EXIT the Game: The Cemetery of the Knight (Interview with 2 Escape Room Enthusiasts by RJ Garrison)

Designer: Inka & Markus Brand

Publisher:  Thames & Kosmos

Players:  1-4

Playing Time:  60-120 minutes

Ages:  12+

MSRP: $14.95

Level:  (3 of 5*)

I’ve been discovering the EXIT Games and thought I’d try something different and bring in some Escape Room enthusiasts and interview them after playing EXIT The Game:  The Cemetery of the Knight.  EXIT: The Cemetery of the Knight is part of Thames and Kosmos’ (Kosmos’s?) EXIT games, which have been covered in detail by Dale Yu and other Opinionated Gamers.  Check out those reviews here: Exit | Search Results | The Opinionated Gamers

In EXIT: The Cemetery of the Knight, players work cooperatively to search for a priceless artifact, rumored to be hidden in the Cemetery of the Knight. While the groundskeeper heads off to the local pub, you and your team figure you’ve got a little bit of time to get in, get the clues and get out with the artifact.  Do you have what it takes?

This game was played by 2 Escape Room Enthusiasts and video game developers, Alaetheia (A) and Jaye (J), interviewed for this review.

How many escape rooms have you two done together?  J:  We’ve done over a dozen escape rooms at this point.  We’ve always done these with just the two of us…A:  …and  found that we liked working them ourselves.  It provides us with some sort of couples therapy and we do better and get less frustrated since  we don’t have to deal with other people in the room.  We were just ramping up, finding more and more when COVID hit and closed everything down.

Have you done an EXIT game before?  A: No, this was our first one.

How long did it take you to finish?   J:  Just over an hour. 

How did you feel about the different clues?  J:  Most of them weren’t well designed.  Can you give an example without spoiling the clue?  J: Thematically, it’s supposed to be dark in the cemetery but some of the clues used artwork that was extremely dark on an extremely dark background that it’s difficult to figure out the clues just based on poor artistic choices. Even in bright light it is very difficult to see some of the clues.

A:  I liked a number of parts of the clues, but there were never really any “ah-ha” moments while solving them.  Even when we ended up using the hints and the solution to a clue, there wasn’t really a “ohhhh! That makes sense” moment as a number of the more difficult clues were just…difficult for the purpose of being difficult and didn’t make too much sense when solving.  Often we would have most of the clue solved but the actual solution on the page was muddled and we’d end up with a different number due to alignment or the way things on the page worked out.

J:  If you look at the list in the instructions on what you need, it doesn’t say anything about the promo material, which we almost threw out.  (Don’t throw out the promo material)

What did you like about the game?  A:  The story on the answer cards that moved the game along was thematic and nicely written.  It kept us moving forward and entertained. 

J:...

A:  There were some cool design elements, like the insert (no spoiler) and some of the ways the clues started or the different elements used that were needed to solve some of them.  I also liked the way they used all the materials in the box, like literally, everything gets used.

What did you dislike about the game?  J:  As I mentioned before, the artwork on some of the clue areas is so dark, even using a bright light, it was really difficult to decipher.  Had they made things a bit more visible, that may have made a difference in a couple of clues.  

A:  I was disappointed in the clues not working together cohesively.  There’ll be multiple parts of a clue, but they didn’t really go together with other clues you were using.  It just seemed kind of all over the place.

J:  There’s so much waste for a one time use game.  I understand you can only play it once, but i would have liked to be able to pass it off to someone instead of having to toss everything after one use.

Escape Room or Exit Game?  A:  Escape Room.  I like the variety of puzzles and clues you find in an Escape Room as well as the hands on part of the room, which I realize you can’t do with the Exit Games.  

J:  Escape Room.  Maybe I would do another Exit game if they didn’t use the code dial.  It’s not my thing. Escape rooms give me a variety of things that the clues provide and I know that if I have a color, it probably goes to a color lock. That wasn’t present in exit games, since it’s all just 3 digit codes.

COMPONENTS:  The components are of a decent quality.  The cards are a good weight and material.  The rulebook gives clear and concise instructions to set up and there’s an additional clue book/ diary that is used for a variety of the clues.  There’s a set of 3 cards for each of the clues that gives players 2 hints and the solution if they are having difficulty solving a clue.

MECHANICS:  EXIT Games come with a number of clever mechanics.  There are puzzles that lead you to a three digit number.  You put that number into a secret code disc.  As players solve puzzles, the game is set up that if you think you’ve solved a puzzle, there’s a way to make sure you actually did solve the puzzle and don’t just by some fluke move on to the next.  In the event that you get stuck on a puzzle, there are 3 hint cards for each clue.  One to get you moving in the right direction, a second hint to push you a little further and a 3rd card that has the solution and how to get there on it.

TIME, AGES & PLAYER COUNT:  The time of 1-2 hours is appropriate for this game.  The age recommendation of 12+ seems appropriate.  (J & A are both adults.)   This game was played with 2 players, but 1-4 would work fine.  

ARTWORK:  The artwork is ok.  The best part is the box artwork with the cemetery drawings.  The aforementioned darkness makes some of the clues difficult to see and figure out just because of how they are drawn, how dark they are and how dark the background is.  

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was Alaetheia and Jaye’s first EXIT game they had played, so I wanted to see if they were onto something with their experience or if they just didn’t get it.  And I think they are onto something.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are a variety of EXIT games for different levels of play and some are great fun, and give you the aha! moment that Alaetheia mentions.  I reset a number of the clues in this game to give them a go and am inclined to agree.  This one didn’t do it for me.  I’ve enjoyed the other EXIT games I’ve tried and look forward to trying more, but feel like this one missed the mark.

THOUGHTS FROM OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS:

Dale Yu: 1 play, provided with review copy by Thames & Kosmos – 

We played The Cemetery of the Knight over Thanksgiving weekend, and it took us probably around an hour to finish it. It’s hard to say for sure because our solving was interrupted by dinner preparation and then the eating of said meal.  As the box would suggest, this was one of the harder EXIT games, and I must say that I find the more difficult games less appealing.  In my experience, the increased difficulty is often generated by designing more obscure puzzles, and I find that these feel more strained and less elegant.    Like The Catacombs of Horror (https://opinionatedgamers.com/2019/07/20/dale-yu-review-of-exit-the-catacombs-of-horror/), I was left scratching my head at a few of the puzzles.  In the end, the gamer is always going to solve the puzzles, after all the third hint card for each puzzle gives you the solution!  I find that I enjoy the experience a bit more when I never need a third clue card.  It’s not that I am so proud that I don’t want to be stumped; but thus far with EXIT games, each time that I’ve been stumped, I’ve felt that the puzzle was unfair or unclear.   I personally prefer the satisfaction of successfully solving a puzzle, or seeing the ingenuity behind a particularly elegant puzzle.

 Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, and I would still recommend it – but in the full spectrum of EXIT games, this one would definitely be in the bottom half.  And, to be fair, while I did not care for the other super difficult one, The Catacombs of Horror, more than one of my local gamers has called that one their all-time favorite EXIT edition.  I think it’s just all about personal preference, and I definitely prefer the less complex ones.

I would still heartily recommend the EXIT games, just be sure to check the difficulty range on the front cover and lean towards your personal comfort zone.

RATINGS:
I Love it!

I Like It.  Dale Yu, John P

Neutral. RJ Garrison, 

Not for me. Alaetheia, Jaye (guest gamers), James Nathan

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