This is a follow-up to my previous post.
Last night I played EXIT: The Forbidden Castle with a different group of friends than the ones from last week’s puzzle game.
- The game seriously handed us our butts. It took us two hours and forty minutes to solve it. We used several hint cards, though only three of them told us something that we didn’t already know. The resulting score was four stars.
- The game I’d played the previous weekend, EXIT: The Secret Lab, didn’t have a difficulty rating assigned by the designer. The Forbidden Castle had a difficulty rating of four out of five, making it the most difficult of this game series that I’ve purchased so far. Only one other game in the series, The Pharaoh’s Tomb is rated as difficult. I’m not sure if I’m going to purchase that one.
- We were held up by two intense puzzles that, in retrospect, called for serious mind-reading of the game’s designer. Without consulting the help cards, it was implausible we could have solved them in any reasonable period of time.
- There is a legacy element to the EXIT series that wasn’t in The Secret Lab. The descriptive text in Forbidden Castle suggested that it was a sequel to Abandoned Cabin. At the end of the game, we were told we’d get some minor scoring benefit for the next EXIT game we played.
- Now that I’ve played two EXIT games, I see a a couple of design issues:
- In both games, I was able to solve one puzzle well in advance of being to apply the solution anywhere. For example, in last night’s game, I had the solution to the crescent moon puzzle within the first half hour, but the moon symbol didn’t show up until near the end of the game. This was annoying, because there was no way to test if my solution was correct for much of our play time, and the other players were skeptical that my solution was right or even relevant.
- The puzzles are generally linear, with the solution to one puzzle required for the solution to another. I would prefer a more tree-like approach, so that a couple of players could work on one puzzle while a couple of others worked on another. On the other hand, most of the puzzles required a common resource (the puzzle book). A tree structure might not help if everyone in the game wanted to look at the book at once.
As you may have gathered by the tone of this post, I did not enjoy Forbidden Castle as much as The Secret Lab. I’m definitely going to play the other, hopefully easier EXIT games I’ve purchased, but after that I may to look to escape-room games from other publishers.