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.

Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle [Review]

Tell me Sarah, what do you think of my labyrinth?  

Location:  at home

Date Played:  May 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $25

Publisher:  Buffalo

REA Reaction

Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle was a challenging twist on a traditional jigsaw puzzle. It had “I Spy” elements that reminded me of The Magic Puzzle Company, though it seemed to have been produced much earlier (1997!). Given that every piece fit with any other, this puzzle was challenging, and demands your absolute focus.

Once you’ve completed the challenge of assembling the puzzle, it is up to you to escape from the maze you find yourself trapped in the center of.

If you’re a skilled jigsaw puzzler looking for a difficult jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t take up too much space, I recommend Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle. Solving it made me want to solve this puzzle’s sequel.

Closeup of Trapped in a Jigsaw assembled, it looks like a fantastical garden maze.

Who is this for?

  • Jigsaw puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Incredible attention to detail
  • It’s more than just a jigsaw
A pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces almost all of them have them same cuts.
Continue reading “Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle [Review]”

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.

June 21, 2021 Amazon Prime Day Deals for Escape Room Players

If you’re looking for a great deal on tabletop escape games, we have you covered. Here’s what’s on sale this Amazon Prime Day.

Glimmering fingrs placing a coin in a piggy bank.

Tabletop Escape Games

Less Escape, More Game

Cantaloop Book 1: Breaking into Prison [Review]

Point-and-click Adventure Game Book (Seriously)

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 8, 2021

Team size: 1; we recommend 1-4

Duration: 5-8 hours

Price: about $30

REA Reaction

Cantaloop Book 1: Breaking into Prison was described to me as “a really good point-and-click adventure game in book form… that actually feels like a point-and-click adventure game.”

After taking this product into the lab and studying it, I can confirm that description as entirely accurate.

Cantaloop book cover depicts the main character in a mugshot with a lot of swagger.

The art, writing, characters, and puzzle design all worked together to feel like a great point-and-click adventure game. The difference is that you can play it in a small group, with physical (albeit mostly paper) props, and enjoy it communally… like an escape room.

Our group of 4 loved playing Cantaloop. It was smart, funny, and craftily designed, with all of the tropes that make people love (or hate) point-and-click adventure games. If that sounds appealing to you, then this is a must-buy. If you despise point-and-click adventure games on computer, I doubt that Cantaloop will suddenly convert you.

When we finished playing, we mused about how this game could easily be translated into a mobile app, and go full point-and-click adventure game… but concluded that it shouldn’t, because it would be less fun.

Paper might be the future of the point-and-click adventure genre. No joke.

Who is this for?

  • Point-and-click adventure lovers
  • Story seekers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Strong writing and characters
  • Tons of humor
  • It felt like a proper point-and-click adventure

Story

Charismatic crook “Hook” Carpenter is back on Cantaloop Island and assembling a new team for one last job. The catch: the hacker he needs for this job is locked up in prison.

An in-game environmental image of a light house.
Continue reading “Cantaloop Book 1: Breaking into Prison [Review]”