EXIT: Advent Calendar – The Hunt for the Golden Book (Spoiler Free)
Exit: The Game
Inka Brand, Markus Brand
Family friendly Puzzles
I adore the Exit: The Game series by Inka and Markus Brand. Each game is a evening’s worth of entertainment wrapped up in a small, affordable package! The regular games usually take you on a short adventure where you and your fellow sleuths will solve puzzles to advance the plot and ultimately win the game. These puzzles range from simple spotting of hidden objects to more complex head scratchers that can even involve cutting things apart, building small structures, and employing light and shadow to uncover the truth.
The Hunt for the Golden Book takes all the fun of the Exit series and presents it as an advent calendar. The story, you immediately learn, is that Santa has lost his golden book, which is the key to being able to deliver presents. If you fail to help him find it, Christmas will be ruined! Being the wonderful person you are, you agree to search for the book and, with a magical flair, you’re transported away and the hunt begins!
Each day of the calendar is a separate challenge and takes you through a continuous story that touches on many different aspects of the holiday season. You’ll probably recognize a bunch of pop cultural Christmas references, as well as a throwbacks to previous Exit Games, so if you are a fan of the series, this advent calendar is full of delightful Easter eggs (or maybe Christmas eggs?) to discover while you’re puzzling your way through the game.
Compared to other Exit games I’ve played, I found these puzzles to be on the easy-to-medium difficulty, which is actually perfect given their bite-sized nature. I played with two other adults and we finished the calendar in 2 sittings (I was rushing to write this review), but each puzzle will offer you anywhere between 5-20 minutes of entertainment in a given sitting.
Each door on the advent calendar opens up into a room that depicts a small scene. There are plenty of clues within the rooms and occasionally you’ll find physical objects and hidden secrets. One challenge my group had with the calendar was that the rooms themselves are small and only one person can really look into a room at a time. We solved this by taking a picture on our phone and zooming in so everyone could see at the same time.
Another minor problem is, because of the way the box is constructed, occasionally things can slip out the side of a room into another, so make sure not to shake the box too hard or you might end up losing track of a clue you need.
By solving the room’s puzzle you will get a 3 number code which can be used with the decoder table to produce a 3 symbol code to open the next door in the adventure.
To keep the game moving, the calendar uses a 2 book system. The storybook is composed of tear-away sheets that will not only tell the story as you play, but also offer up clues and puzzles that go along with each room you open. The Help book offers up clues in a clever way. If you happen to get stuck, you’ll flip to the page that matches the room you are on and see that there are 2 clues and 1 solution, but you don’t have to look at all of them at once. The page is designed to be folded 1 part at a time, revealing only the information you need. This way you still have a chance at solving the puzzle with minimal help and without spoiling it for yourself.
I found the help book most useful for confirming we had in fact solved a puzzle correctly before opening the next door. One helpful hint: the last page of the hint book has a page for notes. Since I didn’t want to flip through the clues if I didn’t need them, I never noticed it until we finished the game. It would have been helpful to have had the note page at the beginning, but its a minor complaint.
The story in The Hunt for the Golden Book is funny and corny and perfect for anyone who loves Christmas time. It’s goofy in the best way and will be perfect for families and other light-hearted groups.
As with all the Exit games, I love that all the answers you need to solve a puzzle are contained within the game itself. You don’t need any outside knowledge and you don’t need to catch every reference. If you consider each puzzle carefully, you can find everything you need, which is also perfect if you’re playing with folks of different ages or puzzle-solving skill levels.
Some puzzles are very simple and may offer up little challenge, but there were a few puzzles that kept 3 relatively intelligent adults perplexed for more than a few minutes, so you definitely get a good range of complexity in the game.
The Exit series make for great gifts, and EXIT: Advent Calendar – The Hunt for the Golden Book is a really cool way of either introducing new folks to them or giving your favorite puzzler a gift that keeps on giving. So go ahead and grab a copy, open some doors, and save Christmas!