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May 24

Cabin Fever – A Review of Exit: The Game

 Quick Board Game Reviews That Pack a Punch. No Rules, Just Opinions. 

From the Publisher:WAM Header - 2

Everyone meant to use the cabin only as a shelter for the night, but come the morning the door has been secured by a combination lock, with no one knowing the combination of numbers that will let them leave. The windows are barred as well. An enigmatic spinning code dial and a mysterious book is all that you have to go on. Can you escape from this abandoned cottage?

In EXIT: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin, players must use their team spirit, creativity, and powers of deduction to crack codes, solve puzzles, collect objects, and earn their freedom bit by bit.

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2017 Nominee

FULL DISCLOSURE: EXIT: THE GAME WAS GIVEN TO THE DUKES OF DICE BY EMPIRE BOARD GAME LIBRARY FOR REVIEW.

 

Escape Rooms are a popular trend these days, and the desire to unplug and reconnect with our tribe has become so important in this digital age. Now we have a distillation of the Escape Room in a board game, and I have to say it gave me a similar experience without all the Claustrophobia or even Cleithrophobia (I know...look it up). It was fun to work as a group, organically split to solve different puzzles, and come back together to see if we managed to make it a step further.
EXIT expertly captures the frantic puzzle-solving essence of an actual escape room, but without that one annoying guy who’s always elbowing you out of the way to get to the combination lock. You know that guy! And he’s really good at puzzles so you keep inviting him back even though last time he literally stepped on your toes! Well, this time you’ll be solving puzzles and decoding clues while comfortably sitting in chairs around a table. You can’t elbow me out of the way this time, Kyle!

What do I say about the mechanics without giving away spoilers? All the hallmarks of the Escape Room seem to exist in 2D form. The puzzles so far have been spatial, mathematical, cryptological, word and pattern based. Is that all of them? I am sure there are more, but my point is that through creative design, Markus and Inka Brand seemed to have honored the spirit and experience.

The puzzles are well designed, varied, and quite clever. Each solution will be either a combination of three numbers or colors, and you’ll use your trusty decoder wheel to direct you to an Answer Card. Get it wrong and you’ll find a big red Family Feud style X, but if you’re close, you’ll get pointed in the right direction or hopefully solve it. If you get stuck, there are hint available, but each one used will dock your score at the end.

Talking about theme is kind of weird for this game. There was a fun, thematic moment when we opened the box and read the intro. It tried to lead us into the maze of puzzles, and if we failed to escape, leave us to the hands of fate. In reality, it only succeeded in making me feel like I was in an Escape Room. Does that make it a thematic game? Yeah I think so….?

Obviously, it’s not as immersive as an actual escape room, but Exit sure tries hard with what it can pack into a tiny box. The setting here is one common to the escape room scene, and the clues and puzzles are appropriate to the ‘locked in a creepy cabin by a lunatic’ milieu. Exit does deliver the escape room experience successfully, so it’s thematic in that sense as well.

I think in this style of game, Art has to be a huge consideration. Everything needs to be shown in a way that guides us in a logical direction, and I do mean everything. I think what they did here was great. It gave us clues, distractions, and assumptions.

In a game of this nature, you really have to nail the artwork. Otherwise, not only will the sense of theme be lost, but clues become cluttered and frustratingly unusable. Fortunately, Exit doesn’t have this problem. The clues are clear and easy to read, but not so easy to decipher.

So the MSRP on this is about $15. For a one and done game that plays up to 6 people that’s a great price. My real complaint is that maybe they could cheapen the quality of the components some. It bothers me that I am just going to throw it in the trash, so with that in mind I’d like to see more care given in its production. I suppose the remnants would make for great RPG material.

It’s the first game I’ve ever played where I’ve paused to consider how recyclable it is. $15 for 1-2 hours of memorable entertainment for up to 6 people is a steal in my book. Smart retailers will bundle several of these together for a discount, say, 3 for $35-ish. Some people will blanch at the thought of playing a game once and tossing it, but it’s tough to find a better bang for your buck, especially compared to actual escape rooms.

I have done one escape room and it was with way too many people. It was like herding cats with someone throwing raw tuna all over the place. The beginning of this game felt similar. We had 6 people and not enough puzzles to go around, so I was a bit frustrated trying to contribute. It didn’t take long for the puzzles to reveal themselves and suddenly we all had plenty to do. I’d probably play it at 4 and coincidentally that is also my score. Since this game is more experience than board game, there is no replay value nor will it ever exist in the Duchy.
Yeah, “belongs in the Duchy” doesn’t really work here, does it? I agree the sweet spot on player count is probably 4, but once we got a bit settled in our 6 player game, everything started to click and everyone found a way to contribute. I had a really great time with this one and plan on picking up others in the series to play at game nights or family get-togethers. I’m giving it a 4 as well. I guess it belongs in the Duchy recycling bin… but only after you played it, had a great time with your friends, and gleefully destroyed half of the components.

The Dukes of Dice Rating System
1 = Poorly designed but playable. Not necessarily fun.
2 = Game has some merit but has significant detractions.
3 = Game is okay, not exciting. Will play in the right situation.
4 = A good game. Worth playing, just not all the time. Belongs in the Duchy.
5 = A great game, will rarely turn down a play of it.
6 = An all-time favorite that is a contender for the top 10

If you want to connect with us you can find:

Matthew on Twitter as @uncouthtooth or matthew@dukesofdice.com

Matt on Twitter as @matosowalker

Join the discussion in our Board Game Geek Guild on this review HERE

3 comments

  1. Jon

    Hey guys, thanks for the review! I noticed at Origins the three Exit games are being bundled for $30 (technically buy 2 get 1 free), so I’m definitely looking to get all three while I’m there. Here’s my question: is it possible to pass the entire game on to another group to play after you’re finished?

    1. Matthew Ward

      In the Abandoned Cabin, I believe you can do that. There are parts you will have to figure out a less optimal way of resolution, but it is possible. I have heard the other two are more unforgiving when it comes to resolving its puzzles. I feel like part of the fun is being in the moment, so slowing down to do that may be detrimental to the gameplay experience.

  2. Matt Walker

    You will have to be very slow and methodical to play this game and preserve it in a way to be able to pass it along. The back of the box says (no spoiler!) says you will mark up, fold, and tear some of the components in the game. The puzzles are probably solvable without doing that but I agree with Matthew that you’d be tarnishing the game experience a bit.

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