Please don’t buy any of the Thames & Kosmos EXIT games… so I can play them with you!
I purchased my first EXIT game because the series had won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 2017. These are “escape room” games: Your character is trapped, and can only escape by solving a series of puzzles. I played EXIT: The Secret Lab with a group of friends, and greatly enjoyed myself. Here’s a picture of me working on the game along with three hot chicks:
- There’s no replayability in these EXIT games. Once you’ve played one, you know the solutions to all its puzzles.
- Game play is “destructive”, in that you may cut apart some of the game components. In theory you could work your away around this (e.g., scanning everything and printing it on a color printer) but in practice that’s too much effort for such an inexpensive game. This means that, unlike some murder-mystery party games I’ve played, you can’t pass your copy of this game to someone else once you’ve played it.
- The game instructions suggest you have a scissors nearby. I strongly suggest that you start the game with a pair of scissors, paper for taking notes, and at least two pens or pencils. You may regret the time spent hunting around the house for these things while you’re playing the game (see next item).
- A live escape room typically has a time limit. There’s no explicit time limit in EXIT, but the time you take to solve the game affects your score.
- Scoring is based on how long you take to escape and how many help cards you use to solve the puzzles. You get the best score, ten stars, if you solve the game in under an hour and use no help cards; you get only 1 star if you take more than two hours to solve it and you use more than ten help cards. We got a score of eight stars when we played EXIT: The Secret Lab, because we escaped in a bit less than two hours, but used no help cards.
- You can get a score of four stars if you start the game and immediately use all the help cards to solve the puzzles. In theory one could call this cheating, but hey, it’s your copy!
- Each EXIT game lists a different number of players on the game box, “1 to 4” or “1 to 6”. We started out with seven players, but three of them drifted away when they found that the puzzles were not to their taste. In practice, there’s no limit to the number of players, but with more than four players not everyone may get a chance to examine each clue in detail.
- Cooperative games often suffer the problem of the “alpha player” who takes control of everything. That didn’t happen with us. Everyone contributed to solving at least one puzzle, even the ones who only participated briefly in the game.
- The EXIT games are inexpensive, and expense was definitely spared. In particular, the puzzle wheel that comes with the game is flimsy. The one in my copy had fallen apart, though I managed to repair it. So be forewarned: handle the game components carefully.
Let me know if you want to escape!