the first time.

Fan of Exit: The Game? This installment has an unusually large number of new surprises, reserving its low points for its less ambitious puzzles. So, if you enjoy these games for their novel mechanics more than for a perfect puzzle set, check this one out.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

Plainly stated, if you are thinking about diving into the Exit: The Games series, The Cemetery of the Knight is not where I would suggest beginning. Suitable for players who have already completed multiple Exit: The Games installments, be prepared for at least two puzzles that require significant leaps in logic to solve. Alternatively, one puzzle in particular was incredibly clever in the utilization of game materials, and was a standout in the Exit: The Games series as a whole. Be mindful that the thematic dark and monotone artwork for this game made it difficult to differentiate scenery and puzzle artwork; bright lighting is strongly suggested.

Cindi S’ Reaction

In The Cemetery of the Knight, you set out on a quest to find a legendary artifact of a knight, but unfortunately you have to explore a creepy cemetery to do it! The game does an excellent job of weaving a mysterious tale in and around the puzzles, and you can almost smell the dust in the air as you search for the artifact. This was one of the better stories in the Exit: The Game series. The puzzles were unusual and tricky, and the final puzzle was really fun to discover. There was only one that did not work for me, perhaps something was lost in translation? I also found some of the clues to be hard to see, given the dark artwork throughout. Overall, it was a fun experience that had me engaged from beginning to end.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Cemetery of the Knight was a pretty standard addition to the Exit: The Game series, with an unfortunate lack of great aha moments that I’ve encountered in their other games. Exit: The Game included one of our favorite moments among the series, along with a few of our lowest points. This iteration (and all iterations of the Exit: The Game series) could benefit greatly by including a portion of the instruction book that lists the gameplay mechanics that are different for seasoned players, as our team assumed we couldn’t progress in the booklet without being told, stalling our puzzling for a while. Once we figured out that we could use the booklet, we enjoyed many of the puzzles, yet they were unmemorable. If you’re in the mood to play an installment from Exit: The Game, I’d recommend reading the rule book before diving into this one!

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

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Exit: The Game – The Deserted Lighthouse (with Jigsaws) [Hivemind Review]

The Deserted Lighthouse is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit Deserted Lighthouse box art depicts an illuminated lighthouse in the middle of rough seas at night.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game with jigsaw puzzle component

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A mobile device is not required, but can be used for background sound effects.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 2-3 hours

Price: about $25

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are on a mission to repair a mysteriously darkened lighthouse before a ship crashes into the shoreline. To reach the lamp and save the day, you must complete a series of jigsaw puzzles that represent different parts of the lighthouse and 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 individual bags of jigsaw puzzle pieces.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Even more than The Sacred Temple, this game makes creative and multifaceted use of the jigsaw format, a bold step that yields both frustrations and rewards as it ramps up the difficulty level. Although some of my complaints from The Sacred Temple persist in this game (murky jigsaw art, awkward jigsaw collaboration), I found the pacing between jigsawing and solving to be much more balanced here because the clue-based puzzles were significantly heftier, requiring more connections and outside-the-box thinking. I particularly enjoyed combining clues across multiple jigsaw puzzles; it made the game feel simultaneously less linear and more coherent, like the different areas of the lighthouse were part of the same whole. On the other hand, I found some puzzles to be a bit too risky to enjoy (e.g. we might be doing a lot of unpleasant erasing if something went awry). Other times I was frustrated due to ambiguous cluing that lacked adequate opportunities for redirection, which sadly marred the most ambitious puzzle, among others. Fortunately, the hint system is solid.

Despite these extremes, overall I enjoyed this game. I don’t consider myself to be a jigsaw enthusiast, so it’s important to me for the jigsaw puzzles to justify themselves in other ways. Here, I felt like the creative and unexpected ways that the clue-based puzzles leveraged the jigsaw format satisfied this criterion. That, combined with the general complexity of the puzzles, resulted in more time deducing than jigsawing, which is the right balance for me. Nonetheless, the frustrations were distracting, so I’m still hoping for a more seamless experience in future versions of this format.

Assorted game components including a sea map, a solution wheel, and instructions.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The lighthouse is dark, the keeper is missing, and there’s a ship sailing through the storm that will crash into the rocks – unless you can figure out how to get inside and restore the broken lamp in time! The Deserted Lighthouse is the second game in the Exit: The Game series to include jigsaw puzzles as part of the experience, and compared to The Sacred Temple, this one was much more enjoyable. The story was minimal, and I’m not exactly sure I understood part of the ending, but it’s the puzzles that stood out and made this game fun. There were a number of really unique and surprising manipulations of game materials to lead you to solutions. One multi-layered puzzle was so cool I had to call people over to show them! As with The Sacred Temple, the addition of jigsaw puzzles increases the length of the game – each puzzle took me about 15 minutes, and that adds up when there are four jigsaws in the box – but it also adds new opportunities for unusual and satisfying tactile puzzles. I hope the series continues to innovate, experiment, and light the path forward for other tabletop escape game designers.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

Of the many Exit: The Game installations played so far in this series of reviews, The Deserted Lighthouse was a favorite. Assuming that the players’ jigsaw puzzle skills are up to par (of which mine assuredly are not), the gameplay within The Deserted Lighthouse is fair and worth the work required for the reveals. There were several pops of satisfying realizations and fair discoveries that are tied together with beautiful artwork. In this edition, the puzzles embedded into completed jigsaws were much more legible than in The Sacred Temple, and had minimal logical leaps. This game would be good for groups of three players (four at most), and would be a reasonable challenge for those new to the Exit: The Game series.

Theresa W’s Reaction

I quite love what Exit: The Game is doing with the jigsaw puzzle series, and The Deserted Lighthouse is no exception. As your team rushes to turn back on the lighthouse to save a ship from hitting shore, puzzles are blocking your path! By using your wits and your (clearly) superior jigsaw skills, you’ll be able to get the ship back safely. The puzzles aren’t too difficult at only 88 pieces, but the lack of color definition makes them a bit tedious. With some more contrast, these puzzles could really be fun for all audiences, and not just folks comfortable with jigsaws. The puzzles were standard for the Exit: The Game series, but used the jigsaws to amplify what could have been less exciting in the traditional card and booklet format. If you’re comfortable solving jigsaws, or okay spreading this across multiple plays, I definitely recommend checking this out (and picking up The Sacred Temple while you’re at it!).

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

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

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.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.