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The Sacred Temple

Thames & Kosmos takes their Exit series in a new direction with The Sacred Temple and The Deserted Lighthouse, where escape rooms meet jigsaw puzzles.

You can read our review of several previous games in the series, and a general overview of how the gameplay works, here.

Gameplay Overview

These Exit games are somewhat similar to other games in the series, although with some key distinctions. Each of these games includes four separate jigsaw puzzles that you will put together during the game. The puzzles depict your current surroundings, showing a number of different-colored locks and various clues.

Once you have finished putting together a puzzle, you will consider the clues and booklets available to you and try to solve a lock. To solve a lock, you must input three numbers into the decoder disk and check the back of the disk. If a lock of the same color is visible, you may have the right solution. To verify, look at the shapes on the front of the disk and look for a booklet that matches the same shapes. If there is a match, you have correctly solved the clues for this lock and you may proceed to open and read the booklet.

When prompted by the game, you will proceed to the next puzzle. Play continues until the game is fully solved and players score points based on the amount of time required to complete the game and the number of hints that were used.

Overall Thoughts

The jigsaw puzzles are small and not too difficult. You’re putting together several smaller ones rather than a single large one, making them a nice compliment to the riddle solving of the games rather than taking over. They're also a nice mental break interspersed throughout the gameplay, and offer an opportunity for a bit of social chatter as you put it together, which is a nice addition, especially for something like this that is likely to take up the whole game night. However, the small size of the puzzles does make it necessary to stick to the recommended one-to-four players, as there just won’t be enough room for more people to join in.

Sometimes the seams between the puzzle pieces can make some details hard to decipher, which can be a little frustrating when you don't know if those details are important to the riddle you're trying to solve or not. The artwork on the puzzles, however, is excellent. The Exit games have always had some really cool imagery and themes, but they're usually somewhat restricted in where they can feature it. So it's a nice touch that they have an opportunity to present it in a larger format. The puzzles also keep the games fairly linear, making it easier to track what you’re supposed to be working on at any given time.

These games introduce a new style of decoder disk to check your answers. This new format removes the need for answer cards, which can make it faster to check if your solution is correct. However, it also becomes easier to cheat, which can be a problem, depending on your group. As long as everyone is on the same page about using the decoder disk as intended (not spinning it around looking for the right lock on the back), this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

The Sacred Temple Components

The Sacred Temple

For fans of jigsaw puzzles and riddles, The Sacred Temple is a fantastic blend of the two that we would highly recommend. If you don’t like jigsaw puzzles, this is unlikely to win you over, but there is still plenty of escape room style puzzles left in the game. The difficulty level felt just about right, and the jigsaw puzzles didn’t take too much time to put together. The puzzles were also used in some quite clever and unconventional ways. Once you put a puzzle together, it might not remain fully assembled for long!

Compared to other games in the Exit line, there’s much less destruction of components, making it a lot easier to pass this one along to a friend. This is a nice addition for an entry that’s a little different than its predecessors and therefore might leave some players on the fence about whether or not to give it a try.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with The Sacred Temple. It took up the whole game night, but it was a night well spent.

The Deserted Lighthouse

The Deserted Lighthouse

A slightly more challenging game than The Sacred Temple, we also found it to run longer. The jigsaw puzzles themselves were more time-consuming as there is less contrast in the images. The designers continued to come up with some unique ways to use the jigsaw puzzles to solve riddles; however, a couple of the solutions didn’t feel completely satisfying.

We would also have liked some clear indication in the rules on whether or not to keep the jigsaw puzzles together once you’ve moved onto the next one, or whether you can disassemble them to save on table space. Don't make the same mistake we did — keep the puzzles together once you have solved them! It can be frustrating to have to put the same puzzle together twice.

The Deserted Lighthouse was definitely still enjoyable, and you could take a break between puzzles if it starts to run too long for your group (although be prepared to reassemble those puzzles if you do so). But you should start with The Sacred Temple to see if you enjoy the blend of jigsaws and riddles.

Disclosure: we received complimentary review copies of these games.