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EXIT: Advent Calendar - The Hunt for the Golden Book

Christmas must be saved! Search through a magical village to find Santa’s stolen golden book, without which he cannot complete his Christmas duties. He is counting on you to help recover it and catch the thief!

Published by Thames & Kosmos as part of their EXIT line, The Hunt for the Golden Book is both an escape room game and an advent calendar: you open one door each day in December leading up to Christmas.

Gameplay

The game consists of 24 doors, behind each of which is a tiny room with detailed artwork. Behind some of the doors are riddle cards and/or other components that are required to solve the puzzle for that day. A booklet is included with the game that has a calendar page to tear out for each day, containing information about the story and puzzle.

When you start the game, you don’t know which door belongs to which day, but each door has three symbols on it. To find the next door to open, you must solve the puzzle in the current day’s room, which will give you a three-digit code.

You will enter this code into the decoder that has three sliding pieces. After you enter the code, you flip the decoder over to see a set of three arrows and symbols. The arrows give you directions to the next door (up, down. left, right, or diagonal in any direction). After following the arrows, you should land at a new door — if you land at a previous door or fall off the map, you know immediately your code is wrong. On the new door, you will see three symbols. If your solution was correct, these symbols will match those shown on the decoder — this is the door for tomorrow! You write the door number at that location and come back to it the next day.

There is an underlying story that connects each door and puzzle, as you work your way through the whole calendar. If you need help, hints are neatly organized in another booklet, ranging from basic clues to full solutions.

EXIT: Advent Calendar - The Hunt for the Golden Book Components

Review

Turning an escape room game into an advent calendar is such a creative, unique idea, and an excellent twist on both formats. Just like other games in the EXIT line, The Hunt for the Golden Book has excellent puzzles, many of which make excellent use of the unusual format and all of which are quite different from each other, ensuring that nothing here feels like a wasted opportunity.

While the puzzles are excellent, the calendar side of the game is as well. The box itself is quite large, giving it the solid presence that you want from an advent calendar and making it an impressive set piece for your December decorations. Each tiny little room is a delight to discover, which beautifully captures the excitement and discovery you want from opening each door of an advent calendar.

The game does make a lot of trash, much more than you usually get from an EXIT game, and this is definitely not something you can pass along to a friend afterward. However, since you can’t typically reuse advent calendars, this might feel like less of a drawback than usual for an EXIT game, and it is quite satisfying to cut, draw, and tear your way through the puzzles.

Because the sizes of the rooms and components are fairly small, The Hunt for the Golden Book is suitable for 1-2 players, but would struggle with a larger group or family. It does make an excellent solo experience, however. It's also possible for different family members to solve the puzzle at different times throughout the day. The bite-sized puzzles are easy to dip into and make time for each day, while still being quite satisfying to solve.

While you don’t know what door will be next until you’ve solved the current day’s puzzle, the fact that it’s always clear once you solve a room where you have to go next, gives the game a very nice, linear format. Though some puzzles still have callbacks or expand on something in a previous room.

We do recommend playing with some kind of flashlight as well as a magnifying glass to see the details in each room, and be sure to not throw away the calendar pages. Also, embrace the fact that the game can’t be re-gifted — be sure to write those door numbers on the box. You will definitely need them later in the game.

Overall, we loved the concept of this game and it would make for an excellent early Christmas gift for any friend who loves escape games. EXIT games are always impressive and this one goes above and beyond.

Pros: Excellent blending of two different genres, unique and clever puzzles, each room is a delight to discover

Cons: Makes a lot of trash, can’t be passed on, given the size of the rooms and components this does not work well with a larger group

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.