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Catacombs of Horror

Journey through the catacombs of Paris or a mysterious haunted roller coaster. The Exit game series is a line of escape room games in a box, and each one takes you to a unique location and through a wide variety of clever and creative puzzles.

We have been following these games ever since we first covered them in Casual Game Insider. When we recently received a new crop of these games from the publisher, we were naturally quite eager to give them a try. Below you will find a description of the game system, as well as a spoiler free synopsis and review of each of the games we played.

Gameplay

Each game in the Exit series begins by presenting the story to you in a short paragraph. Each game also comes with a decoder, a book, and cards, as well as additional items that become available for you to use as you play through the game. The cards include riddle cards, answer cards, and help cards. The rulebook will also tell you any additional items you may need that are not included in the box such as scissors or a match, depending on the game.

As you play through the game, you will find symbols representing various puzzles — often, these are locks or doors that need to be opened. To solve each one, you will need one or more riddle cards, which are revealed when you find them hidden in the game artwork or when you are instructed to do so. When you believe you have found the answer, you put it into the decoder disc, which contains a series of wheels. Every puzzle can be answered with a three-digit number (or three-symbol code), which you enter by rotating the wheels. A number will then appear on the viewing window of the smallest wheel, which is the answer card you draw.

Some answer cards will immediately tell you that your answer is incorrect, while others will direct you to draw an additional answer card based on what symbol you are trying to solve. If your answer is correct, your final answer card will tell you how to continue. You will likely find additional puzzles to solve. Some puzzles require you to bend or tear items in order to solve them — thus, each game can only played once.

For each puzzle in the game there are help cards you can choose to use, including two hint cards and one solution card. Once players have solved the last puzzle, they win the game. Players then calculate their score from 1 to 10 stars based on the time it took them and the number of help cards they used.

The Haunted Roller Coaster

The Haunted Roller Coaster

Trapped on a haunted roller coaster, players must solve the riddles of their mysterious captor if they wish to escape alive!

The Haunted Roller Coaster has a very linear format and story, which is typical of the entry level games in this series. It’s rated a difficulty 2 out of 5, and while it still feels challenging and satisfying, it is not overly difficult. It also has some great surprises and clever puzzles, making it one of the best Exit games at this difficulty level. It has a fun, spooky theme, with a feel of Scooby Doo cartoons, making it easily accessible for new players and great for Halloween time. Additionally, it includes a small deck of cards for a mini game at the end, which is a neat bonus.

The House of Riddles

The House of Riddles

Three detectives have invited you to their House of Riddles, a mysterious series of escape rooms they have designed and have invited you to tackle.

The House of Riddles is another good beginner entry into the series, however we found the puzzles a little too easy, and completed it in a little over thirty minutes. We found some of the puzzles to be quite original and unlike anything we’d seen in other escape games (the Exit series is always great about bringing surprises to the table) — however, some of the puzzles we were able to solve earlier than the game intended simply because they were a little too simple. The story and theme also weren't as engaging as the other games in the series.

Dead Man on the Orient Express

Dead Man on the Orient Express

It is 1905 and you are traveling on the Orient Express, when one morning the body of a fellow passenger is discovered and the master detective traveling on the train has also disappeared. It is up to you to catch the culprit.

The mystery theme is truly unique to this type of game, and there are fun nods to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express hidden in the story. Rather than attempting to escape a locked area, players are working on puzzles to figure out which suspects are lying about their alibis, and establish the guilty party. Due to this format, players only get one chance at the final puzzle (unlike other games in the series in which you can attempt multiple guesses). We found the estimated difficulty of 4 out of 5 to be accurate, and would not recommend making this your entry into the series, as the experience could prove confusing and unenjoyably difficult. However, if you already have a couple of the easier ones under your belt, this is a fun and challenging one with a truly original setting.

Catacombs of Horror

The Catacombs of Horror

Your friend has gone missing in the Catacombs of Paris, and it is up to you to rescue him. The Catacombs of Horror presents itself as being a 2-part adventure in a single box. Rather than being two separate scenarios, we found that it is one continuous scenario with a break in the middle where you can choose to continue on or come back another night.

Creating a 2-part adventure seemed like a neat idea, however we found the execution of it a bit lacking. The game’s flow is complicated and some of the symbols in the artwork are frustratingly similar, making it difficult to tell which path you’re supposed to be going down. There were elements that were intended to be introduced that we somehow missed, and in general we found the two part nature of the game a hindrance rather than an advantage: too long to enjoy in one sitting, but difficult to jump back into the puzzles on another night. Still, if you’re looking for a challenge, it will definitely present you with one!

Disclosure: we received complimentary review copies of these games.