There's nothing like a great escape room challenge to awaken the brain and get the deductive reasoning and creativity skills burning brightly. Thames & Kosmos are back with three new "exit games" to challenge the mind. The gauntlet has been thrown.
In June of 2017, I reviewed three escape room games by Thames & Kosmos. The next crop of three games just hit the market. The Exit: The Game series offers The Forbidden Castle, The Forgotten Island and The Polar Station.
To quickly refresh readers' minds about escape room games, it is important to note that the whole objective is to solve some puzzle or series of puzzles to escape a pretend dangerous situation. Clues are given along the way and must be solved within a certain time limit.
In order to not spoil the fun of the exit games reviewed here, this story will not include any puzzle solutions or revelations on important story elements.
First off, each of the exit games in the series has a similar design. There is a manual with a story overview, a set of clues and instructions on how to use the materials provided. Each game also includes a puzzle decipher wheel.
The Forbidden Castle is set in a creepy old castle in the mountains. On vacation, the players find an old brochure and decide to investigate. Upon arrival at the castle, they find no ticket booth or people. The group investigates the castle and finds a large throne room. Suddenly the doors close, locking them inside. Can the group find the exit and escape?
As is common in this particular series of games, provided materials include riddle and clue cards, a puzzle decoder wheel and a story/clue booklet. This version of the game contains these elements. Typically how things work is players begin reading from the storybook until they encounter their first puzzle.
Using the materials provided, they will align the proper row of symbols on the decoder wheel to reveal a number. They then read the card associated with that number to progress the story or try again. The card will let you know.
What The Forbidden Castle offers that is different from similar versions of the game is its difficulty level. This is the hardest of the six. It was frustrating at times, but I was thankful for the clue cards. Another difference for this particular game is the effect of a particular decision at the beginning of the game that has repercussions later in the game. I hope they design more of these conundrums in future games.
All but hardcore puzzle gamers may get a little frazzled by the challenges in this particular game. It is rated a four out of five for difficulty. It is recommended for those who have breezed through the other titles in the series.
Also note that there is a companion app that can be downloaded to a phone. It provides a timer and sound effects.
In the exit game The Forgotten Island, players go on a sailing adventure. When storm clouds arise, a terrible set of winds and waves capsizes the boat and knocks everyone unconscious.
The group awakens on a black sandy beach. Looking around, the group discovers an old book and a golden compass. There is also a boat chained to a palm tree and a variety of things secured by locks. To find a way off the island, the group must figure out how to release all of the locks and escape.
Overall what impressed me about this version of the exit game series was the pacing and thematic puzzles. The final puzzle in this game really makes sense and matches well with the storyline.
Also, the puzzles were difficult but not impossible. Things flowed nicely as the group solved one puzzle after the other. The companion app had some nice beach sound effects to set the mood. I had the most fun with this title.
The final game in the series, The Polar Station, brings players to the freezing Arctic to do research on climate change. There are multiple teams in the area working from different stations, but the research of the other teams is unknown. At the current time, one of the teams has not been heard from for weeks.
Suddenly an evacuation alarm goes off. It is discovered that the only door out of the room is locked. Looking out the only window, it appears that the whole team is escaping in the arctic helicopters. Its solo from here on out.
Escaping through a ventilation duct and into another station, the players discover an abandoned lab. It is completely destroyed. Upon inspection, the players find a notebook and strange disc. Everything in the room is secured by numbered locks The goal is to decipher these locks and escape before becoming a cold corpse.
The nice thing about this particular exit game is the way it gradually increases in difficulty. It starts out with an easy puzzle to get the juices flowing. There's nothing more frustrating that hitting a hard puzzle first and burning a bunch of time. But be warned, this particular version overall is tough.
There is one particular puzzle toward the end of the game that is hard to figure out. Even after revealing the answer with the provided clue cards, I'm not sure how the answer was derived.
The decoder wheel, which is a common element among the exit games, typically contains symbols that need to be matched and aligned. Sometimes visually understanding each symbol can be difficult. This version of the series uses numbers and it is easier to see and understand.
Overall this is a solid offering and provides a good challenge. Of the six total games that have been released so far, this is one of the toughest.